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GPS Drone

Guelph Police Introduces First Drone to Enhance Operations

The Guelph Police Service has recently added a high-tech drone to its arsenal, marking a significant advancement in its operational capabilities. The drone, which has been operational since August 2023. This new tool is set to aid in various police activities including search and rescue operations, evidence collection, and accident scene reconstructions.

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Training is paramount for the utilization of this drone. To date, six officers have been trained to pilot the drone, with an additional 22 trained as visual observers. More officers are scheduled to receive training later this year. The deployment of the drone requires both a trained pilot and a visual observer to ensure it remains within sight at all times, adhering to safety regulations.

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Since its introduction, the drone has been deployed nine times, primarily in searches for missing persons. It has also proved beneficial in gathering crucial evidence for homicide cases and in the aftermath of break-ins. In one notable instance last October, the drone was instrumental in locating an intoxicated and distressed man who was lost near a woodland area.

The drone, a DJI Matrice M30T, boasts high-resolution RGB and thermal cameras, a laser rangefinder, and dual speaker/spotlight payloads, enhancing its utility in various police operations. It can fly for up to 40 minutes, cover a range of 15 kilometers, and features a built-in stabilizer to ensure steady operation in windy conditions.

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Concerns regarding privacy are addressed rigorously, according to Chief Davis. Strict guidelines are followed by drone pilots to prevent unauthorized surveillance. Judicial authorization is required for any operation that might involve gathering or retaining personal information. Davis emphasizes the commitment to privacy, encouraging anyone with concerns about personal data to contact the police’s Freedom of Information office.

In addition to operational updates, the public can follow the drone’s activities through an exclusive X account, which announces its deployments. This transparency is part of the effort to assure the community that the drone is used responsibly, respecting privacy laws and avoiding intrusive surveillance practices.

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Looking ahead, the Guelph Police Service plans to expand its drone program. A second drone with similar capabilities is on the horizon, along with plans to integrate the technology into tactical and rescue operations. This expansion aims to enhance officer safety by providing remote visual access to potentially dangerous environments.

The introduction of the drone represents a forward-thinking approach to law enforcement in Guelph, promising increased efficiency and safety in police operations.

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