Law Enforcement to Use Drones to Respond to Gunshots?

Law Enforcement to Use Drones to Respond to Gunshots?

Authorities in Louisville, KY have submitted a proposal to utilize drone fleets to quickly provide situational awareness to local law enforcement in the event of gunfire. How will it work and is it a good idea?

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer spoke to reporters last week about the proposal, saying, "The number one issue is using all means we have to increase public safety, and if we can do it smarter with technology, we are going to do that." The plan was submitted to the White House's Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) Integration Pilot Program, set up to explore sharing airspace oversight between federal, state, and local authorities. Under current FAA regulations, UAS flights are prohibited beyond visual line of sight and over people. If accepted, Louisville's plan could be driving force towards updated drone legislation.

So how will it all work? The drones would fly to locations where gunshots are detected through the city's new ShotSpotter technology. The ShotSpotter system uses a network of microphones placed in various locations throughout the city to listen for and automatically detect the sound of gunfire. GPS coordinates are relayed to police stations, often alerting authorities to gunfire before a 911 call is placed. The idea is that drones would be launched immediately and arrive on the scene before officers to capture footage of the people involved in the incident if possible. 

Potential concerns include privacy and logistics. What data the drones capture, where will it be stored, and who will have access to it? What happens in the event of a drone crash? How much will the program cost?

What are your thoughts on the proposal and the ever-expanding potential uses of drone technology?

Lead image by A. Savin via Wikimedia Commons.

Aneesh Kothari's picture

Aneesh Kothari is a Houston-based travel, landscape, and cityscape photographer. He enjoys reading, traveling with his family, and making lists of things he enjoys. He yearns to be a Civil War buff but has yet to finish the Ken Burns series.

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I hope they can tell the difference between a gunshot and a firecracker. Weird times.

Skynet. Why Louisville? They need a few hundred in Chicago, where there is a shooting every 4 hours.

If we're talking about situations to which police have already been dispatched, and the drones are going to be the eyes of "the guy in the chair" for the police officers (as this seems to describe), I don't see a problem with it. This isn't about continual surveillance, and people who think it is don't understand the manpower costs of continual surveillance. It's not like "Enemy of the State."

The bad guys know how to use drones, why shouldn't the good guys?

This is a great use of drone technology in the public safety space. Can't wait to see what else they come up with.


Out here in the wild northwest of Chicago, we actually have pole-mounted gunshot detectors so if there were a way for a drone to go up and quickly survey the area I can see some benefit. (The police also have cameras that can be placed in areas of high crime.)