IRVINE, Calif. (KABC) — The Irvine Police Department is warning criminals about its drones that recently helped officers track down a robbery suspect, and footage shows how difficult it can be to evade the department’s new technology.
A video published on the IPD Facebook page shows drone footage of officers tracking a suspect who officers believe violated a restraining order and had an active warrant for his arrest in connection with a robbery.
Detectives were able to locate the suspect’s vehicle but discovered he had fled on foot.
“After members of the IPD Drone team were dispatched to the scene, they used the drone to locate the suspect walking in the neighborhood,” reads Facebook. “As the drone pilots directed detectives and officers to the location of the suspect, he immediately fled as they closed in on him. The drone team continuously observed the suspect, continuously updating ground units as the suspect traversed backyards and jumped over walls. He eventually gave up when he realized he was not going to make it.”
The suspect was taken into custody shortly thereafter.
Earlier this month, Irvine police announced they were using the drones to make missing persons announcements in communities.
The department said it had been doing this for about three years.
sergeant. Christopher Bees said their Unmanned Aircraft Systems, or UAS, are faster to deploy, less expensive and easier to hear than a helicopter.
“Patrollers that are part of the drone team move with it so they’re quicker to deploy a drone,” Bees said.
The department has also partnered with the Orange County Fire Authority for the use of this technology.
Using the infrared capabilities of this UAS, as firefighters focused on extinguishing flames during a 2021 incident on Toll Road 261, officers located the arson suspect hiding in the bushes.
OCFA drone program manager Frank Granados said drones give fire crews an extra look in real time.
“It keeps our staff safe. It gives us a wide range of what we do and it gives the incident commander a big picture or idea of what’s going on in the incident and that way they are better able to manage the resources coming in, going out,” Granados said.
As for who they monitor with these drones, officers said they wrote their UAS policy with privacy in mind.
“Except for training and demonstration purposes, if we record something, at the end of the operation, we examine it to determine its probative value. If there is nothing probative, we delete any video we keep,” said Sgt. The bees said.
According to IPD, officers use drone technology to search for missing persons about twice a month.
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