State police in Onondaga County will be among the first in New York to utilize drones to support law enforcement missions, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Wednesday.
According to a press release from the governor's office, the new State Police Unmanned Aerial System program will provide aerial drones to four state police troops: Troop A, Troop D, Troop F and Troop G. Onondaga County — along with Jefferson, Lewis, Herkimer, Oneida, Onondaga, Madison and Oswego counties — is part of Troop D.
The drones will be used to support disaster response and traffic safety missions, according to the release. The unmanned aerial system can document and reconstruct motor vehicle crashes in less time than current methods, resulting in shorter road closures and fewer impacts on motorists. The drones can also be used in dangerous situations, including natural disasters, to keep troopers safe. Investigators will also use the aerial drones to document and photograph crime scenes.
Additionally, unmanned aerial systems will "provide a significant cost savings" over manned aircraft, according to the release, while reducing response times and making operations more efficient and cost effective.
"This state-of-the-art technology will improve emergency response, improve operational and cost efficiencies and increase trooper safety," Cuomo said. "We will continue to implement innovative technologies to improve our ability to protect New Yorkers across this great state."
State police members who will operate the drones will be certified by the Federal Aviation Administration and undergo 32 hours of hands-on training with the systems. By April 2018, an additional 14 aerial drones will be deployed throughout the state. The New York State Trooper Foundation is donating 16 of the aerial drone systems to the state police.