Are drones the next innovation in police work? - Baltimore


Mar. 20, 2017 8:27 am

Are drones the next innovation in police work?

A case from Cecil County suggests UAVs are on the case. The sheriff's new drone helped seize $394,000 worth of stolen construction equipment to show its value.

A drone with the Pharos Antenna attached.

(Courtesy photo)

Lots of big construction equipment was missing across three states, and police were on the trail in Cecil County.

Enter the drone.

The county sheriff netted a big ticket bust by tapping the department’s recently-launched UAV program last week. Sheriff Scott Adams said he piloted the drone in its first mission to locate stolen construction equipment from New Jersey.

Police received a tip from New Jersey State Police that the suspected thief was stashing the construction equipment in Elkton. After tracking him through ground surveillance operations with the help of police from Pennsylvania and New Jersey, the Cecil County Sheriff decided to take to the skies.

Despite the tip, they could not see the equipment from the road. That’s where the UAV came in. Adams piloted the drone, and located the construction equipment behind a building at the rear of a property in the 2000 block of Barksdale Rd.

Police eventually seized 17 pieces of construction equipment there, then found three more at another property on Telegraph Rd. The equipment is valued at $394,000. The Cecil Whig reports the equipment included “excavators, augers, backhoes, trailers, stump grinders, chippers, bulldozers and at least one car hauler.”

In case you’re wondering, the police department is cleared to fly. Adams and department deputies recently received FAA certification to operate the drones. The drone program officially began on March 1, but this is the first time the UAV was used to make an arrest.

The Cecil Whig reported that the Phoenix Ace V2 was purchased using money seized from drug dealers. It was custom-made for police work by UAV Solutions in Jessup.┬áThe office also purchased a smaller Typhoon H Pro. Adams made assurances at the time that the drones’ cameras only payload are its cameras, and they “will not be weaponized.”

Stephen Babcock

Stephen Babcock is Market Editor for Baltimore and DC. A graduate of Northeastern University, he moved to Baltimore following stints in New Orleans and Rio Arriba County, New Mexico. His work has appeared in The New York Times, Baltimore Fishbowl, NOLA Defender, Times-Picayune and the Rio Grande Sun.


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