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Eyes In The Sky: Boise PD Taps Drones As Latest Crime Fighting Resource

Norm Gunning
Boise State Public Radio

Boise Police have a new tool in their crime fighting arsenal: drones. However, the Boise Police Department calls them unmanned aerial vehicles.   The department now has four drones, and four officers have FAA Remote Pilot Certification.

Captain Ron Winegar says the department has been working for a year to make sure the video camera equipped devices are used properly.

“We want to make sure that we balance the public safety need and the safety concerns we have for our officers with the concern our citizens have for privacy,” Winegar says.

They’ll be used for search and rescue, crime scene and traffic accident investigation and things that make officers safer like SWAT operations.

According to Winegar, the devices will also used in, “[a] hostage situation – barricaded subjects, those kind of things where we can use that without risking an officers safety.”

But don’t expect the department’s big eye in the sky to be used to track speeders

“I don’t see us mounting a radar unit on it anytime soon to do traffic enforcement,” Winegar says chuckling.

Officers will still have to obtain a search warrant for non-emergency surveillance missions. The police drones are similar to those used by hobbyists and cost about $2,000 apiece.

For more local news, follow the KBSX newsroom on Twitter @KBSX915

Copyright 2018 Boise State Public Radio

Norm Gunning grew up on a farm near Kuna milking cows and bucking hay bales. He met his wife Paula at Idaho State University in Pocatello where both were journalism students and that's where he began his broadcast career at the 10-watt campus FM station.