In April, 2017, the Northampton Police Department added a small Unmanned Aircraft System (sUAS) Unit to our specialized units. Along with unit supervisor Sergeant Patrick Moody, four officers are assigned to this unit.
A small Unmanned Aircraft System (sUAS) utilizes Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) that weigh more than .55 pounds and less than 55 pounds and are operated within the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulation (14 CFR) Part 107. The Northampton Police Department operates two sUAS aircrafts. We have a DJI Phantom 4 and a DJI Inspire 1 v.2 with a FLIR Zenmus XT camera (used for thermal imaging). The FLIR camera was paid for by Northampton Fire Rescue.
All deployments of the sUAS must specifically be authorized by the OIC or sUAS Supervisor. The Northampton Police has adopted the use of sUAS to provide an aerial visual perspective in responding to emergency situation and exigent circumstances, and for the following objectives:
- Situational Awareness: To assist Incident Command in understanding the nature, scale, and scope of an incident and/or for planning and coordinating an effective response.
- Search and Rescue: To assist missing person investigations, Amber alerts, and other search and rescue missions.
- Tactical Deployment: To support the tactical deployment of officers and equipment in emergency situations (e.g., Incident involving hostages and barricades, support for large tactical operations, and temporary perimeter security situations).
- Visual Perspective: To provide an aerial visual perspective to assist officers in providing direction for crowd control, traffic incident management, and temporary perimeter security.
- Scene Documentation: To document a crime scene, accident scene, or other major scene (e.g., disaster managing, incident response, large scale forensic investigation).
- Assist Northampton Fire Rescue with active fire suppression efforts through thermal imaging and aerial vantage points.