As Coronavirus continues to spread across the country and more governors and mayors order near-complete lockdowns of entire states and cities with various versions of “shelter in place” orders, first responders like police officers are finding creative ways to enforce the order while avoiding contact with the public in the form of using advanced drones.
Chula Vista Police Department, according to Washington Examiner, is one California police department working to bolster their existing drone program, indicating that they are considering the use of civilian drones mounted with loudspeakers and other gadgets like night vision cameras to help disperse crowds, keeping officers out of harm’s way.
“We have not traditionally mounted speakers to our drones, but … if we need to cover a large area to get an announcement out, or if there were a crowd somewhere that we needed to disperse, we could do it without getting police officers involved,” Capt. Vern Sallee said.
“The outbreak has changed my view of expanding the program as rapidly as I can,” the Chula Vista police captain added.
The head of a U.S. based drone company, Spencer Gore of Impossible Aerospace, admitted that the idea of using drones for crowd control and other responses during the Coronavirus outbreak seems a bit “Orwellian,” but admitted that the high-tech response could save lives.
“What we saw in China, and what we’re probably going to see around the world, is using drones with cameras and loudspeakers to fly around to see if people are gathering where they shouldn’t be, and telling them to go home,” Gore said. “It seems a little Orwellian, but this could save lives.”
Other police departments could also use the growing drone program to help alert homeless people — of which California has a record number of — to deliver messages to them without having to make direct contact.
That practice has already been used in China, with Chinese officials flying drones down streets and neighborhoods instructing citizens to make sure they’re always wearing their masks in public.