Police Drone Tracks Shoplifter, Leads to Arrest

Photo courtesy of County Executive Marc Elrich’s Weekly Message

The Montgomery County Police Department recently launched its Drone as First Responder (DFR) Pilot Program to provide air support to 911 or police generated calls for service in a safe, responsible, and transparent manner. The program has already made a difference, according to two occurrences shared by  County Executive Marc Elrich.

According to Elrich, “A 911 call came from a retail store along Georgia Avenue in Silver Spring that has experienced more than a dozen recent shoplifting robberies. The drone was able to track a man leaving the store and boarding a bus. With that information, police were able to stop the bus and make an arrest. That investigation could close several shoplifting cases and help bring relief to store employees and business owners.” The second occurrence of the DFR program leading to an arrest can be seen here.

Overview: The DFR program consists of prepositioning an unmanned aircraft system (UAS) on top of a building within an operational area. When a 911 or police generated call for service occurs, the UAS will launch and fly to the scene of the call. If ground officers are still needed to respond, the UAS will stay over the scene until the call is stabilized at which time the UAS will return to the launch/landing location. The DFR program will help:

  • Improve police response times.
  • Allow MCPD to be more efficient with police resources.
  • Provide real time information to ground officers to allow for better decision making.
  • Assist with de-escalation of incidents to enhance safety for both officers and our community.
  • Assist with locating and apprehending criminal suspects.

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