ARLINGTON, Va., 6 Sept. 2012. Fewer than three percent of law-enforcement units have aviation assets due to the high operating costs of manned aircraft, according to a statement from the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) in Arlington, Va.; yet, unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) provide a cost-effective alternative.
“The Sheriff’s Office in Mesa County, Colo., operates an unmanned aircraft at the cost of $3.36 per hour, compared to $250 to $600 per hour for a manned aircraft,” AUVSI reveals.
The purchase price of a UAS is also significantly less than a manned aircraft, at a cost roughly the same as a patrol car with standard police gear. In fact, agencies are increasingly opting to purchase a compact unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), or drone, in lieu of a new patrol car. This growing trend is spurring privacy debates, talk of and demand for increased legislation, and new court cases.
The vast majority of UAS currently flying in the U.S. are small models that weigh less than 25 pounds and can fit in the trunk of a car, according to AUVSI officials, who cite a recent poll by Monmouth University in West Long Branch, N.J.
“An overwhelming majority of Americans support the idea of using drones to help with search and rescue missions (80%). Two-thirds of the public also support using drones to track down runaway criminals (67%) and control illegal immigration on the nation’s border (64%),” reveals a Monmouth University spokesperson.