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SSP Allen makes case for drones

Associate Editor —
Auto & Entertainment

Friday, December 29, 2017

SENIOR Superintendent of Police Calvin Allen says that unmanned aerial vehicles, also known as drones, could better assist lawmen in the execution of their duties, and the force's hierarchy is on board with their use.

The traffic division head was speaking to the Jamaica Observer's Auto magazine at an exclusive tour of the newly opened state-of-the-art Road Safety Hub located at the police's Elletson Road headquarters in Kingston recently.

“We're looking at the utilisation of drones. I've seen in some parts of the United States where they use drones to assist in traffic management. The drone would capture all of what is happening, even half-a-mile down the road and you (the police) are at a central spot where that information is being viewed. So that motorist who finally comes up to you, at your feet, you would already have advanced information that he or she had committed some breach down the road and this is where we need to go. That's why we're looking at electronic surveillance and those sort of advanceed technology to assist us in ensuring we deliver that sort of quality service,” said SSP Allen.

“The JCF (Jamaica Constabulary Force) hierarchy is very much of the thinking that these advanced technologies will help us, even in our crime-fighting efforts and traffic enforcement. So we look forward for the passage of the new Traffic Act which, in itself, will better cater to the use of electronic devices, other than what we have now,” he continued.

According to a recent report, compiled by the United States Center for the Study of the Drone, in 2016 at least 167 government agencies acquired drones. This is more than double the number obtained the year before.

Drones are more popular among law enforcement than any other type of public safety agency. Sixty-three per cent of the agencies that acquired drones are sheriff or police departments, the study found. Fire departments account for 20 per cent.

Police have used drones to help find suspects, like in Indiana last year when a drone equipped with a thermal imaging camera found a man who fled the scene after crashing his car in a police chase. And in Maryland, a sheriff's office used a drone to find US$400,000 worth of stolen construction equipment.

SSP Allen admitted that the police cannot be everywhere. And the use of technology could assist the JCF in any regard. He is also a proponent for electronic surveillance.

“I'm in support of electronic surveillance equipment. The information captured from these devices can be used in our enforcement activities. A policeman may not be at every traffic light, but the behaviour of our motorists will be captured, downloaded and utilised in our enforcement efforts,” he said.

SSP Allen said he and his staff will be out on the island's roads in full force.

“The Traffic Department will continue to maintain that visible presence across Jamaica and discharge our duties with courtesy and respect, bearing in mind the human rights obligations we have, irrespective of who the motorist is,” he said.