A Chinese manufacturer is donating drones to police departments across the United States so agencies can better surveil citizens they suspect are violating social distancing orders.
Shenzhen-based DJI Enterprise recently donated monitoring equipment to the Battle Creek Police Department and Kent County Sheriff’s Department in Michigan.
WOOD TV reported:
On the manufacturer’s website, DJI uses examples of police agencies, like Daytona Beach, Florida police, who plan on using the drone’s loud speaker to disperse crowds to avoid the spread of COVID-19.
“As far as patrolling the streets and shouting messages … that’s not what these are for,” Kent County Sheriff’s Department Lt. Joel Roon told the news station.
The drones are smaller than the current fleet and are equipped with a light and a speaker.
The decision to accept the drones was based more on opportunity than a specific mission.
Roon said the drones will not be used to “monitor” crowds that may be violating Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s stay-at-home order — yet.
“If there’s a traditional response tactic that we can use, like responding with a patrol car with maybe a PA system, we’re going to always resort to that first,” Roon told WOOD TV.
In Westport, Connecticut, police will be using drones to “make sure people aren’t getting too close to each other,” News 12 reported.
The drones can “spot things like body temperature and illness.”
The surveillance is part of the department’s “Flattening the Curve” pilot program.