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NOPD Begins Using Drones in Public Safety Operations

by Kaitlin M Landry

June 24, 2024

Categories: Announcement

Topics: Announcement, Good Police Work, Modernizing Policing

NOPD Begins Using Drones in Public Safety Operations

The New Orleans Police Department has successfully begun using drones to support public safety operations. In a recent incident on June 9, 2024, that resulted in two arrests, a drone was deployed after an officer-in-need-of-assistance/life-in-danger call.

At approximately 5 p.m., NOPD Seventh District officers identified a stolen vehicle and performed surveillance until four subjects fled the vehicle in the 6900 block of Gawain Drive. Officers pursued them on foot, and a gunshot was heard. Initially, it was believed the suspects were shooting at officers, but it was later confirmed that a dog had been shot.

Officers established a perimeter and apprehended two of the four subjects. It was learned that one of the subjects may have been hiding under a residence. The drone was deployed in the area of Hammond Avenue and Dodt Street, providing real-time overhead operational security. The subject was located and then apprehended. 

Per NOPD Operations Manual Chapter 43.5 - Unmanned Aircraft Systems (sUAS / Drones), Section 21: “The sUAS may be used to assist law enforcement with imagery, including the use of thermography, by conducting searches for suspects in instances where an officer has probable cause to believe a fleeing suspect is hiding in a designated area. Search warrants are required for searches for known wanted subjects who were not in the process of fleeing from apprehension or are believed to be inside of a privately owned structure.”

View the drone footage of the apprehension HERE.

A 16-year-old-male was charged with the following:

  • 68.4 Unauthorized Use of a Movable 
  • 69 Illegal possession of stolen things
  • 14:95 Illegal Carrying of a Weapon
  • 95.8 Possession of a Firearm by a Juvenile 
  • 108 Resisting an Officer

A second 16-year-old male was charged with the following:

  • 102.1 Cruelty to Animals
  • 68.4 Unauthorized Use of a Movable 
  • 69 Illegal possession of stolen things 
  • 94 Illegal Use of Weapons
  • 95.8 Possession of a Firearm by a Juvenile

In addition to operational security, NOPD also uses drones for vehicle crash investigations, such as a fatal crash that occurred on June 19, 2024, at the intersection of I-610 West and I-10 West. A drone was used to reconstruct the accident.

Footage of this can be viewed HERE.

Per NOPD Operations Manual Chapter 43.5 - Unmanned Aircraft Systems (sUAS / Drones), Section 17: "Except for those instances where officer safety or investigation could be jeopardized, if practical, NOPD will notify the public in the area of the flight, using social media, emergency alert systems, and/or any other official means of NOPD communication to the public.” 

For more information on NOPD’s drone program and other departmental policies, visit https://nola.gov/nopd/policies/