Much of the world is currently blaming the WHO and China for delaying the news of the coronavirus outbreak, which makes it all the more ironic that US police departments are now using drones that have been donated from China through a manufacturer, DJI.
“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,” reported WOOD TV.
In the wake of the pandemic, social distancing regulations are in full swing. The US government has employed a number of schemes to discourage such folks from breaking social distancing norms.
China is well known for its mass surveillance programs and human rights violations and the donation of drones to police forces in the US is a new move. Using the drones donated by Shenzhen-based company, DJI, also seems to be one such measure police are considering to spot people wandering outside their homes instead of being at home.
“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,” reported WOOD TV.
Though DJI says that it has donated its drones for surveillance and dispersing crows, the Kent County Sheriff's Department Lt. Joel Roon said that they weren't being used for monitoring crowds yet.
“As far as patrolling the streets and shouting messages… that's not what these are for,” said Roon. He further added that employing drone surveillance would be their last resort and they would only do so after exhausting other methods of policing to enforce social distancing.
“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,” said Roon.
Westport, Connecticut's police force, however, have already started using drones to “make sure people aren't getting too close to each other,” as reported by News 12.
Drone surveillance is an initiative under the police department's “Flattening the Curve” pilot program.