How SWAT Teams are Using Drones for Operations

Law enforcement professionals operate in complex environments, often under dangerous and quickly evolving circumstances.

In some cases, the threat is so significant that specially trained personnel are required to step in. Special Weapons And Tactics (SWAT) are highly trained units called upon for high-risk situations.

As their name implies, they combine special training with weapons and other equipment to tackle the gravest of situations.

Common SWAT operations include: responding to active shooters, barricaded suspects, hostage rescue situations, and counter-terrorism. Situational awareness is absolutely critical for monitoring and responding to these high-stress scenarios.

For that reason, drones have become major pieces to the SWAT team arsenal.

While law enforcement has utilized drones for many years, recent advances and innovative designs provide even more specialized drones for SWAT teams in need.

Two UAV solutions in particular, have proven themselves to be genuine assets to law enforcement professionals, especially SWAT teams.

The first option, by Impossible Aerospace, is the US-1 drone, which features an exceptionally long flight duration.

The second is the BRINC LEMUR drone, which includes many features ideally suited for SWAT professionals.

Let’s break them down.

How SWAT Teams Use Impossible Aerospace

Drones offer a variety of payloads that are incredibly useful to SWAT teams, such as RGB and thermal cameras.

However, there are some drawbacks. LiPo batteries power many drones. While there are advantages to using this type of power source, many UAVs powered by LiPo batteries only have a flight duration of about 30 minutes.

Typically, SWAT operations require longer stretches of time.

Impossible Aerospace solved this problem by producing an ideal drone that maintains uninterrupted situational awareness for over 70 minutes.

Additionally, the US-1 drone impressively charges to 75% capacity in only 45 minutes.

In theory, SWAT teams who purchase two of these UAS can maintain continuous aerial coverage of a situation, regardless of how long the operation takes.

The secret to the US-1’s long flight duration is a unique, battery-first design. Former Tesla engineers built the drone with the fuselage almost entirely filled with LiPo batteries.

In February 2019, the US-1 endured its first real-world application. The drone provided continuous coverage for the Campbell, Ca. SWAT team during a stand-off with a gunman held up in a Denny’s restaurant.

By all accounts, the US-1 provided extremely useful intel until the situation was peacefully resolved.

BRINC LEMUR

Originating from a real-world tragedy, BRINC designed every feature of the LEMUR for SWAT operations.

In October 2017, a gunman took the lives of 58 people and injured more than 500, firing from an elevated position on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort, during one of the worst mass shootings in recent United States history.

As a result, Las Vegas resident Blake Resnick founded BRINC in 2018. Resnick wanted to create a drone specifically to assist SWAT teams in similar situations.

Thus, he worked closely with the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department’s SWAT team to design the LEMUR drone.

The tactical drone capabilities of the LEMUR is unmatched. In fact, it sets the bar for SWAT team UAS.

Its standard capabilities include a 31-minute flight time and a max speed of 50mph. Also, it only takes 45 minutes to fully charge the battery. But, the UAS truly stands out due to its SWAT-specific features.

LEMUR quickly recovers from a crash by utilizing a self-righting system to flip itself over. Additionally, its onboard microphone and integrated speaker allow for SWAT personnel to have two-way communication with a suspect or hostage.

And, the microphone allows teams to hear footsteps or a suspect’s communication while remaining undetected. When utilized for this function, the drone “perches,” or remains idle with full video and audio capabilities for up to 10 hours.

LEMUR even has the ability to push open slightly ajar doors.

What’s more? It also includes an armature, capable of breaking tempered, automotive, and most residential glass. SWAT teams use this feature to enter a building during active shooter situations without ever physically sending people inside.

It does all of this while weighing only 2.4 pounds.

Bringing It All Together

In the drone industry, cutting edge technology allows for very specialized use-cases, and these SWAT drones are proof.

Dangerous, dire situations require creativity and innovation, and drones continue to provide. As UAS continue to evolve, we’ll likely see more specialization of platforms for even more industries.

If the success of the US-1 & LEMUR platforms are any indication of the future, then we’re in for quite a journey.

Have you considered a new way of getting things done for your organization? Do you need security & surveillance drone training or execution? At Consortiq, our trained remote pilots do everything from consultation and drone training to actually completing the missions for you.

Ready to get started? Book a consultation today by completing the form below, or by calling us at 1-855-203-8825 (United States) or +44 (0)203-970-2921 (United Kingdom).

With drones, there’s always a better way!

David Daly - Contributing Author

David Daly - Contributing Author

David Daly, is an award-winning photographer/writer and licensed (FAA) Commercial sUAS pilot. A graduate of the United States Naval Academy, David is a former Marine Corps officer with a BS in Oceanography and has earned his MBA from the University of Redlands. David has worked for Fortune 100 companies and has a background in aerospace, construction, military/defense, real estate, and technology.

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