(TNS) - Only a decade ago, the idea of using flying cameras to solve crimes seemed like something out of a made-for-TV science fiction film.
Today, however, fiction has become a reality, and police agencies across the country increasingly are turning to these miniature aerial platforms to help in their work.
Defined in legal terms as unmanned aerial systems, but more commonly known as drones, they're also helping survey storm damage, checking hard-to-reach areas on bridges and towers, showing off real estate or scouting out possible construction sites.
But it's their use by police and other law enforcement agencies where drones have received the most public attention.
Tight FAA restrictions
Lt. Christopher Hermance, who commands the Special Tactics Unit at the Dover Police Department, is the agency's chief UAS pilot. He is backed up by two other pilots. All have undergone initial flying instruction as well as tactical training in drone use, and are certified by the Federal Aviation Administration, which oversees drone use in the United States.
Law enforcement agencies in Wilmington and Ocean View, as well as the Delaware State Police also are using UAS technology as are DelDOT, the Delaware Emergency Management Agency and the state fire service.
Using DEMA funding, Dover police bought two unmanned aircraft in 2016, paying about $12,500 for the aircraft, batteries, controllers, cameras and other equipment.