As the proliferation of drone use continues, the devices have gone from backyard hobby to expert surveying tool and finally, law enforcement unit.
NSW Police began the trial last year, in a collaboration with the Civil Aviation Society. The eventual aim is to have the devices ready for search and rescue missions, as they can quite handily reach where normal rescuers and helicopters cannot.
Drones have continued to be a hassle when it comes to fitting in with usual operating laws however, sparking concerns over potential privacy breaches in police hands. This comes despite the NSW Police aiming to primarily use them in search and rescue operations.
Concerned parties want legislation that prevents the device from being used as a spy tool. As drones are known for being relatively conspicuous, and often equipped with high-powered cameras, the concerns are not completely unfounded.
Police have reassured the public that they are merely a cheaper, and often more practical, replacement for services normally carried out by helicopters.
"RPAs [remotely piloted aircraft] could be equipped with video technology, including infrared technology, to aid police conducting search, rescue and emergency responses," Assistant Commissioner Mal Lanyon said in a December 6 Sydney Morning Herald article.
Further reinforcement came from the commissioner with the assurance that only trained operators would be operating drones, under heavy guidance from police protocols. Public consultation has also been carried out with regards to privacy concerns.
The discussion highlights a number of issues with private drone use as well. As the devices become more common, problems surrounding privacy will have to be dealt with on a higher scale.
Ultimately, police use should mean good things for the amateur market, as the more people embrace the technology, the wider the support net grows. It also increases the chance of official regulations being maintained, giving users the security and guidance they need.