Colorado Springs Police have written off the idea of using unmanned aerial systems because they're not yet practical, says Lt. Daniel Lofgren.
First, police use of drones requires Federal Aviation Administration approval. "Then," Lofgren says, "if you do get approved, you must fly it under 400 feet. You must keep it in visual contact with the ground operator, and the ground operator must be a certified pilot."
Moreover, the drones would be authorized to fly only during daylight hours, and not over populated areas or within five miles of any airport that has an air control tower. Exceptions could be made only on limited grounds and for very specific purposes, such as to scope out the immediate area surrounding a building in which someone has barricaded himself, much like police use robots.
While drones can be purchased for as little as $1,000, Lofgren says optics equipment adds $50,000. He also says drones are incapable of providing the wide-ranging picture achieved from an aircraft.