First drone pilots for South African police

It might be slow steps, but the South African Police Service is moving in the right direction as far as integrating drone technology into police operations is concerned

And last Wednesday was another step taken, as police authorities in the country’s Gauteng province gathered in Johannesburg to welcome the first drone pilots in the service.

The batch of 13 took their pilot lessons under the aegis of a local drone services company, AUV and Drone Solutions some time ago.

The training programme for the police officers was also made possible with support from the corporate world; including from Fidelity Security Services, Sanlam, and Business Against Crime.

Drone technology makes policing and security operations safer, faster more effective through the provision of eyes in the sky in places where the physical safety of human personnel should be prioritised. As eyes in the sky, drones also cover more ground at less costly rates than police officers would using alternative means of transport.

Smaller drones like the Loki have also been used to help police in situations that need a tactical approach; such as stealthily entering buildings for surveillance, and during hostage situations.

The SAPS said the drones would be used to add police visibility in, especially in areas that are not easily accessible due to environmental challenges.

“Let us, through effective partnership, continue to join hands in ensuring that Gauteng is a safe and secure province for all. It is not only more boots on the ground but we now also have eyes in the sky,” said Gauteng Police Commissioner Lt Gen Elias Mawela.

In the past couple of years, the police have been dabbled in pilot projects; collaborating with private security industry partners to test the effectiveness of drone technology in policing and security.

The country’s police minister has also been on record promising the introduction of drone technology to help police officers, especially in rural parts of South Africa.


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