Monday, Rushville Chief of Police Craig Tucker announced that for the past 12 months, the department he heads has had an unmanned aerial vehicle (drone). He added that currently law enforcement departments in Hancock and Shelby Counties also have a similar tool in use.
“The reason we are coming forward and announcing that we have a UAV is that as a department, after using it for nearly a year and evaluating its’ use, it has become clear that in reality - the device that we have is not going to be used for covert measures,” Tucker said.
He continued by saying the UAV will assist officers with criminal investigations but it is anticipated those times will be slim and far between in nature.
State legislation currently in place, strictly regulates the use of UAV’s most significantly that cannot be used on private property without a search warrant.
“This is something that is not foreign territory for us and will not change, officers are required to have to have probable cause in order to obtain a search warrant,” Tucker said Monday.
Tucker added that use if a UAV on public property is different in that there is “no expectation of privacy” on public property such as city parks or other municipal properties, where a search warrant is not necessary.
Tucker said, during the past year, the RPD’s UAV has been used twice; once to assess storm damage and a second time to obtain aerial photography for an out of county fatality crash for another law enforcement department.
“In the case of the fatality crash, the other county’s law enforcement department knew we had a UAV and requested that we use it to fly over the crash scene and get aerial shots. It worked out quite well. We could actually see things from the air that could not be gained from the ground level investigation,” Tucker said.