This Redlands Police drone

This Redlands Police drone was used to evaluate a pediestrian versus vehicle incident last Sunday, on Orange Street. The drone was operated by a Redlands Police officer who had a remote control pad.

Using a drone, officers from the Redlands Police Department were recently able to find evidence of an armed robbery that will eventually be used in court against the suspect.

“Without the drone, police would have never found such evidence or could have taken a long time to do so. Redlands police use drones to investigate large areas, document and photograph crime scenes and for surveillance in tactical situations, said the city’s spokesman Carl Baker.

“They are often used in place of calling in a helicopter from the Sheriff Department, which is expensive and sometimes may not be available in a timely manner,” Baker said. “Drones can also be more effective than a helicopter in some situations. The drone will be deployed in any patrol call involving a fleeing suspect.”

“Early last month, Redlands City Council accepted a $20,800 grant from the state Homeland Security to purchase four unmanned aerial systems, commonly known as drones.  

“These drones are equipped with thermal imaging cameras that will assist police in searching for suspects and missing people at night, Police Chief Christopher Catren said in a letter to council.  

“The acquisition of the four sUAS (small Unmanned Aircraft Systems) will make them readily available for operations 24 hours per day, seven days per week,” said Catren.  

“Police found it was appropriate to use a drone while investigating an armed robbery that occurred on Sunday, Sept. 22, at 1600 Industrial Park Ave.  Police also used a “specialized technology,” that wasn’t revealed for obvious reasons, often implemented to address robberies and other crimes.

According to Baker, drones have also been used in prior crime investigations, such as the case of a suspect who stabled a man and then ran into the Santa Ana River Wash.  A search on foot failed to find the suspect, but a drone located him hiding behind a bush, Baker said.

“On another occasion, officers were involved in a pursuit of a vehicle that had left the freeway and was fleeing on Live Oak Canyon Road, said Baker.  

“The drone was deployed and was able to locate the suspect in the brushy area well off the roadway,” he said. “Drones are also routinely used in burglary alarm calls to check on rooftops. This is another example where they perform a function that would previously have required a helicopter or other air support unit.”

“Drones also are used during special events, such as parades, the Bicycle Classic and the Run Through Redlands for faster response in case of a suspicious subject, added Baker.

“The Redlands Police Department has used and taken advantage of new technology as soon as it arrives.”

Nine years ago, the department was among the first agencies in the region to use iPhones and iPads to fight crime, Baker said.  

And recently the department expanded the use of automated license plate readers.

““This technology recently assisted in the arrest of two people who had been assaulting women and stealing cell phones outside local businesses,” Baker said.