MPD to use drones for searches, crime mapping

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MADISON, Wis. – Drones have become an important tool to police departments around the country, and now they're coming to Madison.

The Madison Police Department is careful to refer to them as “unmanned aircraft systems,” or UAS.

They will be used to help police with searches for suspects, missing people and also crime mapping. 

Madison police recently used UAS in the armed robbery at a Madison Culver's where a worker died. 

Each of the department's two drones are equipped with daytime and nighttime camera capability. They're run by a team with extensive operating experience. 

“As UAS have become very popular in society, nationally with over 600,000 people registering their UAS, public safety is just getting started and [we're learning] what the capabilities are for these awesome tools that we have,” said Lt. Mike Hanson of the Madison Police Department. 

As privacy is always a concern with this increasingly popular technology, Lt. Hanson says the main goal here is to keep people safe.  He says if police fly over private property it will be for tactical reasons, and watching people in their backyards will never be their intent.

A report from Bard College in April found that 347 local agencies across the country had acquired drones in 2016.

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