SPOKANE, Wash. — Drones have soared in popularity over the years and they've proven to be a useful tool for the Spokane Police Department (SPD).
"The community benefits because we're able to find these people, officers benefit because we're not walking into an ambush and the suspect benefits because we're able to use other tools and tactics to come up with a peaceful resolution," SPD Cpl. Nick Briggs said.
They also help officers see in the dark when an armed suspect tried to hide in someone's backyard. Officers knew exactly where he was.
"Found the suspect hiding, was able to position the officers in a way that they could protect the public but then also begin de-escalation," Briggs said.
Back in July, Spokane police were on the trail of a burglar who stole a laptop from a business on South Freya. The suspect darted into the homeless camp and eventually into a tent.
Police launched a drone and within minutes, a person living at the camp decided to launch his own to try and take down SPD's. The camper's drone flew right toward the SPD drone and rammed it, breaking off a propeller.
"Anytime law enforcement is deploying a relatively new technique or tool, there are people that have the opposite interest," Briggs said. "They are trying to avoid being apprehended. They are trying to hinder investigations."
Officer were able to arrest the burglary suspect, but now they have an entirely different investigation. Witnesses at the camp told police they knew who was responsible and that he had several drones in his tent. But, when officers searched it, they couldn't find any.
The investigation is still ongoing. Cpl. Briggs says to his knowledge, this is the first time anyone has targeted a SPD drone.
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