Police could use drones to watch over streets of Daytona Beach

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. —

An un-manned police drone could soon be secretly watching over the streets of Daytona Beach.

WFTV's Blaine Tolison was there Thursday as a company made its pitch to Police Chief Mike Chitwood to patrol the city's skies.

Chitwood said it would be useful for patrols, pursuits, and search and rescue. But he still has concerns about allowing it to fly over people and crowds in places like Main Street during bike week.

Drones are no longer top secret. The one shown off Thursday flew over 100 feet going 50 miles an hour around the Daytona Beach Police Department parking lot.

"It's something we're seriously looking at. Again, there are Federal Aviation Administration regulations that we have to be involved in, and there's training that has to be involved in it," said Chitwood.

Some argue the FAA does not have enough regulations. This particular drone must fly within the pilot's line of sight and no higher than 400 feet.

The builders of the drone said it is well designed for finding people. So WFTV put it to the test to see if it could find Tolison in the woods.

It found him, but he showed up as a dot on the drone's camera.

"If I had this and all the kinks were worked out, we'd have that thing up every day. I have areas of stolen cars, car breaks, burglaries, special events," said Chitwood.

The FAA is allowing drone use for some law enforcement, but there are concerns.

David Finlayson, who helped build the drone, said it has crashed but only in testing.

"Getting this out there and saving lives in search and rescue, police actions, I think it's well worth it. It's worth the risk," said Finlayson.

There are fail safes, such as an engine kill to stop the rotor blades in the event of a crash. The one tested on Thursday costs about $30,000. Drones could be available commercially by 2015.