KPD prepping more drone use

LIHU‘E — Earlier this year, investigators at the National Transportation Safety Board used drone footage to document and analyze a helicopter crash that killed seven passengers in December. And now, the Kaua‘i Police Department is equipping its team to be able to do the same.

The department’s small Unmanned Aircraft System arm has been given the go-ahead to procure a software license for mapping software by the Kaua‘i County Council at its meeting on Mar. 25.

The software will allow the department to produce high-quality maps and images that can be used during natural disasters and for search-and-rescue operations.

The KPD has three sworn and certified Federal Aviation Administration remote pilots trained in procedures that follow local, state and federal laws, as well as the constitutional rights afforded by the Fourth Amendment, which protects Americans from unreasonable searches and seizures of property.

In 2018, KPD received authorization by the FAA that authorizes the department to use drones for disaster response and recovery, post-incident crime-scene preservation and documentation, response to hazardous-materials spills, and search-and-rescue missions. Additionally, the KPD will have to report all missions to the FAA.

The software allows the drones to take pictures of crime scenes or of other approved sites to create real-time maps in the field or in the office. This would be helpful in the aftermath of floods, hurricanes or other natural disasters. By evaluating maps before heading into a situation, the department can identify problems when infrastructure or environmental factors could obstruct on-the-ground response.

“I’m confident (with the use of drones) that we’ll be more effective (in the steps) we’re taking now for the safety and wellbeing of citizens and the police in the island,” county Councilmember Felicia Cowden said after speaking with KPD Capt. Elliott Ke.

A drone is both safer and more cost-effective, said KPD Chief Todd Raybuck.

“The use of the drones in policing has really allowed to us increase our ability to observe dangerous situations,” Raybuck said, adding that drones can obtain the same information that can be obtained from a safe location on the ground.

It’s more cost-effective, too, Raybuck said, noting that a helicopter or airplane rental bill can be $725 per hour of flight time.


Sabrina Bodon, public safety and government reporter, can be reached at 245-0441 or

  1. David Mecham March 27, 2020 5:57 am Reply

    Good idea,

  2. Kauaidoug March 27, 2020 9:26 am Reply

    Does a pokololo field constitute a crime scene? They should use these drones to monitor backed up traffic and then send officers to direct traffic untill bottle neck is gone. Lots of uses

  3. WestsideResident March 27, 2020 9:40 pm Reply

    And who is going to pay these amazing salaries when the tourists stop coming?

  4. Aleksandr Naumenkov March 28, 2020 3:46 pm Reply

    To monitor real criminal activities is very good, of course! But to monitor “accidentally” all citizens at same time for same or any reasons (still from drones) is absolutely different story and can be against our constitutional rights and 4th…***Remember this great movie: The enemy of the State. The innocent black attorney was falsely persecuted from some killers-children of anti-Christ even in the NSA! Obvious problem is that worst criminals can be hidden in …law enforcement too, because we must say: privacy is privacy, sir, and to keep a balance AND a safety distance (!) for our constitutional rights please… ***Refer to EFF attorneys, they work for free – honestly and hard with such problems too for our great Constitution and country. Praise the Lord for such people and real human rights organizations! Help them. Jesus is coming. Covid-19 is also for our preparation to His coming and God’s Justice…Much better is to monitor our hearts, to stay alert in the faith and really honestly help people without hypocrisy (Matt 23:23).

  5. Aleksandr Naumenkov March 28, 2020 3:49 pm Reply

    …Covid-19 is also for our preparation to His coming and God’s Justice…Much better is to monitor our hearts, to stay alert in the faith and really honestly help people without hypocrisy (Matt 23:23).

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