In NJ, Cranford Police Use Drones for Hurrican Ida Response and More

cranford police use drones

image courtesy Cranford Police

Cranford Police Department Uses Drones in Hurricane Ida Response Efforts

by DRONELIFE Staff Writer Ian M. Crosby

Recently, the Town of Cranford, New Jersey Police Department incorporated a drone program into its equipment arsenal. This addition to the Department provided aid in a number of missions during and after Hurricane Ida, such as the rapid assessment of flood damage and identification of dangerous or unstable areas. With the help of Adorama Business Solutions, the Police Department equipped and trained officers in UAS to better serve the community and ensure public safety.

Having researched the ways in which drones were being utilized in public service sectors, Cranford Police Captains Ed Davenport and Guy Patterson consulted with Adorama Business Solutions to purchase three drones (the DJI Mini 2, DJI Mavic Enterprise Advanced, and DJI Mavic Enterprise Dual) for use in various missions. The Adorama team trained the department’s staff in drone regulations and utilization, basic flight maneuvers, and identification of unstable regions through hazard mapping and thermal technology.

Not long after the program was put into place, the East Coast was wracked by Hurricane Ida, resulting in massive flooding across New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Pennsylvania. The drones provided the department with a means to navigate the disaster in real time and increase efficiency. Cranford police used drone mapping to assess the extent and scale of flooding, completing what would have typically been a several-hour project in roughly 20 minutes, and allowing for quicker delivery of data to rescue teams determining which rescue vehicles were necessary for certain areas, increasing the speed of resource allocation and rescue efforts.

Additionally, thermal footage from the drones was utilized to detect a debris fire in the hurricane’s aftermath that wasn’t in view at ground level. With the help of UAS, the Cranford police were able to quickly identify hot spots and coordinate with the Fire Department as they put out the fire. The drones were also deployed for the planning of debris removal.

“The biggest problem with Hurricane Ida was with the flooding events. A vast majority of our streets in our impacted areas weren’t passable. Through UAS, we handled the damage assessments much more conveniently and efficiently,” said Captain Guy Patterson. “The amount of data we captured so quickly using the drones was crucial in managing multiple aspects of our response and initial recovery to Hurricane Ida and making sure our community was safe and accounted for.”

As a result of the success of the drone program, the Cranford Police Department is now providing UAS training on a regular basis, and drones have played a critical role in identifying solutions to regional problems and natural disasters.

Read more about drones for police, drones in hurricane response, and drones in firefighting.

Ian attended Dominican University of California, where he received a BA in English in 2019. With a lifelong passion for writing and storytelling and a keen interest in technology, he is now contributing to DroneLife as a staff writer.