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    Drones provide backup for Brussels police

    © Belga

    A drone service initiated a year ago by Brussels to support the region’s police has carried out 187 missions thus far, regional Prime Minister Rudi Vervoort and other officials said on Wednesday.

    Brussels is the only region to have such a regionwide drone service for the police.

    A protocol currently under preparation will extend the service to the fire department, which has already used it. Other potential beneficiaries include Brussels Mobility – in the area of road safety – and Bruxelles Propreté. There are also prospects for development in the area of 3-D dimensioning from photographs of the scenes of accidents or incidents.

    Prime Minister Vervoort said Brussels Region, which is in charge of security in the capital territory by virtue of the last State reform, has taken an innovative approach since the establishment of Brussels Prevention and Security (BPS), which is its operator in this field.

    The decision to purchase the first drones was made in June 2017. Within the federal police service created to that effect, the six pilots recruited received training in Spring 2018 and were licensed. The region earmarks 200,000 euros each year for running the service.

    So far, BPS has bought eight drones of varying prices and capabilities. Two of these are used for missions within buildings and are aimed at enhancing the security of police operatives by preceding them during their interventions. The other six, which are for outdoor use, are also able to take photographs.

    The service has two vehicles to carry out its missions as close as possible to the interventions: the outdoor drones have an autonomy of 10 to 30 minutes; their range is limited to 500 metres and they always fly by visual navigation.

    The drones’ back-up images can be consulted by dispatchers, on the monitors of intervention vehicles or on special watches with which intervening police are equipped.

    A quarter of the 187 operations carried out since October 2018 were training missions, according to information provided on Wednesday by Prime Minister Vervoort, BPS Director Jamil Araoud and representatives of the federal police in charge of the management and coordination of the service.

    Three-quarters of the operational service flights were done in support of the local police (demonstrations, big events, football matches, speed checks etc.) while a quarter assisted the missions of the judicial police, including preparing for raids. The drones were also used for fires and looking for missing persons.

    Oscar Schneider

    The Brussels Times