TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (WIAT) — Members of the Tuscaloosa SWAT team practiced how to handle an active shooter threat at a school using drone technology Thursday afternoon.
The training drill scenario took place at Northridge Middle School. Major Heath Clark says the drones allow them to see inside a building first before sending officers inside.
“One of the hardest things you can do is try to drive someone out of a building that’s barricaded and they have an advantage on you,” Clark said. “This gives us the best ability to see to go in and see the best approach and entry to establish communication”.
The SWAT team used drones to fly through the hallway to locate a suspect who was barricaded and possibly armed. The purpose of the practice drill was to send a drone into the building before sending in swat members.
Tuscaloosa Police drone pilot Steve Zark says the drones have high-definition cameras and microphones for audio. The devices can also use infrared to allow operators to see at night or when it’s dark.
“What this does is give us the ability to see what’s there and what we may encounter when we get inside without endangering any lives,” Zark said. “It goes in and sends the [information] back and we have real-time video.”
The Tuscaloosa Police Department has six drones and has used them a number of times in search warrant cases and many other situations.