Tijuana police will begin using drones to patrol crime-plagued areas of the city beginning today, January 6, according to the daily newspaper El Sol de Tijuana.
The city has acquired two drones to add to its crime-fighting arsenal, with plans to buy up to four more, El Sol reported. The miniature aircraft will be used to observe parts of the city where it would be too dangerous or difficult for regular patrols.
In addition to the drones, Tijuana police have a network of cameras placed across town and at least one helicopter to aid in their crime-fighting activities.
The drones are a cost-saving measure — helicopters are much more expensive and require a pilot. El Sol said the two drones cost the city $5000.
There are drawbacks, however, according to the newspaper: the battery-powered drones are capable of staying airborne for only about 15 to 45 minutes at a time.
Alejandro Lares Valladares, secretary of municipal public safety, told the newspaper that, because of the time limits, the drones will be used only in specific situations and only in "strategic areas" of the city.
Lares said the city has plans to purchase longer-lasting batteries that can be quickly recharged. Suppliers will be asked to include infrared cameras on future drones purchased by police.