SAVANNAH, Ga. (CBS Local) — Police in Savannah, Georgia, are deploying five drones to get the message out about practicing social distancing.
The drones fly a hundred feet in the air and cover a much larger area than any officer could on foot. Two of them enforce social distancing with pre-recorded messages.
“This is the Savannah Police Department, due to the current health emergency, members of the public are reminded to keep a safe distance of six feet from others,” the message says through a public address system.
Police say they are following Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) guidelines and aren’t flying the drones over crowds or in prohibited locations.
Police in Savannah, Georgia, are using drones with pre-recorded messages to enforce social distancing rules in the city. https://t.co/PZ1EMusy4g
— CBS 17 (@WNCN) April 14, 2020
“We do not use our drones for random patrol, they’re not flying all the time,” Savannah Police Sergeant Jason Pagliaro told WSAV. “We use them in directed areas where the need is present.”
The department also confirmed that the drones will not be recording footage or taking pictures.
According to the Georgia Department of Public Health, Chatham County, in which Savannah is located, has 154 active COVID-19 cases and five fatalities.
Police departments in Daytona Beach, Florida, Meriden, Connecticut, and Elizabeth, New Jersey, are also deploying drones with pre-recorded warnings to emphasize social distancing and stay-at-home orders.
Regarding comments on drones, we are trying to save lives, not be big brother. If this plan saves 1 life, then its worth it. All its doing is spreading an automated notice about social distance. No recording or pictures are taken, just a tool of encouragement to follow the rules. pic.twitter.com/KnptwsxBQ2
— Elizabeth NJ Police (@epdnj) April 8, 2020
The tactic was first used in China, CNN reported in February. Britain, Spain and France have also used loudspeaker drones to remind residents about travel restrictions and other guidelines.