The Miami-Dade Police Department finally stands ready to launch their two micro air vehicles, or MAVs, the next time a shooting standoff or hostage situation could use a bird's eye boost, more than two years after getting the drones.
"It has no weapons," said Sergeant Andrew Cohen, one of the county's 12 pilot officers. "It's just a camera, basically a flying camera."
About the size of an office waste-basket, the drones can fly as high as 300 feet, snapping still pictures and capturing video to send back to its remote operators on the ground.
Cohen says the same device was sent to inspect nuclear reactors in Japan following the 2011 tsunami.
He also says it will save officers' lives.
"You're trying to minimize risk to any of our officers and equipment as well."
Addressing privacy questions, Cohen noted that the devises were pretty noisy. "You're not sneaking up on someone," he said, emphasizing the MAVs will be used in limited situations where an aerial view in a tactical confrontation could prove helpful.
The agency received the MAVs in August 2009 thanks to a Department of Justice grant.
Cohen said the entire system is worth about $200,000.