Home » LMPD getting long-range drones in $100K technology pilot program

LMPD getting long-range drones in $100K technology pilot program

Street racing and off-road vehicles causing fatalities and property damage

LOUISVILLE — Every Louisville Metro Police Department division office will soon get a long-range drone for training and technology services to be used in street racing violations, missing persons cases, traffic collisions, SWAT situations, water rescues and more.

Mayor Craig Greenberg,  (LMPD) Chief Jacquelyn Gwinn-Villaroel, District 12 Councilman Rick Blackwell and District 14 Councilwoman Cindi Fowler announced $100,000 in funding for a technology pilot program that will strengthen public safety throughout the city.

“In order to move Louisville in a new direction, toward a safer, stronger and healthier future, we must take a multi-layered approach to tackling crime and making our community safer,” said Mayor Craig Greenberg. “From the Chief and I to leaders at Metro Council, community members and more, this is yet another example of how we are all committed to working together to find real solutions that will deliver results.”

“LMPD’s top priorities are public safety and protecting our community. To effectuate our goals, we consistently seek innovative tools to incorporate into our crime mitigation strategies. We also evaluate best practices in the field of law enforcement and invest in equipment and training that we believe will benefit residents and visitors of our great city,” said Chief Gwinn-Villaroel. “LMPD is grateful for the support of Mayor Greenberg and members of Metro Council who recognize the value of implementing crime-fighting technology to keep Louisville a safer place to live, work, and visit.”

The pilot program was made possible through collaboration between Louisville Metro Council, LMPD and the Greenberg Administration. Metro Council provided $48,000 through an ordinance appropriation, sponsored by Councilman Blackwell and Councilwoman Fowler. Both Council members advocated for drone technology program due to dangerous street racing and off-road vehicles in their districts that have caused fatalities and property damage.

“This is a city-wide issue affecting our streets and neighborhoods. Illegal use of off-road vehicles is causing property damage and taking innocent lives. In District 14 we’ve had several fatalities related to these vehicles. These drones will assist LMPD in quickly tracking dangerous situations, allowing officers to take appropriate enforcement action,” said Councilwoman Cindi Fowler (D-14).

“Currently, LMPD lacks the necessary equipment to monitor this illegal activity, but we’re hoping to change that by providing them with advanced drone tools for more effective law enforcement. This aerial surveillance technology is cutting edge and will greatly assist LMPD in apprehending and citing these repeat offenders,” said Councilman Dr. Rick Blackwell (D-12).

The drones will allow LMPD to identify where off-road vehicles committing the crimes are being housed so that they can ultimately confiscate the vehicle or issue a violation.

This is the latest in a series of investments for public safety, including the $448 million Mayor Greenberg directed in his proposed budget to make Louisville a safer city by decreasing violence and protecting more lives.

Since taking office in January 2023, Mayor Greenberg has made public safety a priority for his administration. One of his first actions as Mayor was naming Jacquelyn Gwinn-Villaroel as LMPD Police Chief. Chief Gwinn-Villaroel established the Non-Fatal Shooting Squad, a team focused on investigating these crimes to curb gun violence and prevent future tragedies.

Homicides were down by 16% in 2023, compared to 2021. During that same two-year period, there was a 38% decrease in nonfatal shootings.

Greenberg and his administration also expanded the successful Deflection Program, a partnership with Seven Counties that sends social workers to respond to certain 911 calls that require a non-police response. In 2023, the team responded to over 1,000 calls.

The Mayor and LMPD also opened a new, state-of-the-art health and wellness facility for Louisville’s first responders in October 2023. The Summit Wellness Center was a joint effort between LMPD, Louisville Metro Police Foundation and other partners to offer physical and mental health support, as well as financial counseling and family support services. The center is now serving as a national model of how to support first responders and ultimately boost public safety.

For more information on Mayor Greenberg and his administration, visit LouisvilleKy.gov.