The State of New York has launched an unmanned aerial system program for its state police, which will be used to support law enforcement missions, including disaster response and traffic safety, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced.

The first four drones will be put into service this month, distributed throughout the state. By April 2018, an additional 14 aerial drones will be deployed.

"This state-of-the-art technology will improve emergency response, improve operational and cost efficiencies and increase trooper safety," Governor Cuomo said in a statement. "We will continue to implement innovative technologies to improve our ability to protect New Yorkers across this great state."

The State Police will use drone technologies for law enforcement and public safety missions, taking advantage of the flexibility and efficiencies that aerial drones provide. Unmanned aerial systems provide a significant cost savings over manned aircraft, reducing response times and making operations more efficient and cost effective. The drones can also be used in dangerous situations and environments, including natural disasters, keeping state troopers out of harm's way.

The drones can document and help reconstruct serious motor vehicle crashes in less time than with current methods, resulting in shorter road closures, lessening the impact on motorists. Investigators will also use the aerial drones to document and photograph crime scenes.

State Police members who will operate the unmanned aerial system will be certified by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and undergo 32 hours of hands-on training with the systems.  

The New York State Trooper Foundation is donating 16 of the aerial drone systems to the state police. The foundation was established to assist the state police in its public service mission by forging partnerships between the state police and the private sector.