Miami-Dade police are toying with a new crime-fighting device: a Honeywell T-Hawk drone that can soar to more than 9,000 feet, stop on a dime and hang in midair like a hummingbird while training powerful lenses on its prey. Police began testing their two T-Hawks about four years ago after receiving a grant from the U.S. Department of Justice. One was purchased, the other leased from the manufacturer for $1 a year. Each unit, operated on land by a laptop, costs only about $50,000.
The T-Hawks are similar to the drone-aircraft technology the military claims is working so effectively at hunting down terrorists in Iraq and Afghanistan. For the moment, the Federal Aviation Administration allows Miami-Dade police to fly the drones no more than 400 feet high and only over barren Everglades land. The department hopes to get permission to fly over urban areas some time this year. Officials say the device could be useful to the Special Response Team and other tactical units in standoffs or hostage situations.