MOUNDSVILLE, W.Va. — The annual Mock Prison Riot at the old Moundsville State Penitentiary is underway. The 4-day training session gives law enforcement a chance to practice their skills in a prison setting. This is the 18th year of the event which brings in police and corrections officers from around the world.
Those attending are getting a lesson on new technology that’s already posing problems for prisons around the world — drones.
“These toy remote helicopters and quadcopters are being used to sneak in contraband over prison walls including drugs, weapons, cell phones, those kinds of things,” according to Brian Hearing, the co-founder of Drone Shield.
Last fall several people were arrested for using a drone to drop marijuana into a Georgia prison. In Canada, drones were used to sneak in cell phones to a lock up. Overseas, they’re seeing weapons showing up in prisons that were brought in by drones.
Hearing said they’ll be using drones to help train officers for what they should expect.
“The first drill the drone just drops in from overhead and drops in the contraband. Then they have to go in and extract the contraband. If that includes weapons, that could really raise security issues,” stressed Hearing.
His company sells drone detecting devices that prisons can install to warn them if a drone is approaching. The participants will use Drone Shield to help them determine what’s happening.
“The second drill will be when they get warning that drones are coming in. In that case, they’re going to run some different scenarios of clearing the yard, having inmates lie down until the drone can be taken care of,” explained Hearing.
Hearing hopes law enforcement attending the mock riot will get a true understanding of just how big a problem drones have already become in the U.S. and why they need a protection system like Drone Shield.
“From the officers I talk to, they believe this threat not going to go away. And as drones proliferate around the world the threat is going to become more and more serious. So having a device that can give you a warning, gives you a heads up that drones are coming in should at least help with that,” said Hearing.
This year’s mock riot will also include a lecture series as well as workshops.