Law-enforcement agencies nationwide continue to stay in hot pursuit of emerging drone technology. So, once again, DRONELIFE issues an All-Points Bulletin for public-safety UAV news:
In McDonough, local commissioners have OK’ed the purchase of two high-end drones using more than $18,000 seized from drug raids. In addition to a DJI Phantom 3 Pro, the Henry County Police Department will buy a Maxsur Seeker SAR Compact, a specialty drone equipped for search and rescue with a dual-camera thermal and visible spectrum array.
HCPD Special Operations Commander Chuck Simmons says the drones will be used to locate “critical missing people.”
“All missing people are critical, but to us, to have this special title, it involves a situation with a missing younger child or elderly person or someone with a mental illness, like dementia or Alzheimer’s, to make it even more dangerous,” Simmons told the Henry County Herald.
Police usually rely on the generosity of taxpayers when buying a drone, but a small agency in Connecticut benefited from a mystery donor.
An anonymous resident donated $10,000 to the Plainfield Police Department to buy a DJI Inspire UAV with thermal imaging sensors and high-def video. The gift came as pleasant but much-needed surprise to Capt. Mario Arriaga since the department had already kicked around the idea of buying a UAV.
“We just couldn’t afford it and we weren’t going to go to taxpayers for that kind of purchase,” Arriaga told the Norwich Bulletin.
Like many departments, the Plainfield PD plans to launch the drone for traffic-accident investigations, search-and-rescue operations and anti-drug efforts.
“We have a lot of forest here and get a lot of calls for autistic children that walk away from homes,” Chief Michael Surprenant told the media. “Instead of calling for a state police chopper, we can launch this drone for searches, which saves fuel money and in manpower, while giving us the option to search a much bigger area quicker.”
Calling drone deployment a “force multiplier,” the Modesto Police Department says its purchase of three DJI models could help locate a fleeing suspect quicker than four or five officers.
To get the public comfortable with drones hovering over local skies, the department recently demonstrated their new purchase in a mall parking lot. Police wanted to emphasize the safety factor by showing how the DJI drones return to the pilot after losing remote connection.
A police spokesperson told the Modesto Bee the dro0nes have already completed a successful mission by helping a water-rescue team navigate through a tough stretch of a local river.