Law Enforcement officers in Pennington County now have access to two new drones. Departments will share the tools using specific FAA guidelines.
Officers take turns sending a sleek drone into the sky. They use a large remote control and watch as a screen displays its surroundings. Officers are calling this tool their ‘eye in the sky’.
Dustin Morrison is the Special Operations Lieutenant for the Pennington County Sheriff's Office. He says they need to learn the rules of operation.
“The FAA strictly regulates a lot of the things that we can and can not do so we have to have a mission specific thing for us to be able to fly or training purposes. We’re not out flying just for the heck of it.”
Ten pilots from the Pennington County Sheriff's office, Search and Rescue and the Rapid City Police Department are certified to fly the drone. Morrison says the drone provides assistance when people go missing and it can help keep officers safer.
“For example in a tactical situation it can go where a person may have to have gone in the past. And with the camera capabilities and allow us to look in areas where a person would have to stand in the past.”
Two drones, one large and another smaller are part of a kit that includes the handheld controls. The price tag? Nearly 56 thousand dollars.
“We have the smaller one for training purposes as well as any time we’re deployed, we’re going to bring that with us as well because it’s more quickly deployable. It doesn’t take much set up, you can get that up right away. While the larger one takes a little more set up. But the larger on has more high resolution cameras, it has the infrared on it.”
The drones can fly 400 feet above the ground and have a battery life of half an hour.