On Thursday, the Richland County Sheriff’s Office received approval to acquire a $19,997 DJI Matrice 210 V2 drone. The police drone will provide a set of eyes in the sky and is considered a “necessary tool for you to do your job.”
Police drone is a “necessary tool for you to do your job.”
The acquisition of the DJI Matrice 210 V2 Police drone for the sheriff’s department was approved last Thursday by county commissioners. The commercial grade drone is identical to the unmanned aircraft that are used by Police departments in Mansfield and Ontario, told Captain Jim Sweat to the county commissioners.
“It’s a very capable drone for what we need to do in law enforcement. It’s definitely a force multiplier and will enhance officer and public safety, said Sweat.”
During a large protest in Mansfield in 2020, a police drone was able to observe and relay information back to police officers without having to interact with the protesters, Sweat explained. At one point there was an allegation that fire arms were being pulled in a wagon by activists.
“The drone was able to fly above and officers were able to see there were no weapons. They managed to do this without having to interact with the protestors,” Sweat said.
The new police drone will come equipped with a thermal imaging camera, making it suitable for finding missing people, suspects and being used during Search and Rescue missions.
The sheriff’s department already has one Part 107 pilot and is ready to train more people to become commercial drone pilots.
“Our plan is to have sufficient numbers of employees (FAA) certified to operate this drone,” Sweat said.
County commissioners Tony Vero and Cliff Mears agreed and added that they felt that a police drone was needed.
“We want to be the leaders in law enforcement in the county. We do have the capital funds for it,” , Vero said.
Mears reportedly told Sweat, “I think it’s a necessary tool for you to do your job.”
While we fully agree that Police Drones are indispensable tools, Capt. Sweat also mentioned that the Federal Aviation Administration allows law enforcement departments to operate a drone without having to obtain a Part 107 certificate. This is correct but comes with a caveat. Public safety organizations can use a COA to complete their own training in lieu of the official FAA training but it has to be at least as good or better then the Part 107 requirements. Furthermore, they will not obtain a Part 107 certificate under that route, and their flights are purely restricted to public safety. This means that training flights, demonstrations, etc are not allowed. The easier and preferred way would be to have the officers obtain their Part 107 certificates.
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