Sheriff’s Department drone saves lives after 200 successful flights

After 200 successful flights, the Winston County Sheriff’s Department drone is saving both lives and money. The police drone has only been in use for one year and already the sheriff feels it is a game-changer for his organization in

Sheriff’s Department drone saves lives and money after 200 successful flights

The Winston County Sheriff’s Department’s new drone completed 195 successful flights in its first full year of operation, and the sheriff feels it is a game-changer for his organization.

“When you can fly this over a 100-acre area in less than an hour, where it would take a search team half a day to search, that is huge in the time saved and how quickly you can locate a missing or lost or hurt person,” Sheriff Jason Pugh says.

A Highway Patrol helicopter would have cost $18,400 to fly as many hours as their drone did in 2021, according to the department. The Winston County Sheriff’s Department has been seeking a better approach to undertake missions in the surrounding rough terrain without having to devote so many people and resources for years. In late January 2021, the department discovered its solution in the shape of the EVO II Dual 640T.

Autel EVO II Dual drone saves lives and money

Sheriff'S Department Drone Saves Lives And Money After 200 Successful Flights

Deputy Scott Kohrs, the drone pilot, adds, “I can cover 2-square miles in about 20 to 30 minutes.” “Which would take at least three hours with 10 to 20 deputies and volunteers.”

The drone has a maximum flying time of 40 minutes, a hover period of up to 35 minutes, and a range of up to four miles. During its first year, the drone assisted deputies in the capture of two fugitives, three elderly persons with dementia, and three youngsters, as well as four fire support missions.

“When you have children, dementia patients or elderly in the woods, finding them and finding them quickly is critical to their survival,” Sheriff Pugh says.

Deputy Kohrs, the drone’s pilot, has become skilled at working with ground crews and understanding how varied conditions impact the drone’s thermal camera.

“With radio communications with the ground crew search teams, we can actually coordinate our movements,” Deputy Kohrs says. “Where I can actually talk someone onto a heat signature that I identify.”

This type of incident occurred on Saturday as the sheriff’s department looked for an arson suspect.

“I was one of the searchers in the woods and had come within 10 feet of him myself without being able to spot him the way he was camouflaged,” Sheriff Pugh says. “But he couldn’t hide from that thermal imagery on that drone.”

The drone has even been requested to fly missions in the counties of Neshoba, Kemper, and Webster reports WCBI.

“It has definitely saved lives, saved save taxpayers money and saved danger to officers,” the sheriff says.

The department spent $15,000 on the drone, which was obtained with the support of many individual contributors. Sheriff Pugh says they’ll be training a second deputy to fly the drone soon. He also stated that they will be testing a program in the next three weeks that will feed live drone footage to phones, tablets, and other devices.

You can read more stories about drones being used for good here.

Sheriff'S Department Drone Saves Lives And Money After 200 Successful Flights

Sheriff'S Department Drone Saves Lives After 200 Successful Flights 1

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Photo credits: WCBI and Stephen Pimpo.

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Haye Kesteloo

Haye Kesteloo is the Editor in Chief and Founder of DroneXL.co, where he covers all drone-related news, DJI rumors and writes drone reviews, and EVXL.co, for all news related to electric vehicles. He is also a co-host of the PiXL Drone Show on YouTube and other podcast platforms. Haye can be reached at haye @ dronexl.co or @hayekesteloo.

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