After a tragic incident earlier this year, the Burlington Police Department has invested in a cutting-edge Chinese Drone Technology. The tragedy occurred last February when a local woman went missing. Despite an all-night search, she was found dead. The incident highlighted the limitations of the department's outdated drone, which was incapable of flying in the harsh winter conditions.
The department's Drone Unit, established in 2017, has been a pioneer in using drones for a variety of missions ranging from Search and Rescue to tracking hot-spots for the fire department. But with the current drone now considered obsolete and ineffective, especially its thermal imaging, the unit was due for an upgrade.
“Our drone is outdated. The thermal imaging is useless. We have a [drone] unit that is capable of so much, but we are hindered by the equipment we have,” said Burlington Police Sergeant Peter Abaskharoun.
The new drone, the Chinese-made DJI Matrice 30T, comes with a hefty price tag of $16,856, but the police department and local authorities view it as a worthy investment. Unlike the old drone, the new one can fly in any weather and is equipped with 4K thermal zooming capabilities.
The investment brought a sense of relief to the Select Board. One of its members, Jim Tigges, recalled the February incident, stating, “Not being able to fly [the drone] back in February, led us here today.”
Another board member, Michael Espejo, reportedly expressed his support: “Having this drone will make the difference in finding a missing child or person, among all the other situations it can be of great aid.”
The cost of the new drone will be covered by the Burlington Police Chief's Operating Budget, hence, no voting was necessary.
This decisive move will ensure that the department is equipped with the latest technology to continue serving the Burlington community effectively.
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