‘Drones’ used by local law enforcement agencies

Indiana Conservation Office using drones for search and rescue

[Editor’s Note: Jonathon Boyd, Indiana Conservation Officer, shared that drones will help to speed up their response and save lives.]

This post originally appeared on http://www.wndu.com/content/news/Drones-used-by-local-law-enforcement-agencies–402765626.html.

There’s a unique “pilot” project underway in Indiana.

Four state conservation officers have been trained to fly small unmanned aircraft systems (SUAS).

The drone like vessels will be used in search and rescue efforts. “This type of tool will speed up our response and help save lives,” said Indiana Conservation Officer Jonathon Boyd.

For instance, the ability to take to the air should make it easier for those with boots on the ground to respond to incidents on the water. “In flood waters where there’s lots of unknowns, if we send an officer in a boat, the rescuers in that boat lives are put at risk,” said Boyd. “We can search the area first with the vehicle, and then once we pinpoint where a person is then we can send an officer straight to that point.”

The DNR law enforcement win is the state’s premier agency for water rescue and search and rescue. Conservation officers will only use unmanned aircraft systems in situations where someone’s life is clearly in jeopardy.

“You have somebody that went into the lake, they didn’t come back out, we can send the system out there immediately,” said Boyd. “Dunes State Park is three miles of shoreline so searching that with just one person can take a long time where as if we have this system in place we can take a long time, whereas if we have this system in place we can search that area much faster.”

Meantime another local law enforcement agency was seen using a drone last September to reconstruct a complicated auto accident. “Google Earth is fabulous but it doesn’t have the locations of the cars, with the ability to take pictures from the air. We can get pictures of a crash scene that show you exactly the final resting spot of all the involved items,” said Eric Tamashasky with St. Joseph County’s Fatal Alcohol Crash Team.

There was a day when the team had to call a fire department ladder truck to get shots from above—those days are gone.

“The drone gives you an angle that was previously inaccessible, that’s amazing.” said Tamashasky. “Here’s an actual photograph with the involved items, with the involved vehicles, involved building in them, it’s real time.”

The FACT team doesn’t own its drone. The vehicle is the property of one of its members.

The DNR law enforcement wing does own two drones. One will be based in Porter County and the other in Wabash County.

Technically, conservation officers don’t consider the aircraft “drones.”

By definition a drone is capable of flying without constant human input—the Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems do require constant human input.

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