Oregon ok’s purchase of a drone for police, fire

Oregon Police Drone Search and Rescue

This post originally appeared on http://www.presspublications.com/18372-oregon-ok-s-purchase-of-a-drone-for-police-fire.

[Editor’s Note: In addition to helping locate missing individuals, the drone could also possibly be used in major disasters, such as floods or tornadoes.]

Oregon City Council recently approved the purchase of a drone for the police and fire departments.

Oregon applied for a state grant to fund the drone, which would assist the police and fire departments in rescue situations.

The city agreed to pay $35,499 to Toledo Aerial Media, of Ottawa Lake, Michigan, to purchase the unmanned aircraft system.

In May, Oregon council wanted to do more research before approving an earlier proposal for a more expensive drone that would have cost $75,000. At the time, Councilman Tim Zale, chairman of the Safety Committee, thought the higher cost was “an expensive purchase,” though he agreed it would benefit the city.

Zale conducted research on other models that were cheaper, but were just as effective as the more expensive one, described as a “military-grade” drone made by Sentera, of Richfield, Minnesota. The costlier drone was equipped with software and antennae for Project Lifesaver, which helps locate people with cognitive disabilities that may cause them to wander. Project Lifesaver involves attaching a personal transmitter to the wrists or ankles of people with autism, dementia, Alzheimer’s or other mental issues. If they get lost, the drone would be able to track the signal. Zale believed the city could use cheaper technology to do the same thing.

Practical applications
Drones assist in tactical operations, search and rescue, criminal investigations, traffic crash reconstruction, crime scene mapping and the identification of trouble spots in fighting fires. They are used in assessing the needs for resources and the extent of damages after major disasters, such as floods and tornados.

The idea to buy a drone was brought up in the police department last year.

“We looked at several different models,” said Police Chief Mike Navarre. “This one seems to fit our needs very well. It’s a nice tool to have to help officers in time of need.”

He said he agreed with Councilman Terry Reeves when the Safety Committee discussed possibly purchasing a drone that would save lives.

“He said it best: `If it saves one life, then it’s worth it.’ I agree wholeheartedly with that,” said Navarre. “It’s new technology. It may be obsolete three years from now. But it’s not a large expenditure of money. It’s not what we originally proposed when we came to council. But it’s a good piece of equipment from a local vendor.”
Cut costs
Council President Dennis Walendzak thanked Zale for doing further research on drones and saving the city money.

“Thanks for doing your homework on this. He found that there’s technology out there for a much lower price point,” said Walendzak. “Mr. Zale’s efforts saved the community thousands and thousands of dollars on a drone that will meet the needs of our police and fire forces. I think the drone technology will be used well with our fire and rescue, and our police forces. You put a lot of work into this.”

“I’m very happy with this drone that we found,” said Zale, a retired Oregon police officer. “I think there are so many practical applications to this for both the police and fire department. I can’t think of a downside for us having this at all, other than I hope we don’t fight over using it. I think there will be applications to use this all over the city. I think this is a very useful tool.”


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