NORTH PORT, Fla. (WWSB) - They started as tools for the military, but drones are now buzzing their way into the hands of law enforcement and first responders. One local agency in Sarasota County also has their own pilots now – the North Port Police Department.
“I think this is just one of those things that is the future in law enforcement to utilize a tool that could help,” Josh Taylor, the Public Information Officer for the North Port Police Department, said.
The North port Police Department will now be using a drone to help solve crimes and save lives.
“The vast majority of these issue are just being able to get these bird’s eye view. It’s not necessarily to record something and be able to go back and look at,” Taylor explained.
The department says it has been researching the drone, its capabilities and how other law enforcement departments throughout the state have used it. This technology can not only help find missing persons, but help officials see what kind of damage a storm might have caused in some areas or what roads are now blocked – before sending officers into the danger zone.
“Right now, we have to call the sheriff’s helicopter for a lot of those instances which obviously comes at a huge cost. Plus, there’s always a little bit of a delay in getting up into the sky and going on the search. Having a drone on every shift, will allow us to get it up within just a few minutes,” Taylor said.
North Port now has one of their own, costing just about $2,000 dollars, and has six trained deputies who received the challenging Federal Aviation Administration certificate to be able to operate the new equipment.
“There’s always somebody who is working who has these capabilities because you never know when somebody is going to go missing or when we have a situation where just being able to go up and look down is helpful,” explained Taylor.
Right now, the department can only fly the drone during the day, but they are in the process of getting approval for nighttime flying from the Federal Aviation Administration. They should be receiving it within 30 days.