The unmanned aircraft system will be used by the Allen County Homeland Security and Emergency Management. The drone will be equipped with thermal technology to assist in search-and-rescue operations as well as inspections.
The Lima area has a new eye in the sky to assist law enforcement in the search for missing persons.
Allen County Commissioners approved a policy for an unmanned aircraft system that will be used by the Allen County Homeland Security and Emergency Management. EMA director Tom Berger weighed in on the new drone Thursday morning at the commissioners’ meeting.
“The sheriff’s office applied for a grant a couple of years ago for a new drone and that drone was approved,” said Berger. “A part of that approval process is having a FEMA-approved policies and procedures manual. That went through the whole process after FEMA got approved and the drone was purchased — It’s a FEMA-approved policy that we have to have on record that outlines when we can fly, the conditions we can fly and making sure we’re protecting the public of all civil liberties when we are flying.”
The DJI30T is equipped with has thermal technology. According to the Department of Homeland Security’s website, ‘thermal imaging can be used to identify objects in total darkness’.
“When we get a call out for the drones and a law enforcement agency says we got someone running; it (the policy) kind of spells out when we can fly and when we can’t fly, any information that we gather, public records, making sure that we are retaining that information and making sure we are not violating civil rights when we are out flying,” said Berger.
According to Berger, the drone will be operated by ‘pilots’ who work for the EMA.
Although the technology is new to Allen County, Berger said the drone has been used in other parts of the country.
“This is brand new for us,” said Berger. “It has been around for a while through FEMA but we just acquired the drone through a grant and in order to get the grant approved you have to have the policies and procedures approved through FEMA before you could even make an acquisition.”
Deputy Director Travis Fillhart said the drone was purchased around two weeks ago. The department is currently training with the drone before it will be in full use.
Fillhart also said there are many uses for the drone including looking for missing persons or children, a tool for fire departments and even aiding in bridge inspections.
-The Lima News, Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC
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