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Jackson County Sheriff's Department Adds Drones To The Force

Last updated on Tuesday, March 13, 2018

(SEYMOUR) - The Jackson County Sheriff’s Department recently added the latest technology to its arsenal of crime-fighting tools, and it could be a game changer in more ways than one.

But before that can happen, Jordan Richart is a correspondent for The Seymour Tribune reports the department personnel will have to complete training and get waivers to use two drones purchased in the fall.

The drones will be used in a variety of situations, including the pursuit of people fleeing officers and accident reconstruction, Sheriff Mike Carothers said.

They also can be used to help find a missing person.

There isn't a timetable yet when the department can begin using it in situations. The Federal Aviation Administration regulates drones and their use.

Waivers are needed for flying over crowds, within restricted airspace, at night, more than 400 feet in the air and out of line of sight. The FAA issues those waivers.

The department ordered one less-expensive drone for training purposes and for smaller accident reconstruction. The cost was around $900.

The larger drone, a Matrice 210, is equipped with an abundance of tools and gadgets the department will use in nearly any situation. It had a cost of around $17,000.

Taxpayer money was not used to purchase the drones. They were funded through commissary accounts at the jail.
Commissary funds are raised from inmates who pay for phone calls, extra food and other items and services. The department typically uses the funds to replace things like flat-screen televisions and other technology needed at the jail. The Indiana State Board of Accounts audits those funds and their usage.

The larger drone includes a camera, a zoom camera and infrared imaging. The infrared camera cost $6,000 but will be one of the more useful features. Infrared imaging uses heat sources to find people.

The Matrice is able to withstand any weather condition. It is equipped with a tracking system that will allow it to secure a target, such as a person or a car, and follow it without police controlling it. When it runs low on battery, it will return to the controller, allow police to change a fresh set of batteries and remember its target.

The small one will be used for accident reconstruction where it will fly above the scene for photos and video, giving police a new perspective of crashes. This past year, county officers investigated 728 accidents, including two with fatalities.

Sheriff Carothers says the drones will be available to assist other departments if needed.

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