Minnesota police department gets new drone

ROCHESTER, Minn. (AP) — A police department in southern Minnesota has acquired a new drone that it hopes to use to track people who wander off because of certain conditions.
The Rochester Police Department acquired the drone to add to their Project Lifesaver initiative, which monitors adults and children who wander due to Alzheimer’s, autism and other related conditions or disorders, the Post Bulletin (http://bit.ly/2rWwhx6) reported.
Clients wear a transmitter that is activated when they wander so police can quickly respond to save their lives or protect them from injury.
The drone can switch out an antenna for the camera, enabling law enforcement to see the direction of a transmitting signal. The drone’s camera has thermal, night vision and day vision capabilities.
Officer Rey Caban said there have been several cases where he requested aviation support, but a helicopter wasn’t available. So he came up with the idea of using a drone instead.
“Not having availability, I can understand the frustration it can cause, so I’m excited we can actually deploy someone in a short period of time,” he said.
The drone and special training for four officers cost about $68,000. The officers are licensed pilots who follow Federal Aviation Administration regulations because they’re operating the drone for a public agency.
The drone was made by international aerospace company Lockheed Martin. Its carbon fiber body is very strong and durable, Caban said. The drone can fly for nearly an hour, while most other drones can only fly about 20 minutes, he said.
Caban said the drone has the potential to take away the stress from entering a situation with little information.
“I’m excited to have this,” Caban said, “to potentially save a life — and not just to save the life of someone in immediate danger, but to save officers from confronting an unknown.”
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Information from: Post-Bulletin, http://www.postbulletin.com

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