Burleigh County in North Dakota covers a lot of territory. Containing the state’s capitol, Bismarck, the county has a population of more than 81,000 people – and covers an area of over 1,600 miles. To serve that area, the Burleigh County Sheriff’s Department has been innovative in adopting new technologies – including drones.
The Sheriff’s Department currently operates 5 drones. They are used for accident reconstructions, allowing crashes to be documented effectively and roads cleared quickly. They’re used in search operations for missing people. They’re used to help officers track down fleeing suspects; and they’re used to document crime scenes for investigations and prosecutions.
With it’s large land area, sparse population, and economic centers of agriculture and oil, drones have a lot to offer North Dakota – and the state has been active in working to advance the technology. As part of the North Dakota Department of Transportation (NDDOT) UAS Integration Pilot Program, the Burleigh County Sheriff’s Department has now received a federal waiver to routinely fly drones over people, allowing them to utilize the technology in more situations. Burleigh County is only the second county law enforcement agency in the nation to receive the waiver, and the first in the state of North Dakota.
“One of NDDOT’s goals is to work with law enforcement to help expand their capabilities,” says Russ Buchholz, UAS program administrator for NDDOT. “We collaborated with FAA and the Sheriff’s Department on the waiver process to enable safe operations of UAS in North Dakota.”
The waiver was received to fly a DJI Mavic 2 series, equipped with a ParaZero SafeAir parachute recovery system. ParaZero offers a system compliant with ASTM standards for flight over people, which should make it easier for the FAA to evaluate applications, and easier for agencies to receive waivers.
“ParaZero is thrilled to supply Burleigh County’s Sheriff Department with the ASTM compliant SafeAir Systems that they need for their operations under this waiver. As the first law enforcement agency to secure a 107.39 waiver, their achievement paves the way for other agencies as well.” says Avi Lozowick, Vice President of Policy and Strategy at ParaZero.
The Burleigh County Sheriff’s Department hopes that the waiver will help demonstrate the safe use of drones to other agencies in North Dakota.
“This waiver will not only benefit our community but the entire state,” Tom Schroeder, Deputy Sheriff of Burleigh County, tells DRONELIFE. “While performing search and rescue operations, accident reconstruction, or documenting a crime scene, we know that we are being as safe as possible as we use this great technology.”