Crow Wing’s eye in the sky put to use 30+ times in 2020

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Sheriff Scott Goddard said he was surprised how often the four drones shared between agencies come in handy, and the technology allows them to improve public safety responses in a way they’ve never been able to before. He offered the example of using infrared technology to scan a lake for an overdue boater at night in 10 to 15 minutes.

Calls included vehicles through ice, fires, missing children and a vulnerable adult, crash reconstructions, a duck hunter in need of rescue, a burglary in progress and someone fleeing in a stolen vehicle, Crow Wing County Sheriff Scott Goddard and Emergency Management Director John Bowen told county commissioners Jan. 26. The sheriff’s office compiled the data on the previous year’s drone use as part of new reporting requirements to the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension passed by the Legislature last year.

Goddard said he was surprised how often the four drones shared between agencies come in handy, and the technology allows them to improve public safety responses in a way they’ve never been able to before. He offered the example of using infrared technology to scan a lake for an overdue boater at night in 10 to 15 minutes.

“That’s capability that we have never had in the past. Even beyond I’d say what some helicopters have,” Goddard said.

Read more: DRONE REGULATION OVERHAULS PUBLISHED

Beyond locating an overdue boater, two of the four drones are more advanced and can use a claw to carry life jackets to those stranded in the water. Although this has yet to be deployed in a real-life situation, Goddard said it could be useful in the early and late winter, when inevitably people fall through thin ice.

Bowen and Goddard pointed out some of the advantages of using drones to reconstruct vehicle crashes.

“It’s helped a lot with real-time information,” Bowen said. “A lot of times we can get there while the scene is still active or they’re cleaning up the scene. So it’s a little quicker than waiting for a recon(struction) specialist say from MSP (Minnesota State Patrol) to come from a couple hours away. So it really speeds up the whole process.”

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Source: Chelsey M. Perkins 

Photo credit: Press



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