By ANTHONY FLORES
Since the Liberty Hill Police Department acquired a drone, the new tool from local law enforcement has proven to be worth the investment.
“I think it was about six months ago, but we were the first drone at the scene of the Cedar Park shooting. We were able to monitor the house and continue transmitting messages to the command center, ”said the LHPD sergeant. Robert Fox. “The system we have is called Drone Sense. We monitor the entire flight via an iPad. It’s all over the internet, so when we monitor what’s going on at our Incident Command Post, they can watch the video live. In the event of an incident, they can make calls from a safe distance.
Several potential uses for the drone were taken into account when the ministry decided to purchase the machine.
“A little over a year ago, we decided to buy the drone,” Fox said. “They are useful when it comes to search and rescue and also trying to locate missing and elderly people. They’re also great when trying to locate a fugitive.
A crucial step in the deployment of a done is training to fly the device through a variety of scenarios.
“I was the first to attend Drone Pilot Inc. They send you for a course and teach you how to fly them indoors, in high risk situations, through the wind or even against armed suspects,” Fox said. “We were provided with smaller drones, training drones that are there for any incident.”
With many drones on the market, the department reached out to Unmanned Vehicle Technologies, to get an idea of what would best suit their needs.
“After talking with them, we were able to fine-tune what we wanted for our drone. That’s when we picked the Mavik 2 Enterprise drone, ”Fox said. “This drone is our remote drone. It takes off and can travel a few kilometers and a few hundred feet in the air. It also has infrared, so at night we can search for suspects or anyone missing. “
In addition to the Mavik 2, the department has several smaller drones that are cheaper, easily replaceable, and can help in undercover situations.
“We also have micro-drones that fly with glasses in the first person. These are the type of drones that if we have a high risk situation or something dangerous we can put them inside, ”Fox said. “The officers can stand outside and see what’s going on. If we have a suspect in a house, with the drone we can see everything inside. They are also more disposable. If they are disassembled, the drone can be replaced.
Beyond traditional police situations, the drone can help in the event of a natural disaster.
“If we have flooding or something like that, usually the next day, emergency management will come out and want to see how things go. Drones can be dispatched to see the damage, ”Fox said.
Ultimately, the drone is a tool that helps the ministry do more with less risk.
“The primary concern is the safety of officers at all times,” Fox said. “Before the drones arrived, you were trying to find a building owner to give you plans for the scene, but you still wouldn’t be able to find out the whereabouts of a suspect. You can keep the agents safe and get a view of an area that you typically wouldn’t have.