Saturday, 23 February 2019

Inspire 1 drone donated to sheriff’s office

Henderson County sheriff’s officials will use a drone after it was donated to the department.

“This drone will make our team more effective,” Sheriff Botie Hillhouse said in a press release. “We’ve already seen where the mere presence of the vehicle helped drive a wanted man to arresting deputies. And we know that these aircraft give hope to people lost in rough, overgrown terrain.”

The Inspire 1 drone was donated by Henderson County Crime Stoppers. It is equipped with a camera system for video and still photography, and it has zoom and thermal capabilities so the pilot can see up-close and at night, the press release shows. Deputy Kyle Pochobradsky has been trained by the Federal Aviation Administration and licensed to pilot the drone.

“This weapon in his arsenal will be deployed during manhunts, cases of kidnapped or missing children, missing elderly, active-shooter sites and post-crime scene analysis,” Hillhouse said.

The drone has GPS tracking, can reach speeds of 49 miles per hour, weighs just under seven pounds and comes with an iPad monitor and necessary back-up batteries for longer flight times. Equipment and training cost $15,000.

“Best known for deployment by police in major metropolitan areas and by the military, drones are now making their way to rural venues when forward-thinking leaders are willing to embrace this new technology,” Hillhouse said.

Pochobradsky, a 13-year veteran of the sheriff’s office, attended a seminar during which flying techniques and rules and regulations were taught. The FAA requires that drone pilots attend training sessions every two years for recertification.

“First, you don’t want to crash the vehicle, and second, you must respect and follow the rules,” he said. “Citizen privacy is critical. Height, distance, speed and visual contact are the guidelines we have to follow to make this tool work best.”

Hillhouse said that use of police and law enforcement drones across the country has spiked in recent years  — growing more than 500 percent.

“I know the drone will become a vital tool in our operation,” he said. “An eye-in-the-sky will allow our men and women on the front lines to respond more quickly to any challenge or crisis the people of this County face or find themselves in.”


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