Newton KS Police Department release the following statement via facebook on March 26th.
The Harvey County Emergency Response Team is pleased to announce the implementation of one of the first Unmanned Aerial Systems programs in region.
This technology provides expanded and unique capabilities to a wide range of Emergency Services, better enabling them to provide assistance in a safe and efficient manner. Imagine the following:
• Being able to use a thermal imager to search an entire field for a missing child, or locating victims after a tornado in mere minutes
• Finding an armed suspect and implementing a plan to safely apprehend him without risking lives
• Viewing the totality of a large grass fire in real time, and directing resources more efficiently
• Documenting the scene of a fatality accident from an overhead perspective.
This new program meets all of these objectives and more.
We would like the people we serve to know we are aware of privacy concerns and have drafted a strict policy governing the use of these aircraft. The aircraft will not be used for routine patrol activities. Pursuant to our policy, we can only operate these aircraft for training purposes, or pursuant to a search warrant or exigent circumstance (emergency situations). When we operate the aircraft we will do our best to be transparent and notify the public via social media. Any images recorded which are not of evidentiary value, or of legitimate training value will be deleted within 24 hours to protect your family’s privacy. We will be scheduling several information and demonstration events to answer any questions and receive feedback to better develop the program.
This week saw the culmination of this 7-month project, and we now have 6 certified UAV pilots selected from the Newton Police Department and Harvey County Sheriff’s Office. The pilots practiced using a thermal imager to locate a missing person, flew close to train cars after a simulated derailment in order to identify potential hazardous materials, and inspected a car with suspicious devices inside.