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Hamilton Co. Sheriff's Office to start using drones soon

“This new aerial technology will allow the HCSO to better serve our community in times of emergency and will help ensure that our local law enforcement and emergency personnel are better protected when entering situations that may be dangerous or life threatening,” said Sheriff Jim Hammond. NOTE: This is a picture of a drone, but not necessarily the drone the HCSO will use. (Cropped Photo: Dkroetsch @ Wikimedia Commons)

Next week, the Hamilton County Sheriff's Office (HCSO) will unveil a new program that puts eyes in the skies - in the form of drones, officially known as Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS).

HCSO spokesman Matt Lea says the program is an "ongoing effort to utilize technology to be more efficient with taxpayer money."

Lea continues, "UAS have the capability to gather and record information much more efficiently and thoroughly than any person. The ultimate goal is to use the small UAS for critical life-saving efforts, such as locating missing persons and monitoring incidents where a hazardous condition exists. The UAS can also be used to take aerial photos of crime scenes, fire scenes, and traffic accidents, providing a perspective that could be invaluable to investigators."

The HCSO plans to unveil the new system on Monday morning at Hamilton County Riverpark.

“This new aerial technology will allow the HCSO to better serve our community in times of emergency and will help ensure that our local law enforcement and emergency personnel are better protected when entering situations that may be dangerous or life threatening,” said Sheriff Jim Hammond.

Lea says the use of UAS in law enforcement is a growing trend nationwide. More than 80 law enforcement agencies, colleges and other government agencies across the nation have been granted or applied for permits to fly UAS, according to FAA records.

Lea says the HCSO began the process for FAA qualification in December of 2014. Since then, hundreds of hours of training and flight time (over 160 training missions) have been spent to obtain an FAA Certificate of Waiver (COA).

Depend on NewsChannel 9 to have more on this story this coming Monday.

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