DOUGLAS COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4) – More drones are showing up at crime scenes in the Denver metro area, and as fire and police agencies begin to use them for training, an agency in Douglas County will try to get in on the trend.
There are a lot of gray areas right now about drone use, along with concerns with liability and privacy issues. But many fire and police agencies in the metro area are beginning to explore how the aircraft can help them do their job better.
“It just gives us an eye in the sky to be able to see the whole incident,” Cpt. Andy Powell with South Metro Fire Rescue Authority said.
Powell is one of two drone pilots for South Metro. They got a drone a year ago, but until the Federal Aviation Administration releases guidelines about flying a drone, South Metro is using it for training only.
The drone can get to places people can’t, according to Powell.
“We can’t get to a lot of areas and so we can put the drone up in the air, we can take a look around and see what crews are doing and see where the fire is at,” he said.
The Douglas County Sheriff’s Department had a drone donated to the department. They hosted a public meeting Thursday night to learn more about drone use. They also wanted public input about the practice.
“We want to develop a policy that we can use it for search and rescue operations, crime scene reconstruction,” Douglas County Undersheriff Holly Nicholson-Kluth said.
Nicholson-Kluth says a drone could be very useful with traffic investigations when it’s difficult to get a good picture of what’s going on. Helicopters are expensive to use, but a drone is very functional.
“From the air we can do that with a drone and get exact measurements,” she said.
South Metro says they only fly their drone 100 feet in the air, never over crowds or in bad weather, but they’re excited about the future.
“The possibilities are endless,” Powell said.