By Shawn Chitnis

LAKEWOOD, Colo. (CBS4) – The Colorado Department of Public Safety said Monday it will be scaling back operations of its investigations into suspicious drone activity in northeastern Colorado. The reports dating back to late November and the field work taking place in early January has yet to identify any criminal activity.

(credit: CBS)

“The public has been worried about the reports of strange drone activity,” said CDPS Executive Director Stan Hilkey in a news release. “Our duty is to be responsive to community concerns and to investigate suspicious activity, and so we mobilized our teams to look into this.”

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Field investigations on Jan. 10 – 12 continued the work first started on Jan. 6 both on the ground and in the air with the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management as well as the Division of Fire Prevention and Control.

(credit: Dept. of Public Safety)

A multi-mission aircraft (MMA) used for fighting wildfires helped investigators look for any suspicious drones. Public reports of unusually large-sized drones flying in groups began on Nov. 23. The field work increased on Jan. 10 after a report of a drone flying close to a Flight for Life helicopter, but investigators determined that was not related to the incidents in northeastern Colorado.

CBS4 was there on Saturday when the Colorado State Patrol assisted with its own drone flying above and south of its substation near Fort Morgan and Interstate 76. A team also compared drone reports received with available flight pattern data.

(credit: CBS)

“Despite all of the reported activity, we are still unaware of any crime being committed,” Hilkey went on to say in the release. “While I can’t conclusively say we have solved the mystery, we have been able to rule out a lot of the activity that was causing concern.”

Since the Colorado Information Analysis Center started collecting data on drone reports, there have been 90 incidents. Hobbyists using drones that were not large enough to fit the description of reports made up for 14 cases.

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There were also multiple sightings determined to be planets or stars as well as commercial aircraft. Some were never identified by law enforcement but none were considered illegal.

“The efforts we have put forth on this issue have been valuable,” Hilkey added. “In addition to gathering information, this past week’s operations have been an excellent opportunity for our teams to collaborate and hone their skills with new and emerging technologies.”

(credit: CBS)

Drones make up a large presence in the air across Colorado, according to the FAA. The number of registered drones in the state is 24,030 and the agency receives more than 100 reports of drone sightings from pilots each month. CDPS says it will scale back proactive operations but will respond as needed for future reports of suspicious activity.

“We will continue to remain vigilant and respond as new information comes in,” he said.

Submit suspicious activity report to the CIAC: https://ciacco.org/default.aspx?menuitemid=1095

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FAA Records:  https://www.faa.gov/foia/electronic_reading_room/

Shawn Chitnis