Charleston police will begin using drone at scenes for aerial perspective

Updated: Oct. 8, 2019 at 10:46 AM EDT
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - The Charleston police department will begin using a drone to help officers gain a birdseye perspective at crime scenes and in other operations when it might be useful.

The tool was recently used to find a possible suicidal person in the marsh near the Stono Bridge, which was closed during the search.

Police say the drone and its support system cost $10,617.95. Similar to dashcam footage, the public and media outlets will need to file a Freedom of Information Act request in order to see the footage from the drone.

“The person was located within minutes of the drone being launched, which greatly lessened the time the bridge needed to be closed,” police spokesman Charles Francis said.

The drone will also be used in response to disasters, HAZMAT situations, as well as serious traffic issues and special events. The department bought the drone, which can take photos as well as take video, in 2017.

Drone pilots in the department are required to have FAA-issued remote pilot certificates before buying the drone. According to Francis, several members of the department are licensed plane and helicopter pilots.

“Drones offer important data to decision-makers while decreasing the risk to human life,” Charleston Police Chief Luther Reynolds said. “It’s a tool that will help us better serve the citizens of Charleston as we continue to work to keep the community safe."

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