Fredericksburg Police, Fire Departments Getting New Eyes In The Skies
Fredericksburg.com released a new report on the newest ‘recruits’ for both the Fredericksburg police and fire departments. These ‘recruits’ being bright orange, 3.5 pound drones capable of flying for up to 25 minutes without recharging their batteries.
More importantly, the two Autel X-Star Premium small unmanned aircraft systems, or sUAS as drones are officially known, are a less expensive alternative to airplanes for providing “eyes in the skies.”
Armed with still and video cameras, they’re expected to be a useful tool in everything from child abduction cases and the apprehension of violent criminals to assessing traffic accidents and the water level on the Rappahannock River.
They’ve already been used to get an overhead picture of Celebrate Virginia After Hours concert venue at 5030 Gordon W. Shelton Blvd. for planning purposes, and to help locate a missing person who was found on the Virginia Central Railway Trail near Idlewild.
“A drone allows you to cover a larger area than a search crew,” said Michael Jones, Fredericksburg’s deputy fire chief. “It’s already proven its worth.”
Drones are no longer seen as a novelty by law enforcement and public safety departments, according to the Center for the Study of the Drone at Bard College published in April. Its research has found that at least 347 state and local police, sheriff, fire and emergency units across the country have acquired drones in the past several years.
More acquisitions took place in 2016 than in the previous years combined.
In Virginia alone, Fredericksburg is the 11th locality to invest in sUAS for police and fire and rescue efforts — and the third in the region. Continue reading about the departments in Fredericksburg using drones.