Two drone pilots from the Fort Wayne Police Department on Thursday showed off a pair of drones the department is putting into service.
In a demonstration at the city's Public Safety Academy, 7602 Patriot Crossing, Officer Mike Hickman quickly demonstrated a drone's swift climb, unwavering hover and straight-line speed. The small “Typhoon H-Pro with Real Sense” unmanned aircraft flew up to 20-25 miles per hour. Hickman, who also has been a pilot of manned aircraft for 10 years, said police aren't interested in drones going much faster.
Police said the drones would be used only when authorized by search warrants, except in certain “exigent circumstances,” including:
* An emergency, such as an active shooter, a person barricaded inside a building or a missing child or person with dementia.
* Natural disaster response.
* Environmental, geographical or other survey needs not related to law enforcement.
* Aerial video or photos of a motor-vehicle wreck site on a public street or highway.
Fort Wayne Police Chief Steve Reed said that the drones, control consoles and software cost less than $10,000 in all, and soon their capability would be expanded to include night vision.
The chief emphasized that the drones will be available to provide aid to other area law-enforcement departments, too.
The department intends to train four officers so that they are certified in the use of the drones. They will operate in two-officer teams and be on call for launching and piloting a drone at any time.
Why would officers want to become drone pilots?
“No. 1, it's awesome!” said Hickman. “You go to work and fly.”