Stone County Sheriff's Office uses drone to help keep citizens safe

Published: Sep. 19, 2019 at 4:56 PM CDT
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Deputies can now count on an extra "set of eyes" with technology that simply didn't exist a few decades ago.

The Stone County Sheriff's Department uses its drone to find hidden suspects and missing people.

"The drone can actually do the work of dozens of people just because it can provide a different view," Captain Karl Wagner said.

Captain Wagner considers the Stone County Sheriff Department's drone invaluable, especially in situations that could be matters of life or death. Sheriff Doug Rader agrees, the drone helps them keep people safe.

"If we have any kind of manhunt where we have a suspect that's maybe dangerous," Sheriff Rader said.

They used the drone earlier this month during the search for an armed and dangerous man on the Stone and Christian County line.

"We put the drone up that evening to search the areas that the helicopter hadn't searched," Sheriff Rader said.

However, not only does the department use the drone to keep citizens safe, but also officers when they're out on the job.

"By process of elimination, I just made sure there was nobody in that area," Captain Wagner said.

He's referring to a situation back in March when he used the drone to secure a wooded area, where a man was shooting at deputies.

"It was still dark, early in the morning hours, we did not know where he was at. Put the drone up so we could make sure he wasn't in the weeds trying to shoot at us," Sheriff Rader said.

Captain Wagner explains the drone has two cameras. The thermal camera detects heat, helping to spot people in the dark. The high-definition camera can show vivid details from above.

"We don't usually go over 200 feet," Captain Wagner said.

Sheriff Rader says they use the drone every two to three months or so.

"If we have a missing child, somebody with dementia that's walked away, we can use it to locate them. Just all kinds of different applications," Sheriff Rader said.

He says it's just one more way they work to keep the county safe.

"This is a great tool that we have," Sheriff Rader said.

Currently, Captain Wagner is the only drone pilot in the department, but they do plan to train two more people by the end of this month.