Create a Website Account - Manage notification subscriptions, save form progress and more.
In late May, the Haines City Police Department’s unmanned aerial vehicle, better known as a drone, initiative officially got underway.
The program will be headed by Sgt. Chad Smith. Smith spent 40 hours of training, earning his certification from the Federal Aviation Administration to man the drone. The agency is looking to expand the program to add users and be able to have around-the-clock access.
“I’m excited for the opportunity to get this initiative off the ground,” Smith said. “I think we’re going to be able to do a lot of good with this and help keep our residents and officers safe.”
The acquired DJI Mavic 2 Dual Pro Enterprise features cutting-edge drone technology, including a thermal sensor, a spotlight to enhance vision in low-light areas, infrared technology, GPS timestamping and a 4K camera. It also has a public address system which could be used for crisis intervention.
Drones are becoming more common in law enforcement and can serve as a cost-effective alternative to a helicopter. They are commonly used to locate missing people or children, suspects or to assess an area to ensure that it is safe for officers to enter.
Unlike helicopters, the drone can handle more adverse weather conditions. The drone can be used indoors or outdoors, during the day or in the evenings. It can be flown up to 400 feet in the air and gives the operator a bird’s eye view, surveying hundreds of acres at a time.
In the past, the Polk County Sheriff’s Office has been quick to assist the Haines City Police Department with a drone. Having a drone in-house will allow the agency to streamline investigations, speed up response time and assist any requesting agency as deployment time is critical to success.
“This is another important tool that we can utilize under a number of circumstances as we continue to be a proactive agency,” Chief Jim Elensky said. “Having a drone readily available will help us better serve our residents and perhaps even save lives.”