Sheriff Botie Hillhouse has added a high-tech drone with the latest law enforcement tools and a trained, licensed pilot to his operation.
This weapon in his arsenal will be deployed during manhunts, cases of kidnapped or missing children, missing elderly, active shooter sites, and post-crime scene analysis, the Henderson County Sheriff said.
“This drone will make our team more effective,” he said. “We’ve already seen where the mere presence of the vehicle helped drive a wanted man to arresting deputies, and we know that these aircraft give hope to people lost in rough, overgrown terrain.”
The Inspire 1 drone is equipped with a complete camera system for both video and still photography, and it has zoom and thermal capabilities so the pilot can see up close and at night.
It has GPS tracking, can reach speeds of 49 miles per hour, weighs just under seven pounds and comes with an iPad monitor and necessary back-up batteries for longer flight times.
Hillhouse thanked the Henderson County Crime Stoppers for buying and donating the $15,000 worth of equipment and training.
He also said the County Commissioner’s Court was instrumental in approving and backing the program.
“Best known for deployment by police in major metropolitan areas and by the military, drones are now making their way to rural venues when forward-thinking leaders are willing to embrace this new technology,” Hillhouse said.
Deputy Kyle Pochobradsky is the Federal Aviation Administration trained and licensed drone pilot.
The 13-year veteran of the Sheriff’s Office attended the out-of-town seminar where flying techniques and rules and regulations were taught. The FAA requires that drone pilots attend training sessions every two years for recertification.
“First, you don’t want to crash the vehicle, and second, you must respect and follow the rules,” he said. “Citizen privacy is critical. Height, distance, speed and visual contact are the guidelines we have to follow to make this tool work best.”
The Deputy said Sheriff Hillhouse assigned the drone to him.
Hillhouse said use of police and law enforcement drones across the country has spiked in recent years – growing more than 500 percent – with Sheriffs Offices leading the way.
“I know the drone will become a vital tool in our operation,” he said. “An eye-in-the-sky will allow our men and women on the front lines to respond more quickly to any challenge or crisis the people of this County face or find themselves in.”