New unmanned aerial vehicle joins the Williamson County Sheriff’s Department

WILLIAMSON COUNTY, Ill. (KBSI) – The Williamson County Sheriff’s Department welcomed its newest first responder… an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV).

The new UAV is a DJI Mavic Pro 2, which has a range of one mile and flies around two hours with multiple batteries.

The drone was designed specifically for law enforcement.

“It has a speaker on it. It has lights. The thermal imaging is going to help us with that because where before you were just looking at it with your naked eye now, you’re looking at through thermal imaging so that person is going to literally glow in the middle of the field,” explained Lt. Robert Owsley with the Williamson County Sheriff’s Department.

The new thermal imaging can detect a person’s heat signature even at night.

The sheriff’s department reminds people that this drone is under the Illinois Freedom from Drone Surveillance Act which means that this aerial vehicle can only be used with a warrant.

“Deputies have to take a specific class for it before they’re able to do it,” continued Lt. Owsley. “One, the classroom covers part 107, which is the FAA certification in order to fly a drone. The other is, we will go over a lot of our laws. We have a policy procedure that covers as many scenarios as possible.”

The drone can be used for much more than law enforcement, but community help as well.

“The capability to locate someone and communicate in the field under adverse situation will be an asset when minutes count and lives are on the line,” said Williamson County Sheriff Bennie Vick.

“Lost people, you know, we have several elderlies in our community. They take… they wonder off sometimes. This way we’re calling all the fire departments, so we’re searching for hours,” continued Lt. Owsley.

The drone will be in service within the next couple months.

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