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Lancaster County, Lincoln invest $90K in drones

October 1, 2018

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Lancaster County and Lincoln agencies will soon have invested more than $90,000 in drones to help law enforcement and firefighting operations.

County and city officials believe the cost of the six is already proving to be worthwhile, the Lincoln Journal-Star reported.

The Lancaster County Sheriff’s Office used its new $22,000 drone last week to search a cornfield for a runaway student from a nearby school. Deputies ended up spotting the girl without the drone’s help, but the incident was exactly the type of operation where an unmanned aerial system would be useful, said Sheriff Terry Wagner.

The office paid for the drone with forfeiture funds, Wagner said.

Lincoln’s police and fire and rescue departments each have two drones, while the city’s parks and recreation department and the Lancaster County Sheriff’s Office each have one.

“I think there is a great potential for these (drones) to help us,” said Tom Casady, Lincoln’s public safety director who oversees both police and fire departments.

Lincoln police have used a drone in a death investigation, the search of discarded property in a homicide investigation, a missing person search and assisting in a fire.

“Both (city police and fire and rescue) need a drone,” Casaday said. “They may need them at the same time and on short notice.”

Lincoln Fire and Rescue’s two drones totaling more than $29,000 have thermal imaging that can see through smoke, said Batallion Chief Eric Jones.

The drones can also carry small items, such as a life vest or rope, to help in rescue efforts, according to Jones.

The city’s Park and Recreation Department uses its more than $17,000 drone for photographing vegetation to help in developing land management plans. The agency also uses it to document the condition of glass panels on Ascent, the sculpture in Tower Square.


Information from: Lincoln Journal Star, http://www.journalstar.com