Money seized from crimes they’ve investigated went toward buying a $23,000 unmanned aerial system for the Lancaster County Sheriff’s Office back in September 2018.
When you look at the picture, you would likely call it a drone. But Sheriff Terry Wagner calls it an unmanned aerial system, which is controlled like a drone, but it has more technical specifications.
“The camera has got a forward-looking infrared radar on it,” Sheriff Wagner told reporters on Friday morning during a demonstration at the Justice and Law Enforcement Center.
It’s come in handy for three missions already, including the search for a 12-year-old girl who ran away from her home near Bennet a couple of weeks ago.
Wagner says the Federal Aviation Administration has an entire chapter on unmanned aerial systems and there are restrictions.
“Pilot has to be a pilot that’s trained in the use of an unmanned aerial system. It can’t fly any higher than 400 feet about ground level,” he said. Other limitations include it can’t fly at night, over populated areas and in the flight path of aircraft.
However, there are exceptions depending on the circumstances of the mission at the time.
“We have to get waivers for some of those restrictions, if we’re going to use the unmanned aerial system,” Wagner said.
If a search warrant is served at a house, Wagner says they could deploy the system and take a look at the whole property to see what, if any hazards, are around that could affect investigators.