- Associated Press - Saturday, April 25, 2015

VIDALIA, La. (AP) - The Vidalia police are joining the growing number of police departments across the nation to use drones.

The Democrat reports (https://bit.ly/1z0BFyx ) that the police department has purchased two drones.

The police plan to use the drones in a variety of ways, such as chasing suspects.

The drones, which emit a buzzing sound, are smaller than 2 feet in diameter and are equipped with a highdefinition camera.

Sgt. Clint Robinson said the department bought two of the drones. He says the machines haven’t been used yet while training continues.



“Imagine you’ve got someone who runs from a stop, you know they have previous felonies and have shot someone in the past,” Robinson said. “Would you rather send a bunch of officers into the woods after them, or would you rather send in a flying robot?”

He said the drones can be used in a variety in other scenarios too, such as to investigate a toxic spill.

The drones cost about $1,200 each.

Directed by wifi signal from a base controller, the drones’ video streams through an app on Robinson’s smartphone, which he mounts on top of the handheld controller.

Robinson, who worked with helicopters in the military, said he prefers to fly the drone by sight rather than using the screen. To do that, he watches the LED lighting on the bottom of the drone’s four arms, red lights indicating the forward end of the aircraft.

When it isn’t under manual control, the drone can be programmed to fly to 16 points at up to 200 feet in altitude using a global positioning system (GPS), which Robinson said can be useful for surveillance. It can reach speeds of up to 40 miles per hour, but can also hover over one point, returning to where it was told to be if a wind gust pushes the drone away.

The drones have some limits. If it flies above 200 feet or enters airspace restricted by the Federal Aviation Administration, the drone model has a fail-safe feature that makes it return to its point of takeoff. The battery packs the VPD purchased with the drones - two for each - last about 25 minutes, and at 5 percent battery life the fail safe makes it return to base.

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Information from: Natchez Democrat, https://www.natchezdemocrat.com/

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