Brookings police hoping to get eyes in the sky

KELOLAND.com Original

BROOKINGS, S.D. (KELO)– When looking for a missing person or entering a dangerous situation, there is one thing that would help the Brookings Police Department: a drone.

“A drone has so many different functions that apply to public safety,” David Erickson, Brookings Chief of Police said. “The safety of our community and the safety of our officers are always at the forefront of what we are looking to do.”

The drone would offer the department more capabilities when it comes to search and rescue situations, inquiring suspects who are on the run and the type drone that they are looking can be used as a tool when making entry into a dangerous situation or dealing with a barricaded suspect without putting the officer face-to-face with a suspect in a volatile situation.

Erickson compared the drone to the tactical robots that SWAT teams use, as a new version of that.

It can have a camera on it for looking infrared, it can have a device on it to break a window, it has the ability to reboot itself and take off after crashing, it can carry a payload, and has two-way communication capability.

“We want to always maintain the highest degree of safety for our officers and our community and this tool is something that would allow us to do that,” Erickson said.

This is a tool that wouldn’t be used every day, or even every week.

“But if a drone can help us locate a lost child once, it pays for itself there in my mind,” Erickson said.

The cost for this new tool will be $30,000 for the drone, training for officers, extra batteries and the attachments.

The Brookings Police Department Foundation is the organization raising money for the drone.

Jeff West, vice president of the foundation, said they took on the mission of the drone project this year because they knew it would fall outside of the city budget.

“We knew from a public safety aspect, there is a number of situations that have happened in the last year where a drone may have made a difference in somebody living or not,” West said.

The drone would also be shared with other agencies throughout the county, West said.

The foundation is taking donations for the drone through Friends of the Foundation. They are also doing fundraising effects, including a gun raffle and they will have booths set up at the farmer’s market during Brookings Police Week, which is August 2-7, as well as a booth at Downtown at Sundown and a Back to Blue Rally that will be a precession through town.

They are almost out of tickets for their gun raffle, West said. They had 200 tickets, which were sold for $10.

So far, the foundation has raised $4,500, after the ticket sales, West said.

West is hoping that corporations or individuals from Brookings come together, see the need and help with this project.

They are hoping to have the drone project fully funded by the end of the year.

People can contribute to the project by contacting the foundation through the Brookings Police Department or through the foundation’s Facebook page.

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