(FOUNTAIN) – The Fountain Police Department is expanding its drone program it established near the end of 2017.
“It started off as this little golf ball of an idea, but then it exploded into a giant [idea],” commented Eric Moore, a Fountain police officer and organizer of the department’s drone program.
According to Officer Moore, drones are an invaluable tool for law enforcement agencies.
“In a matter of minutes, it gives us the ability to have a bird’s eye view of whatever situation we’re rolling into,” Moore continued.
However, the drones can only give that coveted bird’s eye view once clearance is granted by the Colorado Springs Airport, Butt’s Army Airfield at Fort Carson and once a drone commercial license is obtained. This means red tape and plenty of training.
“Just because we’re a first responding agency, we’re still held to the same regulations and stipulations as any commercial agency.”
After the work is put in and access granted, Fountain PD says the drones provide an invaluable tool, “It will make it safer for our officers, and easier to guide them,” stated officer Galen Steele, a volunteer with the drone program.
The program initially started in October 2017 with the intention of being used for crime scene documentation and vice narcotics, “With a lot of things, when you first sit down and say, ‘hey, this is an idea,’ you’re kind of one track minded. Then as time goes on you realize it can be used for so much more,” said Moore.
The department has since sent drones out on 11 different operations spanning several focuses:
- Vehicular accident scene reconstruction
- Crime scene documentation
- Fire surveillance
- Suspect apprehension
Of those 11 operations, seven were strictly focused on the city of Fountain, while four were collaborations with either CSPD or the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office.
“We’re using it to help solve crimes, we’re using it to document crimes to the best of our abilities and do our jobs the best that we can,” continued Moore.
The program currently consists of three operators and three drones, one of which utilizes thermal imaging technology. However, there are plans to not only introduce a night vision camera into the mix, but increase the operator count by at least another two in years to come.
“So with the expansion of the city itself, as well as the expansion of our unit, the plan is to deploy [these drones] as often as we can.”
Going forward, Fountain PD is working alongside Fountain hazmat as well as train companies to plan out disaster reaction strategies. In addition to those areas, Officer Moore says he plans to push for the drones to be used more often in suspect apprehension.
The department hopes to utilize the drones in more and more operations as not only a cost saving and efficiency measure, but also as a way to keep officers safe.
“Fingers crossed, I’m hoping that we are going to shoot through the roof with the number of operations we’re going to be utilizing these for,” finished Moore.