Eye in the Sky: ICSO preparing to utilize new $34,000 drone
BY KARISSA MILLER
Iredell County Sheriff’s Office deputies will soon have another tool to use when investigating crime, assisting in search-and-rescue operations and evaluating public safety concerns.
Iredell County commissioners on Tuesday approved Sheriff Darren Campbell’s request to use $34,000 in federal funds to purchase an Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) with thermal imaging technology.
The UAS, better known as a drone, is a flying quadrocopter that can be modified to livestream videos and photos while in flight to officers on the ground. Two ISCO personnel will obtain a pilot certificate authorization to fly and operate the drone in the coming weeks.
“It’s unbelievable what you can do,” Campbell told commissioners during a presentation during Tuesday’s pre-agenda meeting. “At over 2,000 feet, you can read the denomination of a coin.”
The sheriff outlined numerous scenarios in which the drone could benefit the ICSO:
• Search and rescue missions: The drone could be flown into areas that are not easily accessible by ground by first-responders to determine if someone is injured.
• Large crowds: The UAS can quickly provide a bird’s eye view of an area heavily crowded by boats and people, such as Lake Norman, to help deputies assess a situation and determine what resources are needed.
• Video documentation: The drone could be used for documenting chases, active-shooter situations, and Special Response Team operations.
• Narcotics investigations: The drone also has the potential to save the ICSO money in narcotics investigations, which sometimes require the use of aerial footage. In the past, aircraft have been chartered to provide this service. The drone would provide better footage and be more covert, Campbell said.
The UAS has a range of five miles and 30 minutes of flight time, according to the sheriff.
In Other Business
Also, during the March 7 meeting, commissioners:
• Approved a request from ICSO for a patrol K-9 replacement for $11,800. The cost will include the handler’s training and come out of federal equity funds.
• Approved request from the Iredell County Public Library to apply for an Edge grant of $7,990 for acquiring 23 Lenovo tablets for public use. If awarded, it would increase the library’s device hours per guest and will not require library or the county to match funds.
• Approved a request from Human Resources to hire an assistant human resources director in the amount of $24,313. This will help with the department workflow as well as expand the county’s human resource department functions, according to HR director Sandra Gregory.
• Approved a request from Animal Services for $12,948 to hire a new kennel technician to meet a growing demand for service.
• Approved a request from Emergency Management to apply for a Hazardous Materials Preparedness Grant that will allow local partners to test the region’s response capabilities “to a large scale hazardous materials incident.” If approved, Emergency Management will contract with a firm that specializes in exercise development and implementation. The costs associated with the contractor will be covered by grant funds and at no cost to the county.
• Approved a request from Planning and Development to adopt a resolution of intent regarding the closure of an unnamed road and public dedicated road right of way. The road is located off Campanile Drive in Mooresville. Commissioners announced a public hearing to be held at the April 3 meeting.
• Announced a public hearing on March 20 at 7 p.m. for an economic development incentive known as Project Control for up to $958,000 over a 10-year period based on an investment of up to $28,960,200 in Iredell County.
County Manager’s Report
Interim County Manager Beth Jones announced that the county will be gearing up for a statewide hurricane exercise April 3-4. The two-day event will be from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The next commissioners’ meeting is Tuesday, March 20, at Iredell County Government Center, 200 South Center Street, Statesville. The pre-agenda session begins at 5 p.m. in the south wing conference room and the regular meeting begins at 7 p.m. in the commissioners meeting room. Both meetings are open to the public.