Sky is the limit for ECSO drone program

The program got off the ground earlier this year & has already exceeded expectations

Sky is the limit for ECSO drone program

EFFINGHAM COUNTY, Ga. (WTOC) - Earlier this year the Effingham County Sheriff’s Office added a new tool to their arsenal.

Although the new program is still just getting off the ground, the sky is the limit.

“Late March we got the drones in and we started,” said the drone program manager Sgt. Bryan Shearouse.

In just a few months time the drone program at the Effingham County Sheriff’s Office has really taken off.

“Since we officially started we’ve actually flown approximately 30 official missions,” said Sgt. Shearouse.

Admittedly when Sheriff Jimmy McDuffie first began the program he never imagined it’d become what it now has.

“We thought we’d be able to use it every now and then for different situations, maybe crowd control, parades, that kind of stuff. But the magnitude of what we’ve been able to use it for has been really mind boggling.”

The drones are fitted with the latest technology. From built in speakers to an infrared camera. Tools they put to use most recently while searching the home of a barricaded subject.

“We were actually able to go in and check approximately, I believe it was, 85 or 90 percent of a home before we ever had to send a warm body in the home,” said Sgt. Shearouse.

Of course, helping them save money on man power but more importantly.

“That saves a man from having to go in and take that chance,” says Sheriff McDuffie.

It could save a life. As for the future of the program going forward, well, the sky is the limit.

“I believe we’re just on the tip of what we can do with things like this and as the technology gets better and the more creative we’re able to get. There’s no telling home much time, how much life, how much property that the use of tools, such as drones, will actually be able to help out,” Sgt. Shearouse says.

Right now the Sgt. Shearouse is the only drone pilot at the Sheriff’s Office but they are in the process of getting three or four more pilots certified.

As for the drones themselves they weren’t cheap but the Sheriff says they were able to pay for them without using any tax payer dollars.

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