City of Richmond Hill invests in drone for public safety purposes

City of Richmond Hill invests in drone for public safety purposes
Updated: May. 19, 2017 at 5:58 PM EDT
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RICHMOND HILL, GA (WTOC) - The city of Richmond Hill recently purchased a drone with a hefty price tag of $21,000.

City leaders tell us it will be used for all kinds of public safety purposes. They say they did their research and they have three designated drone operators who are in the process of getting everything licensed through the FAA. Mayor Harold Fowler says it's a forward thinking move.

"We are trying to meet the needs as we go into the future. I know the cost has been brought up, and it's costly," Mayor Fowler said.

The city of Richmond Hill feels that the new drone will help with many things. We sat down with the police chief, who says the drone should arrive in about two weeks. Police would use it for search and rescue as well as to help track down missing children, among other things.

"Perhaps, and Alzheimer's patients or something like that. The capabilities of this drone would be exceptionally useful in the daytime or nighttime," said Chief Raymond Shores, Richmond Hill Police Department.

One of the most important features the drone will have is thermal imaging - sensing heat down below. It's a DJI Matrice 210. First responders also plan to use it along the interstate if there is a spill, as the zoom lens would be used to identify what's inside of a tanker from a distance.

"So, we would know what chemical is inside the tanker if we had a spill on the interstate, then we could obviously forward that information to the fire department and they could know how to respond," said Chief Shores.

The chief calls the drone 'extremely advantageous,' and the mayor wants the city to be technology savvy.

"As we continue to grow, there will be more and more demand, and as I said, planning and zoning can use it as we go into new developments," said Mayor Fowler.

We're told that once the drone gets here, training will begin.

Some residents say $21,000 is too much for a drone and others tell me they understand the investment.

"It sounds like a pretty good investment as far as safety and security, especially if it helps out with law enforcement and fire rescue. $21,000 doesn't seem like a whole lot of money of you look at all the aspects of it, like thermal imaging and the ability to quickly track things," said Richmond Hill resident Taran Myrick.

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