Milton Police Department Enhances Search and Rescue Efforts with New Drones

Estimated read time 4 min read

In a significant technological upgrade, the Milton Police Department has recently bolstered its operational capabilities by adding two advanced drones to its ranks. These additions mark the inception of the department’s dedicated drone Search and Rescue unit, a move aimed at enhancing response times and efficiency in critical situations, reports WCAX. Launched in November, the initiative has already proven its worth, with three successful missions under its belt in Vermont.

A Vision for the Future: The Drone Search and Rescue Unit

Since its inception in November, the drone unit has swiftly proven its value, completing three successful missions that highlight the critical role of unmanned aerial systems (UAS) in modern policing.

The acquisition of these drones, which together cost over eight thousand dollars, was made possible through funding provided by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). This investment reflects a growing recognition of the importance of incorporating modern technology into law enforcement practices, especially in the face of escalating violence in Vermont’s rural communities.

Corporal Christopher Grenier, a spokesperson for the Milton Police Department, highlighted the transformative potential of drones in police work.

“We have had a lot of incidents over the years that I have been here. Where a drone would have been helpful. Not only for keeping us safe but for especially missing people,” Grenier noted.

His comments underscore the dual benefits of drones: enhancing officer safety and improving outcomes in searches for missing individuals.

Success in the Field: A Lifesaving Mission with Drones

The unit’s first-ever deployment offered a dramatic proof of concept when an intoxicated individual, lost and facing danger in the woods, was swiftly located by a drone piloted by Grenier. The situation, fraught with risk for both the individual and responding officers, was quickly defused thanks to the drone’s capabilities.

“With the drone, I was able to locate the individual within a minute,” Grenier reportedly recounted, highlighting the efficiency and safety drones bring to complex rescue operations.

Rigorous Drone Training and Legal Compliance

Grenier, currently the department’s only Part 107 certified drone pilot, underwent months of study to pass the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) certification, a testament to the seriousness with which MPD approaches this technology. The department adheres strictly to Vermont statutes and FAA regulations, ensuring that drone use is not only effective but also respects citizens’ rights and privacy.

The Drones: DJI Mavic 3 Thermal and DJI Avata

The MPD’s drone fleet, consisting of a DJI Mavic 3 Thermal and DJI Avata, offers sophisticated tools for both outdoor and indoor search and rescue missions. Equipped with thermal cameras and capable of speeds up to 40 mph, these drones extend the reach of law enforcement into areas previously inaccessible or dangerous for human responders.

Milton Police Department Enhances Search And Rescue Efforts With New Drones 2
Milton Police acquired a DJI Mavic 3T and a DJI Avata.

Funding and Future Goals

The program’s funding, sourced from Federal Asset Forfeiture funds allocated by the DEA, highlights the collaborative effort to equip law enforcement with cutting-edge tools without burdening local finances. Grenier sees the drone program as part of MPD’s ongoing commitment to adopting technology that enhances public safety, including previous initiatives like tasers and body cameras.

A Community Resource

The Milton Police Department’s drone unit is not just an asset for the town but a resource for the wider community. With a focus on safety, legality, and effectiveness, the program is set to become a cornerstone of the department’s response capabilities, offering a model for others to follow.

“We want to make sure that this program is done right and safely, and that it’s provided for citizens not only in our town but our wider community too,” Grenier stated, underscoring the department’s vision of service and innovation.

Photos courtesy of the Milton Police Department.

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