GREER (WSPA) – Sergeant Randle Ballenger has been with the Greer Police Department for more than a quarter century, but his career has really taken off.

Ballenger leads the GPD drone team which has several officers who are FAA certified to pilot the small flying machines.

Sgt. Ballenger does most of his work in traffic and often uses drones to reconstruct crash scenes.

“Drones give us a different view to be able to look at some of the collision sites,” according to Ballenger who grew up in Travelers Rest.

However, drones can be an invaluable tool for searches.

“Most people automatically think apprehension of somebody,” Ballenger said. “But the drones give us a lot of aspects. It’s just a tool, but anything from missing children to missing people. The drones allow us to get out and cover a large swath of land pretty quick.”

Ballenger has another rank to go along with his status at GPD. He’s a Sgt. Major in the South Carolina National Guard. He oversees a transportation battalion with nearly 700 soldiers across South Carolina under his command.

He served in the U.S. Army before joining the Greer Police Department.

Ballenger has been an instrumental part of Greer Freedom Blast over the years. His South Carolina National Guard connections allowed him to bring military vehicles to display during the annual Independence Day celebration.

He was honored by the City of Greer during the 2022 festival to thank Ballenger for his contributions.

Sgt. Ballenger’s flying days do come with an expiration date.

He plans to retire from the Greer Police Department on January 5, 2023. However, he plans to remain with the South Carolina National Guard.