GREENVILLE CO., (WSPA) – With the purchase of new cutting-edge technology, the Greenville County Sheriff’s Office said it is now able to better serve the community.

$10,500 was donated to the sheriff’s office through the fundraising efforts of several local Walmarts. 

Through their donations and with the help of the sheriff’s office foundation, three state-of-the-art thermal imaging drones were purchased.

“Thermal imaging gives us a thermal palette that we can work off of when searching for missing persons or wanted subjects,” Ryan Reid, Master Deputy assigned to the Technical Services Unit of the Grenville County Sheriff’s Office said.

The sheriff’s office began using drones in 2018. 

When Reid began his career in law enforcement in 2008, he said he never would have believed the technology that the patrol drone program at the sheriffs office would now have access to. 

“It is the latest technology in thermal imaging so it definitely allows us to do our jobs more effective, more efficient and a lot safer,” Reid said.

Reid said the thermal imaging drones aid in their ability to work in the unknown, taking their skills and awareness to the next level.

“Before that we were just using visual drones with no thermal so that made it very difficult when you are dealing with foliage from the trees and different objects that you can’t see in or see around,” Reid said.

With the latest thermal imaging drones the scene being captured can be broadcasted to the whole department.

“You can do split screen, wide view, it has 56x zoom,” Reid said. “There are a lot of capabilities that are compacted into this small drone.”

The sheriff’s office currently has 53 certified operators who have trained more than 80 hours with the department’s 15 total drones.

They said having the skill to work the drones and having access to the best in technology is a game changer.

“It definitely enhances our situational awareness so if we locate a subject or a person, we can kind of slow the scene down and go off that immediate entail that we have based upon the imagining,” Reid said. “Then we can formulate a better plan to have a safer outcome or a more efficient or effective outcome to that situation.”