WELLFORD, S.C. (WSPA) – As technology evolves, law enforcement agencies are changing the way they do things as well.
From the ground indoors, to the sky, law enforcement agencies across the state are training their officers to use drones.
“What I can cover in ten minutes, the drone is going to cover just in a matter of seconds. It gives us eyes in the sky,” said Lt. Shandrell Holcombe, Wellford Police Department.
“Now more than ever drones are a huge asset to law enforcement agencies, fire, EMS or emergency management,” Sean Thomas Smith, president of the South Carolina Public Safety Drone Pilot Association.
South Carolina’s Public Safety Drone Pilot Association works directly with law enforcement agencies to teach them how to properly use the technology.
“Our primary mission is to be able to provide the training that this wonderful asset of a drone provides,” said Smith.
On Friday, training lifted off in Wellford.
Once certified, agencies will have the ability to launch drones during search and rescue operations, missing persons, and even tracking down runaway suspects.
“It helps us when we don’t feel safe going into a situation or try to go in there without eyes,” said Officer Danielle Brisco, Wellford Police Department.
It’s a valuable piece of equipment that the Wellford Police Department said will help save lives.
“When you have a call and you have to go into a home, you have to check a house and see what’s inside the house. If you may not necessarily have the man power to cover the entire place,” said Lt. Holcombe. “If you send a drone in and something goes wrong, we can replace that drone. But we cannot replace that person.”
Friday was one of the first drone training sessions that was held at the Wellford Police Department. It is open for surrounding agencies to attend.
According to Lt. Holcombe, it will not be their last.
“When you see an officer out with a drone, we are not trying to invade your privacy because there are FAA rules, there are regulations, there are things that these guys in the classes have to learn to make the environment safer,” said Lt. Holcombe. “Our officers are licensed and our officers are certified to do the best they can to keep the community safe.”
According to the police department, they have already successfully used one of their new drones in a recent search for a missing person, who was later found unharmed.