Mandan police say using drones helps department in search and rescues

Published: Aug. 30, 2022 at 3:07 PM CDT
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MANDAN, N.D. (KFYR) - Officers with the Mandan Police Department have been training, and testing, to become drone operators for the department after they acquired two drones this spring. They say the technology will help the department keep the public safe.

“We’re pretty maneuverable. So, we can go up pretty much anywhere,” said Officer Jonathan Henry, drone operator and patrolman for Mandan Police Department.

Officer Henry is one of the operators of the drones that give the department an eye in the sky.

The technology can mean the difference between life and death. The department’s used drones successfully in search and rescue scenarios.

“We would never have been able to find that person if it hadn’t been up in the air,” said Officer Henry.

The department’s two drones are outfitted with thermal cameras. One has a floodlight and loudspeaker. They can operate during any season.

“You know, we got a building here. We have trees over here, tall grass, whatever it be. With this we can look over, our max height would be 400 feet, and looking down from 400 feet with a fairly large expensive camera, very good quality. Really shortens that search,” said Officer Henry.

They’re able to operate over most parts of Mandan and need permission to operate in other areas of the state. The devices cost about $9,000, mainly for the camera, but operators say they’re worth it.

“To be able to find [someone], you can’t really put a price tag on that. To find somebody safe versus having to wait days,” said Officer Henry.

The first drone was donated to the department. The second drone was funded mostly by donations with the remainder funded by the department’s asset forfeiture fund.