Abilene police are seeking permission from the Federal Aviation Administration to operate a small “unmanned aerial vehicle” – commonly referred to as a drone.
If approved, Sgt. Lynn Beard said the drone will be used for such things as missing person investigations, outdoor crime scene photography, fatal accidents, SWAT situations, and bomb calls.
It also will be used, if authorization is granted, when police assist the Abilene Fire Department in “wildland fire reconnaissance” and Hazmat situations and the Abilene Lake Patrol in “water recoveries.”
“We expect this tool to enhance the safety of first responders across a multitude of incidents,” Beard said Friday.
Beard said a Certification of Authorization is required to fly the small Abilene Police Department-requested drone.
In addition, Beard said operators of the drone must possess a pilot’s license, noting Abilene police have two officers who currently are licensed pilots.
With approval, plans are to use the DJI Phantom III, which weighs 2.5 pounds and is capable of going 35 mph and running for 20 minutes on a single charge, Beard said.
“It is not capable of long-term flight,” Beard said, noting Abilene police do not plan on operating it at an altitude higher than 400 feet.