An Unmanned Aerial System – more commonly known as a drone – has officially been put into service in the Escalon Police Department.
First utilized earlier this month at the city’s Christmas On Main event downtown, officers that had received training in the use of the drone were able to deploy it for an overhead view of the parade and festivities.
Photos and video footage from the event have been posted to the police department’s Facebook page and website. They used the drone at the holiday gathering as a way to practice maneuvering it and using the cameras.
“Detective Hardgraves is heading up the program,” Police Chief Mike Borges said of the department’s UAS effort.
The goal is to give officers another set of ‘eyes’ and it can be deployed for specific uses, though not just for general surveillance work. Borges said it can be used to provide an overview of an area that has been plagued by crime and can also assist officers in getting an overhead look at traffic incidents and the like.
“It actually was purchased with general fund money, we had it in the budget,” Borges said of adding the drone to the department’s repertoire of equipment.
The cost was a little under $10,000 but Borges said the cost was high because of a night vision camera that the department purchased as part of the package.
“We’ve been having some training sessions at night with it,” Borges said.
Along with Hardgraves, officers who previously attended training and are certified in use of the UAS are Elmer Cruz, Frank LeSage, Bart Conner and Rod Small.
The department’s system has been approved for use and Borges said they are excited about the possibilities of utilizing it in the future.