Liberty County Sheriff's Office establishing aviation unit to utilize UAS

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In Liberty, Texas, the Liberty County Sheriff’s Office has announced that it is establishing an aviation unit and utilizing small UAS for a variety of operations.

Using funds secured through court-awarded confiscated drug money, the agency purchased a Phantom 4 Pro Plus small UAS. The UAS was put into full operation the week of April 16, and has been placed under the command of the Special Operation Division of the Sheriff’s Office.

In a press release published on KFDM.com, Sheriff Bobby Rader explains the process that went into launching this program.

“We had to gather the information that was needed to write rules and put together a policy that would address many issues. Once the policy was written we had Liberty County District Attorney Logan Pickett review it to assure it met all local and state legal requirements,” Rader says.

“The policy was then given to the Policy and Review Committee of the Sheriff’s Office to be certain the policy would meet all agency requirements, goals and objectives and to assure transparency of the UAV operations.”

Rader adds that he wanted to make sure that the policy would prohibit the violations of anyone’s privacy rights, which it does in his opinion. Now, additional flight training of both pilots and observers will begin.

According to Rader, the main objectives of the program will be to “save lives in the event of a disaster, find lost children and adults and help in the gathering of data needed to investigate a crime scene.” Rader believes that the UAS also has the ability to “take away advantages that a tactical shooter may have in a school or commercial area.”

Deputy Sean Mitchell is the Pilot in Command of the Sheriff’s new Aviation Unit. Dep. Mitchell has already assisted in two high profile cases—one of which involved assisting the Department of Public Safety in a four car fatal wreck on a highway, and another involved flying the path traveled by a child who was later found drowned to determine characteristics of the scene.

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