Abilene Police Department serves and protects from the sky with upgraded drone

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ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – As technology continues to evolve, the Abilene Police Department is taking full advantage. Their latest upgrade is a new and improved drone that’s helping keep our community safe from up above.

The Abilene Police Department is serving and protecting from the sky, but this drone does more than just give a birds eye view.

“Better protection, better information,” APD Drone Pilot Officer Brian Trail said.

APD has had a drone since 2016, but recently upgraded. This one includes features like night vision and 30x zoom.

“Let’s say you have a sniper on top of that building. I promise he won’t see that drone or hear that drone. We can sit here and visualize him and let the scene commander know what they’re looking at, what they’re looking for with out having to send anybody that close,” Officer Trail said.

It even has thermal imagery that, during cooler months, they can use to locate a suspect or missing person.

“Lets just say we have someone who is lost in the woods. A child, someone who has dementia or Alzheimer’s or something like that and they’ve wandered off, especially at nighttime it will be very very helpful. Yes we can get canines out there and possibly start a track but if we can get in the air you can see how much ground we can cover,” Officer Trail said.

The main use for the drone is motor vehicle accidents.

“Instead of having a roadway closed hours on end trying to reconstruct the scene we can fly this drone over the scene and have it completed in about 20 minutes,” Officer Trail said.

APD can even use it to help other departments and agencies. The Abilene Fire Department utilized the drone in May to help fight a massive fire at the Pine Street Salvage Yard.

“Because there were so many large piles and those were really hard to see past and it was really dark and not a lot of room to maneuver around they gave us a full shot of everything that was around us, on the other side of everything that was occurring. We could see possible exposures on the other side. We could see if we were actually hitting the fire in the right places,” Abilene Fire Chief Cande Flores said.

The thermal imagery capabilities took that coverage one step further.

“That really let us see the hottest spots in that large pile and those are pretty invaluable when you’re trying to fight something that’s not normal, that’s not something we deal with everyday,” Chief Cande Flores said.

The Abilene Police Department does not use the drone to spy on people. They are only regulated to use it during active scenes and have to log each use. APD also has certifications through the FAA to be able to fly the drone with few limitations.

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