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Carter sheriff's department expands its drone arsenal

John Thompson • Jan 24, 2018 at 11:16 PM

ELIZABETHTON — The Carter County Sheriff’s Department has launched the latest tools in its mission to enforce the law and provide for searches and rescues in a county that has a lot of mountainous and forested terrain.

Sheriff Dexter Lunceford said the department’s drones, or unmanned aerial vehicles, will benefit not only his department but also the Carter County Rescue Squad and the volunteer fire departments “to increase the effectiveness of services to our citizens.”

Lunceford said the sheriff’s department is adding two more of the UAVs to its equipment list.

“We obtained an initial UAV in 2016, and purchased a second in 2017. We worked approximately six months in becoming the second agency in Tennessee to obtain licensing by the Federal Aviation Administration to fly a UAV.”

Lunceford said the UAVs have a variety of benefits for the sheriff’s department. “Our UAVs have been successfully used on several occasions. They have been used for search and rescue missions, tactical situations, fires, and foot pursuits. They are available to assist any agency who has a need for their use.”

The UAVs can quickly search an area in the mountainous terrain that could take hours to accomplish by walking.

Lunceford said the department has equipped the devices with zoom lenses and thermal cameras. These thermal cameras allow searchers to use the UAVs at night in no light situations. They can be launched in just a few minutes, no matter the weather, without any safety risk to officers or residents.

Lunceford said the department’s UAVs are tools that will be used for legitimate reasons and they can only be used when he authorizes a flight.

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