Connect with us


Tiverton Police Department begins public safety program with purchase of drones



Photo courtesy of Tiverton Police

TIVERTON — Chief Patrick Jones is pleased to announce that the Tiverton Police Department has begun a public safety drone program.

The department has purchased a DJI Mavic 3t drone and DJI Matrice 30 Series drone, each with multiple battery packs that will enable them to continue flying over long periods of time when needed. The launch of the new program was supported by a $6,000 grant from State Rep. John Edwards and State Sen. Walter Felag.

Both drones have been registered through the Federal Aviation Administration and are operated per FAA guidelines and only by qualified agency personnel. The drones are deployed only to support official law enforcement and public safety missions and not for nonspecific surveillance purposes.

The drones are operated by a team of two officers, with Sgt. Ryan Huber or Sgt. Jason Kobelecki piloting the drone and another officer serving as a visual observer. Both drones have thermal and infrared capabilities. The live video feed is viewable to the pilot from the controller and can be digitally transmitted to other involved officers and administrators during flight.

The drones can be deployed in various scenarios, including for search and rescue, suspect apprehension, crime scene photography, traffic collision reconstruction, tactical operations and disaster response. The drones will also be used to assist with criminal investigations and searches, but always in accordance with the same rules and regulations that police must adhere to when conducting searches in person. The drones can only be used in accordance with established Rhode Island law regarding search and seizure, probable cause and search warrants.

In recent years, drones have become an effective tool for law enforcement agencies across the country to improve situational awareness in cases of searches, tactical operations and more. The devices offer real-time sight around and above buildings and into small areas, and infrared viewing capabilities enable effective searches in difficult terrain such as woods or marshes.

Regionally, drones have helped agencies find suspects and missing children, conduct evidence recovery and collision reconstruction, and monitor the spread of fires.

Research into starting a drone program in Tiverton began following a 2022 barricaded subject incident during which officers encountered an individual inside a residence who had made threats and had access to firearms. Following this incident, which was resolved peacefully, Sgt. Huber began researching ways to make volatile scenarios — such as barricaded subjects — safer for the responding officers.

In preparation to launch the program, Sgts. Huber and Kobelecki attended a Drones for First Responders course to prepare for the process of starting an Unmanned Aircraft Systems (drone) program in the agency. They have also completed the FAA Part 107 remote pilot exam and obtained Remote Pilot Certificates, which are required to operate a public safety drone program in the United States.

In addition to this training, both sergeants will attend a Drone Mapping and Traffic Reconstruction course to learn more about using the drones for crash reconstruction, crime scene analysis and mapping for tactical operations.

The department is also working to develop a Standard Operating Procedure for the program, which will outline the proper use of the drones, proper drone team deployment and a training plan for members of the team.

Since the program launched, the drones have been used multiple times in Tiverton, including to help locate a fleeing suspect in the woods and to assist with a fire investigation.

Sgt. Kobelecki also conducted a drone presentation and demonstration for Tiverton High School Career and Technical Education students during a visit to police headquarters.

The drones will additionally be utilized for mutual aid requests and through the aerial Special Response Team to assist area police departments with the same mission types that can be flown in Tiverton.

“Drones are a valuable technology that can modernize and enhance police operations and make volatile situations safer for our officers and community members,” Chief Jones said. “We’ve already seen success in deploying the technology, and look forward to the public safety impact the drone program can have in Tiverton and as a mutual aid resource for other agencies. I would like to commend Sgts. Huber and Kobelecki for their work to bring this valuable technology to our town, and also extend my thanks to Rep. Edwards and Sen. Felag for the generous grant funding.”

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Copyright © 2017 Fall River Reporter

Translate »