Ector Co. Sheriff's Office filing FAA waivers, hoping drone can cover more areas

Ector Co. Sheriff's Office filing FAA waivers, hoping drone can cover more areas

ECTOR COUNTY, TX (KWES) - The Ector County Sheriff's Office is using new technology to solve crimes, they've added a drone to their team.

They're even trying to expand the areas they cover by filing FAA restriction waivers. ECSO can see up to 300 feet high and a quarter of a mile away up to 15 minutes with their new drone.

Investigator Danial Linley got the idea to have drones help with serious crime scenes after a flying a drone during a vacation.

"If this is an actual situation going we can see if there's someone hiding here, or tell if there's something over there or something that doesn't need to be bothered with there," said Linley. "So we don't have to waste time going over there and at the same time, if there's a threat we need to address or an object we're looking for someone missing, someone doing an attacking type situation."

Linley has his pilots license, the sheriff's office is working with the county attorney's office to waive several FAA restrictions. Drones aren't allowed to fly at night or within five miles of an airport.

"Law enforcement isn't an 8-5 job so being able to see at night is going to be a huge benefit. With the waivers we can put it up as the situation shows it's needed," said Linley. "If we get the waiver to fly within five miles of an airport then we can contact FAA and say hey we're going to fly in this area and they'll okay it and they'll know now to have any flight paths in that area at that time."

The FLIR system senses body heat and makes it possible to see in the dark. ECSO wants to solve cases before they end tragically, especially any missing children or elderly.

"We hope we can utilize it to help save somebody not just document the after effects," said Linley. "I mean it's going to pay for itself that moment that we find a child."

ECSO is the only agency in the Midland-Odessa area to use the new technology, other first responders are also looking into the possibility.

ECSO said the drones are only used for active crime scenes not to keep an eye on or "watch" residents.

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