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Ripon Police secure drone to assist with search efforts

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POSTED December 24, 2016 12:37 a.m.

The Ripon Police Department just added an Unmanned Aircraft System.
It came as a donation from the Diamond Pet Food Company as technology to help ensure public safety.
On Wednesday, the Ripon City Council unanimously approved accepting the gift of the DJI Phantom 4 Pro and a DJI Inspire 2 UAV plus hardware and accessories for police to use.
The estimated cost was nearly $10,000.
According to Chief Ed Ormonde, police will work in partnership with the Ripon Fire Consolidated District with the drones when trying to find missing or lost people.
Plans also call for police to use the UAS to search property or homes along with surveillance. “But it won’t be used to assist patrol,” Ormonde said.
Police would comply with the City’s UAS ordinances when taking the UAS out for training or free time. However, this system, when used for police duties, has been cleared to operate outside of these laws, Ormonde added.
“This UAS is for limited use and would have to be approved by a supervisor when taking it out,” he said.
Dan Brannon, the City’s Information Systems Technician, indicated that this system is operated on the ground by an authorized pilot using a hand-held monitor.
“There will be a larger monitor nearby,” he said. “This system would be capable to sending live video to the dispatch center (away from the active scene).”
Councilman Jake Parks was pleased to discover that this UAS system is compatible with the current City of Ripon technology.
Thanks to changes to Federal Aviation Administration and National Airspace rules and regulations – couple that with innovations is UAS safety – police believed that this is the best time to have a UAS.
They recently trained with Modesto Police Department’s Unmanned Aerial Vehicles unit, receiving information on the overview of the UAV program, operating parameters, and several demonstration flights, Brannon said.

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