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Drones Bought by Washington Police and Firefighters

Washington police and Firefighters are getting a new tool for their arsenals: drones. According to Mark Skornia, the city’s emergency management director, the city will spend $92,000 over five years to buy four camera-equipped drones from police technology startup Axon for a joint initiative between the Washington Police Department and the Washington Fire Department. According to Skornia, the purchase includes software that allows police and Firefighters to see drone footage as well as cloud storage to save it.

According to Skornia, two of the drones are little “pocket drones.” The police department will largely employ a medium-sized drone, while firemen will primarily use a larger drone. The advantages of pocket drones, according to Skornia, are that they are compact and perfect for training, as well as “clearly, they’re considerably cheaper.” According to him, the larger drone has an infrared camera that will aid firemen in identifying hot spots in a smoke-filled structure.

It also has cargo capability, allowing rescuers to drop a life jacket to someone in a water rescue on the Missouri River, for example. The police agency would deploy the medium-sized drone in potentially hostile scenarios, such as scouting out a building or probable crime scene before dispatching officers, he said. The city anticipates the drones arriving in the coming weeks, but Axon has yet to provide an exact delivery date.

Five police officers and three Firefighters will be trained and licenced to fly drones by the Federal Aviation Administration, according to Skornia. The city intends to cross-train those cops so that they can assist one another. Axon has provided the city with other devices. According to prior Missourian reporting, it purchased 21 body cameras and 14 dash cameras in September, equipping every officer on the road or stationed at a school, as well as all vehicles in the fleet.

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