Provo police utilize drones for search and rescue missions

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The Provo Police Department actively uses drones to get to places that are difficult to get to in a vehicle or on foot.

While drones and the views they provide are not necessarily new technology, Provo police officers using them is new to some people.

Lt. Chris Chambers is one of the drone pilot operators with the Police Department.

Provo Police initially started the drone program around 2015, and it was used for a search and rescue mission, according to Chambers.

“We had just one drone for several years … and as the technology improved and the prices came down, we started to purchase more drones and started to build up a drone team to where we now have about 15 pilots and we have about 20 different drones,” Chambers said.

According to Chambers, some of the drones have infrared scanners that can pick up heat signatures. The scanners are great for searching for missing people, like hikers or autistic children.

“So all of us are in training because it’s constantly changing and the technologies are changing. The different drones that we purchase change and so it allows us to just keep getting practice,” Chambers said.

Chambers explained the drone team’s biggest challenge is staying up to date on technology. All of the pilots have to recertify every three years.

Braden Barry is a student at BYU. He said he has family members who have drones back home, but he did not know about the Provo police drone team.

“I think it would be great for search and rescue applications. If they’re using it to give out speeding tickets, I’m not cool with that,” Barry said.

The Provo police drone team’s long term goal is to increase the safety of the officers when they are out responding as well as to increase the safety of civilians.

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