WALKER, Mich. — The Walker Police Department has a new drone team that it hopes will help keep its officers safe and better protect and serve the community.
If you live in the City of Walker and happen to see an orange and black drone flying around, the police department is likely on a case.
“This isn't something that we're going to be using to just conduct routine surveillance on citizens. We actually have a policy against it. This is something that's going to aid us on more critical incidents," Cpl. Chris Wietfeldt with the Walker Police Department said.
Walker PD received its new drone in July and the six team members have been busy training ever since.
“They've all been through some training for the FAA certification process. And then we also are doing monthly trainings at the department," Wietfeldt said.
Police say the drone will be for search and rescue missions, documenting crash scenes and other high-risk situations that they wouldn’t want to put an officer’s safety in jeopardy.
"If there's a barricaded suspect with a gun, or even like a hazmat spill, or something like that, somewhere, we don't want to send an officer and we can send the drone in to get a visual on that area," Wietfeldt said.
This particular drone has high-definition cameras that can take both still images and video. Plus, thermal imaging can pick up heat signatures.
“This month, we have had a couple of deployments with it, it was used once to locate some stolen property in a wooded area, as well as to document a major crash scene," Wietfeldt said.
Walker PD joins other local law enforcement agencies like the Kent County Sheriff’s Office and Michigan State Police already using drones.
“I think you're going to see drones in just about every department out there before long within the next five to 10 years. I think it's going to be an extremely beneficial tool for a lot of reasons," Wietfeldt said.
The main reason is to keep everyone safe.
No taxpayer dollars were used to purchase the drone, it was acquired through a private donation.
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