At the beginning of 2017 the Noble County Sheriff Department established an Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) Division. Noble County was one of the first departments in the state to do so. The UAS Division consists of a two man team operating a UAS, more commonly referred to as a “drone.” Noble County currently has two DJI Inspire 1 quadcopters. Each of the Inspires is equipped with a FLIR camera capable of night vision and is also able to pick up heat signatures during the day and night. The division is led by Deputy Shafter Baker who is the primary pilot. Deputy Michael Polly is the secondary pilot. Both deputies have a DJI Inspire 1 assigned to them at all times and are FAA licensed remote pilots.
The UAS division is used for many different details. The primary purpose is for search and rescue missions. Searches that used to take hours have been cut down to minutes in most cases. A large area that once required a lot of manpower to cover can now be done much faster and with fewer people. Already this year the UAS Division has had multiple successful missions in which a missing juvenile, adult as well as a fleeing suspect have all been located with only a few minutes of getting up in the air. Other uses so far have included photographic documentation of accident scenes, crime scenes, and search warrant services. The limitations do not end there though as we continue to discover new ways to use the technology. As Sheriff Harp once said, “the sky’s the limit” with what drones can do in assisting law enforcement and the community.
UAS Division Publicity
Noble County’s UAS division does public demonstrations for organizations such as schools, charities and community events. Also, being one of the pioneers for law enforcement in the UAS arena has led to numerous news media stories featuring the NCSD in both television and print. Our successful missions have been featured in local papers, local television news, the Indy Star newspaper, and even nationally on USA Today’s website.