Drones help Collier law enforcement, fire rescue save lives and money

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Collier County Sheriff’s Office Drone footage from Sept. 14, 2017, after Hurricane Irma.

It doesn’t wear a badge and it doesn’t drive a squad car but it’s changing the way law enforcement does its job.

Sgt Jim Baker with the Collier County Sheriff’s Office spearheaded a drone program a few years ago almost by accident. Since then, deputy drone pilots have used the drones to aid them on countless missions.

Baker said, “If they get on scene they can be in the air in under 5 minutes.”

Officers are put in dangerous situations almost on a daily basis, but what exactly would a drone be used for that would keep them safe and help aid in calls?

“Examples of that would be missing people, swat call outs, any time we don’t have time to get a warrant,” Baker said.

Last March a bomb threat shook students at Naples High School. It turned out to be a false alarm, but deputies were able to put the drone where they wouldn’t want to put a human being. This can help save time assessing a situation while figuring out what’s going on.

Firefighters in are also utilizing drones to help save lives and move more quickly.

Greater Naples Fire Rescue Chief Kingman Schuldt said, “They can put a drone several hundred feet above a house on fire and we can look at that and say, It’s too large too dangerous we wont put anyone inside, or we can look at it and spot a victim more quickly.”

CCSO works in tandem with Greater Naples Fire Rescue and North Collier Fire Rescue on structure fires.

Sgt Baker says this puts less men and women at risk, and gets the job done quicker.

The drone program is also cost effective for tax payers.

Deputies can use the drone to determine if they need to send a chopper up in the sky which it much more expensive to use.

The Collier County Sheriff’s Office is also working with neighboring law enforcement agencies to train them on how to use the equipment.

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