GREEN COVE SPRINGS, Fla. – Clay County Sheriff Michelle Cook on Monday announced the rollout of the agency’s newest tool: drones.
The Clay County Sheriff’s Office said the drones will bring new capabilities to the agency and enhance public safety.
“I’m excited to announce the rollout of our agency’s newest life-saving and crime-fighting technology,” Cook said.
The Sheriff’s Office purchased three drones. Two will be assigned to patrol operations, and the third is assigned to the agency’s Emergency Preparedness Unit.
Cook said that getting to the point of launching the new drone program took several months of research and that adding it to her office brings it up to speed with others of similar size.
“We are seeing it almost as an industry standard in law enforcement across the country for the medium-size agencies,” Cook said.
The sheriff said there are seven Clay County deputies who are licensed to fly the drones. Cook said the agency plans to have at least one operator on each shift.
The sheriff said this program is important because her deputies respond to calls in which time is of the essence. She said, historically, when water rescue calls were made, they would have to wait for the dive team or marine unit to show up — and now they don’t have to.
“By having these very quick response drones available to the deputies on the street, we can turn what would’ve been an hour response time into just a few minutes of a response time,” Cook said.
And by implementing this program, Clay County Sgt. Chris Glenn said it helps make sure their deputies aren’t showing up to scenes they’re not needed at.
“You see a lot of in different scenarios over police presence within certain things. We can take a distance look, see things and see if we need to deploy resources into that,” Glenn said.
The Sheriff’s Office said starting the drone program is more cost effective for taxpayers versus buying a helicopter, as helicopters cost hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars while its drones cost around $20,000.