Fountain Police Department launches new drone program

FOUNTAIN, Colo. — The Fountain Police Department is launching a new drone program.

The department now has a licensed drone pilot who hopes to propel the department forward and cut down response times.

Officer Eric Moore said it’s a more cost effective and time efficient way to help solve crime.

The Maverick drone was a Christmas president for Officer Moore.

“I always get joked about being the nerd at the department. I’m okay with that because I get to play with some pretty cool toys,” said Officer Moore.

He showed it off to the chief of police, who quickly realized it could be put to good use at the department.

“They said that’s so cool you need to create a program based off of this and from there it just kind of took off,” said Officer Moore. “The whole idea from when I first started it was ‘how can I use this type of technology to save lives?’”

The 5-ounce machine can track down suspects, find missing children and get aerial views of traffic accidents and crime scene hoping to reduce response times.

Officer Moore said previously, the Accident Reconstruction Team would have to call the fire department out to the scene, strap them in the cherry picker, and lift them up to get a photo of a scene.

They would have to come back down and check if the picture was okay, too. If it wasn’t, they had to start the whole process again. He said that is just one of the many advantage the drone brings to the department.

“The fastest I have gotten this drone set up and deployed in is three minutes and that was under simulated stress,” Officer Moore said.

Since January, he has put in 150 man hours to launch the drone program.

That includes everything from getting my license to fly, through part 107 through the FAA, doing all the research with the FAA, partnering with Butts Army Airfield and Colorado Springs Regional Airfield to make sure that we are not flying illegally,” said Moore.

He donated the drone and the department put in another $1,000, making the total investment reach $2,500.

“The equipment licensing payments relatively inexpensive when you look at what outcome it could possible provide for you,” Moore said.

He noted it’s better than a police helicopter which costs more than $1 million, in addition to repairs.

Moore said being the drone lover that he is, there is only one disadvantage of the program.

“It is now City of Fountain property, which is nice because they are now taking care of the up keep up on it; but the downside is I don’t get to take it home and fly it any more for fun purposes,”

Officer Moore noted that he will gladly share the technology with any department in an emergency response.

“I don’t want to sit here and say this is Officer Moore’s program; this is a police program,” said Moore. “I want to start to help save lives in any way shape or form that I can. If that means you save one kid a year, using this, the program pays for itself.”

However because the drone gives a bird’s eye view some locals were concerned about privacy issues.

Citizens worried that the police may use their drone to spy on them and find out information without probably cause.

We asked the department if there are laws against that kind of thing, Officer Moore said drone laws are still evolving because the practice is fairly new, but drones typically have to follow aviation laws and aren’t allowed to take pictures of somebody’s house without reason.

“If we’re out there for a legitimate purpose, to investigate and incident that, you know, somebody is jumping backyards, with a rifle or a fire arm and there is somebody that was injured or they’ve assaulted someone a serious incident. We are utilizing this to locate them; we look primarily to utilize it for the apprehension, I’m not as worried about, the individual who might have a single marijuana plant in their backyard,” said Moore.

They plan to officially launch the drone program in January of 2018 and increase the size of the drone team.

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