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  • Cathie Rowand | The Journal Gazette Fort Wayne police officers Mike Hickman, left, and James Rowland prepare to demonstrate the department's new Typhoon H-Pro with Real Sense drones for the Aerial Support Unit.

  • Fort Wayne Police demonstrate a new Air Support Unit. FWPD purchased two “Typhoon H-Pro with Real Sense Drones” that will be put in service to assist the officers. Four officers will go through training to certify them through the FAA as Remote Pilot-In-Command officers.

  • Courtesy FWPD Air Support Unit The Public Safety Academy is shown in this aerial photo taken Thursday by one of the new drones to be used by the FWPD. 

Friday, August 04, 2017 1:00 am

Fort Wayne Police Department unveils drones

4 officers to train to operate aircraft

DAVE GONG | The Journal Gazette

Four Fort Wayne city police officers will undergo a nine-day training program to certify them as FAA remote pilot-in-command officers for two Typhoon H-Pro with Real Sense drones.

“We looked at a lot of different models, and we really liked this one because it's a hex platform and it has six blades, it's very stable,” Officer James Rowland said. 

The drones were demonstrated Thursday at the Ivy Tech Public Safety Academy on the city's southeast side. The drones cost just under $10,000 for the pair. Police say once the drones are in use, they will be used only under the authority of a search warrant, except in select situations. Those situations would include active-shooter cases, barricade incidents, missing-persons cases, terrorist attacks, natural disasters, geographical and environmental surveys and aerial photography and video images of motor vehicle accident scenes. 

Mayor Tom Henry was on hand Thursday for the demonstration. He praised the purchase as a way to assist police in their duties.

“We have a limited number of police officers in an area that is pretty immense,” Henry said. “Any time we can add technology to assist them in everything from Amber Alerts to hostage situations, anything we can use to assist them to raise the comfort level of our police department and of those affected is a good thing.”

Aerial Support Unit officers will work in teams of two, with one officer assigned as a visual observer to assist with pre-flight, launch and landing procedures, as well as to maintain situational awareness and communications with other on-scene law enforcement personnel. The other team member, known as the remote pilot in command, will pilot the drone. 

The Fort Wayne Police Department plans to expand the unmanned aircraft system to include nighttime missions. 

dgong@jg.net