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Lee County deputies use drones to fight crime, gather intelligence

Lee County Sheriff’s Office is using drones to fight crime and keep law enforcement officers safe.

We spoke to Lee County deputies Thursday to learn what goes into running the flying intelligence gatherers. LCSO said, at all times, a drone pilot is ready to operate its equipment in every corner of Lee County.

“Let’s say I’m looking for a missing person, I can be pretty far away and zoom in between a car or two,” LCSO Detective James Bates said.

Drones can see through what people can’t. That’s why LCSO has 25 of them in its disposal.

“We get that drone up in the air; we’re able to tell and see things that we can’t do unless we’re physically going into a house,” LCSO Sheriff Carmine Marceno said.

This gives the sheriff’s office an advantage during responses such as a SWAT standoff near someone barricaded in a structure with a gun. And It helps law enforcement answer important questions in the field.

“Do they have a weapon? Do they have a knife, have a gun? Where are they hiding?” Marceno said.

Infrared technology featured in drones pinpoints heat and the people it’s coming from.

“If I’m doing a pattern looking for a missing person, I can see where I’ve been,” Bates said.

This could help drone operators to find a missing child.

“We can actually see their heat coming off in the water,” Bates said.

This can help them see the trail in the water from where they were at.

Drones come thousands of dollars less than a helicopter, but the view isn’t cheap. LCSO has 90 certified deputy drone pilots.

Of note: The sheriff’s office cannot use drones to gather evidence unless a judge signs a warrant.

Reporter:Anika Henanger
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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