Collier County Sheriff’s using drones, towers to keep shoppers safe on Black Friday

The holiday shopping season is already underway and a new set of eyes are on you. The Collier County Sheriff’s Office is flying drones to watch shoppers and monitor crowds.

Pat Mitchell has more on her mind than Black Friday deals. “When I walked out the door and I’m carrying a computer and I could sense somebody behind me you know it kind of got my attention. So yeah it’s something I’m a lot more focused on I think now than I used to be.”

In fact, everyone WINK News spoke to in this North Naples shopping center told safety and security is top of mind. Arlene Wronski, of Collier County, said, “because in this day and age anything can happen anywhere.”

Tom Hartshorm said, “when you go into a retail store or even a grocery store if it’s night and it’s dark and you’re not sure of the people surrounding you then it becomes a concern.”

“It’s also a stressful time for people who may not have as much and sometimes make bad decisions,” said Susan Young.

For all those reasons and more, the Collier County Sheriff’s Office will be watching from above.

The drone will help deputies monitor crowds and traffic.

Collier County Sergeant Brian Sawyer said, “if we have congestion issues, or large crowds, vantage points that we can’t necessarily see from the ground, we will be able to see from a slightly higher point of view to make sure that everyone’s safe.”

Deputies also will station themselves in parking lot observation towers so would-be thieves know they are there.

It is also on you though to lock your cars and don’t let your guard down. “Don’t make yourself available to be a victim to a criminal,” said Sawyer.

The Collier County Sheriff’s Office has 28 drones.

Deputies said they won’t all fly at once, but they’ll be ready to go when shopping centers get a bit too crowded.

Reporter:Rachel Cox-Rosen
Writer:Matthew Seaver
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