CALEDONIA – Caledonia Police Department (CPD) officials are looking forward to the purchase of a sophisticated drone with a $16,000 donation received Thursday.
The donation came from the operators of Jellystone Park Camp-Resort in Caledonia where fundraising activities earlier this month helped raise the needed money. An oversized check was presented to Caledonia Police officials at the campground’s Bear Paw Adventure Park, a man-made lake and beach at 10006 7 Mile Road.
“We’re pleased to be able to do this. It’s been a very good partnership with the Caledonia Police,” said Randy Isaacson, chairman of the family-owned business that operates the campground and attractions.
Funds were raised on ticket sales to Bear Paw Adventure Park events on Aug. 2 and 4 that included a nighttime light display using synchronized drones (robotic unmanned aircraft) that fly overhead to music. As part of the events on those days, Caledonia Officers Sarah Hanley and John Holiman and Lt. Gary Larsen took turns in a dunk tank for donations. Holiman also competed on Adventure Island’s obstacle course.
“They’ve been terrific partners,” CPD Chief Christopher Botsch said of the fund-raising effort. “We’re very appreciative of all they’ve done for the department and Caledonia.”
Highly sophisticated drone
Receiving the money clears the way for CPD to order a highly sophisticated drone that will help police personnel in many ways, said Lt. Larsen.
“This is something far different from the hobbyist drones,” he said. “This new one is equipped with infrared cameras and features that make it usable day and night.”
Among the potential uses for the new drone – a Matrice M30T model from DJI – include searching for lost children or adults, searching for fleeing crime suspects, locating hot spots in fires and helping to position officers in tactical situations.
Caledonia currently has a small drone, which has been extremely useful, said Sgt. Jim Gardiner is one of two Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) certified drone pilots with the department. Recent uses of the drone have included locating a lost child and searching a vacant school rooftop for a burglary suspect.
But the more advanced model, equipped with two cameras (with wide angle and zoom lenses), night vision (infrared), and heat sensor, will be one of the most sophisticated drones used by a law enforcement agency in this part of Wisconsin, Gardiner said.
To watch a video demonstration of the Matrice M30T by Green Bay dealer Titletown Drones click:
Plans call for an additional four to six Caledonia Police personnel to earn the FAA drone certification, which requires about 8 to 12 hours of training. “We want to have two people per shift that are certified drone pilots, so we can be ready to use it at any time,” said Gardiner.
Once the new drone arrives and Caledonia Police are trained and certified, the department will make it available to other emergency and law enforcement agencies. Gardiner noted that the sharing of equipment and technology is good for overall public safety.
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