Oneida County, N.Y., has unveiled a new unmanned aircraft system (UAS) unit to “protect the lives and property of citizens and first responders as well as being able to detect possible dangers that could not otherwise be seen from the ground,” the Sheriff’s Office announced on its Facebook page.

The unit can support first responders in hazardous situations that would benefit from an aerial perspective. Uses include locating missing persons, search and rescue operations, clearing buildings that may be too dangerous for personnel to enter, and accident scene reconstruction and documentation.

Currently, the Sheriff’s Office has five sworn officers trained and certified to fly the drones. Operators and the unit commander will “have the protection of citizens civil rights and reasonable expectations of privacy as a key component in any decision made when deploying and operating the UAS,” the Sheriff’s Office stated.

The unit of eight drones includes Mavic Air drones for indoor applications and confined areas and Mavic Pro drones for enhanced aerial coverage and stability.

The UAS Unit is funded with the Sheriff’s annual operating budget, and staff will continually seek both state and federal funding opportunities.

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