Williamson County Sheriffs approved to operate Unmanned Aircraft Systems


Williamson County Sheriffs approved to operate Unmanned Aircraft Systems

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The Williamson County Sheriff’s Office has taken steps to integrate Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) in its operations, achieving approval in less than 90 days.

In an ongoing effort to utilize technology to be more efficient with taxpayer money, the Williamson County Sheriff’s Office has taken steps to integrate Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) in its operations, achieving approval in less than 90 days.

Sheriff Jeff Long said he wants to use the aircraft to aid the fire department by getting aerial images of large fires or vehicular accidents and assist the county’s SWAT team during emergencies.

The aircraft can scan heavily vegetated areas for missing persons, such as during a hostage crisis. In a search and rescue environment, a UAS can complete the work of 875 man-hours in 30 minutes.

UAS will allow the agency to go to places and access information it never could before. Nearby counties have struggled through the vigorous FAA approval process for over two years without receiving approval, but by enlisting Huntsville-based Avion Solutions’ experienced Commercial UAS Team, Williamson County was able to rapidly go from decision point to launch point in less than three months.

The Williamson County Sheriff’s Office has applied for and received a Certificate of Authorization (COA) through the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to allow training flights of a UAS. The COA will allow limited operations within a restricted unpopulated area for training and evaluation purposes only.

Once the training phase is complete, the agency will submit for jurisdictional approval to allow the officers to fly the UAS operationally. The initial training flights will occur in the area near the county jail complex and the Williamson County Agricultural Expo Center.

As a result, Williamson County residents will soon be able to benefit from this versatile technology’s applications – Sheriff Long estimates the program to be fully operational within 90-120 days.

The aircraft being operated is a DJI Inspire 1, and operates with four small rotors that allow it to take off and land vertically. Battery powered and remotely controlled, it can stay aloft for up to 22 minutes on a single charge and also has a built-in 4K camera system with an additional rear-mounted FLIR (Forward-Looking Infrared) thermal camera.

While the UAS will not replace a traditional aviation unit, there are many circumstances that do not require a fully equipped helicopter/airplane. Williamson County’s intent is for UAS to assist with lifesaving operations at a significantly reduced cost to the taxpayer, and allow for immediate response when time is critical to achieving the best outcome.

The use of UAS in law enforcement is a growing trend nationwide. More than 80 law enforcement agencies, colleges and other government agencies across the nation have been granted or applied for permits to fly UAS, according to FAA records.

In an ongoing effort to utilize technology to be more efficient with taxpayer money, the Williamson County Sheriff’s Office has taken steps to integrate Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) in its operations, achieving approval in less than 90 days.

Sheriff Jeff Long said he wants to use the aircraft to aid the fire department by getting aerial images of large fires or vehicular accidents and assist the county’s SWAT team during emergencies.

The aircraft can scan heavily vegetated areas for missing persons, such as during a hostage crisis. In a search and rescue environment, a UAS can complete the work of 875 man-hours in 30 minutes.

UAS will allow the agency to go to places and access information it never could before. Nearby counties have struggled through the vigorous FAA approval process for over two years without receiving approval, but by enlisting Huntsville-based Avion Solutions’ experienced Commercial UAS Team, Williamson County was able to rapidly go from decision point to launch point in less than three months.

The Williamson County Sheriff’s Office has applied for and received a Certificate of Authorization (COA) through the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to allow training flights of a UAS. The COA will allow limited operations within a restricted unpopulated area for training and evaluation purposes only.

Once the training phase is complete, the agency will submit for jurisdictional approval to allow the officers to fly the UAS operationally. The initial training flights will occur in the area near the county jail complex and the Williamson County Agricultural Expo Center.

As a result, Williamson County residents will soon be able to benefit from this versatile technology’s applications – Sheriff Long estimates the program to be fully operational within 90-120 days.

The aircraft being operated is a DJI Inspire 1, and operates with four small rotors that allow it to take off and land vertically. Battery powered and remotely controlled, it can stay aloft for up to 22 minutes on a single charge and also has a built-in 4K camera system with an additional rear-mounted FLIR (Forward-Looking Infrared) thermal camera.

While the UAS will not replace a traditional aviation unit, there are many circumstances that do not require a fully equipped helicopter/airplane. Williamson County’s intent is for UAS to assist with lifesaving operations at a significantly reduced cost to the taxpayer, and allow for immediate response when time is critical to achieving the best outcome.

The use of UAS in law enforcement is a growing trend nationwide. More than 80 law enforcement agencies, colleges and other government agencies across the nation have been granted or applied for permits to fly UAS, according to FAA records.

About The Author

Kelly Gilfillan is the owner-publisher of Home Page Media Group which has been publishing hyperlocal news since 2009.

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