ANTIGO, WI (WAOW/CNN) – Drones are becoming a popular aid in selling homes and fighting fires, but over the weekend, a drone led the way as hundreds of volunteers searched for a missing 3-year-old boy. The child is home safe.
“(The) sheriff’s department called us and we headed out right away first thing in the morning,” Cameron Berg of Unmanned Systems Inc. said.
“It was a very valuable resource,” Langlade Co. Sheriff Bill Greening said.
As 400 volunteers gathered in Deerbrook in search of missing Dyton Logalbo on Sunday, a tiny aircraft helped organize the search efforts.
“We had all of the ground search teams walk directly to the drone as means of walking in a straight line,” Berg said. “Once they got to the drone, they’d spread out. We’d fly the drone to another spot.”
“(It) helped direct volunteers. (It) helped with the oversight of the entire field we were looking in,” Greening said.
Berg said the boy may have been found much sooner, but the equipment he needed, a thermo cam, was at a testing facility in Montana.
He said unmanned aircraft could be the law enforcement tool of the future.
“Drones are a lot more cost effective,” Berg said. “In the long run, they’re a lot more capable of doing these smaller jobs like this.”
The sheriff agrees.
“A department our size, there’s no way we could afford a helicopter or an airplane for that matter. But yeah, these would be the next best option,” Greening said.
In fact, the sheriff’s department already has a plan to go more high tech.
“We (have) begun the process of looking at purchasing drones for our agency,” Greening said. “We would train their deputies on how to use drones. In the long run, I think that would be the smartest thing to do so they have them on hand whenever they need them.”