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Delaware uses drones to enhance public safety

Sarah Mueller
Gov. John Carney shown how to operate a drone

The Delaware Department of Transportation Drone Team is using the new technology to enhance public safety. Members briefed Gov. John Carney on the program Monday.

Delaware has been using drones for the past two years. DelDOT and law enforcement have deployed them to check on hazardous road conditions and car accidents.

Dwayne Day is a Homeland Security planner. He said he has eight drone pilots and one in training. The team has 12 drones of different sizes and capabilities, which ranged in cost from around $1,000 to around $20,000.

Day said drones were deployed during last year’s riot at the Vaughn Correctional Center in Smyrna.

“We flew overhead and we sent that image back into the state police command center so that they could continuously watch and they could videotape," he said. "We also provided oversight pictures for their special ops teams.”

Day said drones were also used during Firefly earlier this year to help law enforcement track individuals suspected of theft in the dark using a thermal drone.

“We had a thermal drone and obviously it picks up heat signatures," he said. "And the individuals were sneaking up underneath the fence and they were heading to the tents. In the past, you know, they’ve basically gone through the tents and stolen things.”

Federal Aviation Administration rules apply. Drones must be flown at or below 400 feet and it is illegal to fly them in restricted airspace like over Dover Air Base.

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