MCSO demonstrates how they use drone imaging to capture suspects

[anvplayer video=”5058098″ station=”998131″]

PENFIELD, N.Y. (WHEC) — Drones are now key members of the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office when tracking down suspects. The drone team was activated during a shots fired call in Genesee County over the weekend.

These drones are not just eyes in the sky. They have thermal imaging technology that can pick up a heat source, like the human body. The sheriff’s office gave News10NBC a demonstration on how officers used this camera to make that arrest.

If you had just your own two feet to try and find someone or something in a big field. It could take forever, right? Well, in a matter of seconds, a drone can see and sense. In this case, a person.

"The heat signature, based on the call, the time of day, using your different color pallets you can coordinate an effort to go in and verify what that heat signature is,” Deputy Brian McCoy said, from the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office.

The sheriff’s office shared video of the thermal imaging infrared camera they used over the weekend during a search in the woods in Batavia. Police were searching for a suspect that ran away from officers during a traffic stop. The suspect had a gun at that point, so searching only by foot in the dead of night was too dangerous.

"If you don’t have something specifically cleared then you can focus your efforts into the areas that you want to verify to clear,” McCoy said.

Heat sources can pick up animal or human movement. The different pallets can be the gray screen here or a darker red and orange. Drones can save the day, but there are regulations that even police have to follow.

"With rules and regulations of the FAA it is actually a craft so we are held to a tight window, you can go 400 feet in the air, if you have further things to investigate you would stay in at smaller area and use the cameras to in this case, find that person,” McCoy added.

There is not just one person flying the drone. The team consists of a pilot, someone to operate the camera within the drone, as well as someone to monitor and verify what heat sources are picked up.