New drones mean new ways to help

 One of the new drones for Pennington County.
One of the new drones for Pennington County. (KOTA)
Published: Dec. 12, 2019 at 4:00 PM CST
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The Pennington County Sheriff's Office, the Rapid City Police Department, and the Pennington County Search and Rescue joined forced to get two drones... with a combined price tag of $56,000.

Dustin Morrison is a Special operation lieutenant for the Pennington County Sheriff's Office.

"That includes the DJI Matrice a larger drone, a smaller drone that's more quick deployable, as well as a tether," said Morrison. "You know you get into the additional batteries and other equipment and all that and the cost amounted to that."

But the cost is nothing compared to the lives they will be able to save with this new technology.

"Missing persons with the infrared cameras, we can go out day or night. We can fly over an area to maybe locate something in regards to the missing person or the actual missing person," said Morrison. "Additionally special response team call-outs, or natural disasters, or really any major incident allows us to have a birds-eye view of what's going on real-time."

But with such advanced technology, there are going to be some struggles.

Jeff Jones is a Deputy Sheriff for the Pennington County Sheriff's Office.

"It's challenging because technology grows so fast and the drone itself almost flies itself, but it's all the technical stuff that goes along with the drone," said Jones. "Manning the cameras, learning how to zoom, using a flare, thermal, those things present a little bit more of a challenge for us pilots."

And it's a challenge the teams are ready for.