Sheriff’s Office Needs Eye In The Sky

Anita Campbell
County Reporter
 A child wanders away from home, a senior citizen becomes disoriented and walks away, an accident occurs and a person is unable to move, these are all situations in which the local law enforcement officials may be called to search for someone. Benton County Sheriff Eric Knox is on a quest to obtain a drone for his office to aid his officers in case of an emergency.
“I decided after the situation with the man who shot our Chief of Police that we needed a drone and I am determined to make this happen,” said Knox.  “When we were chasing the suspect, he ran into a wooded area.  If we had a drone we could have found him much sooner and we might have been able to capture him before he shot our Chief.”
Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) or drones have been used for domestic police work in Canada and the United States; dozens of US police forces had applied for UAV permits by March 2013. UAVs can be powerful surveillance tools by carrying camera systems capable of license plate scanning and thermal imaging as well as radio equipment and other sensors.  UAVs have been used by U.S. Customs and Border Protection to patrol United States borders since 2005, and the agency currently owns 10 UAVs [21] with plans to use armed drones.
Drones, in general are highly appealing to the police because UAVs can reach places that your local police can’t.  That can range from a place too high to climb or a position simply too dangerous for an officer to put himself or herself in.  In addition, drones can capture footage for days, provided the storage capacity of the drive is large enough.  That can allow law enforcement to tend to other things, while the UAV takes care of recording valuable footage.
Knox’s plans are to purchase a DJI drone which would cost between $20,000 and $23,000.
Sheriff Knox is a licensed UAV pilot, however, he does intend for his officers to be licensed as well.
For those who feel the use of an UAV is an invasion of personal privacy, the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) in 2012 published a list of recommended guidelines for use of UAVs in law enforcement. Endorsed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), its recommendations include the following:
Police should obtain warrants to use drones where subjects have a reasonable expectation of privacy.
·Police should not retain images captured by drones unless they are relevant to a crime.
·Police should give the public meaningful notice of drone use.
·Use of drones by police should be subject to tracking and audits, with accountability for misuse.
· Police should not use weaponized drones.
The Friends of the Benton County Sheriff’s Office are currently holding various fundraisers to help with the purchase of the BCSO drone. They are also setting up a "Dollars for Drones" Go Fund Me page as well as searching for possible funds through grants and foundations. To donate or for more information about the Friends of the Benton County Sheriff's Office you can find them on Facebook or email them at
    “I am going to make this happen,” Knox said.