New SWARM drones to aid Henry County Police

Special to the Times

The Henry County Police Department (HCPD) is making big strides in public safety and service to the community with its newly added drone program called the SWARM (Special Wide Angle Reconnaissance Mitigation) Unit.

The Henry County Police Department obtained authorization and certification from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in October of 2017, naming Henry County one of the first organizations in the state of Georgia to receive permission to operate drones as a public entity.

L. to r.: Chief Pilot and Training Officer Allen Harmon, Captain and Commanding Officer Vance Rosen and Lieutenant and Second Command Woody Fowler. Special photo

The use of drone technology allows officers to record and take still photos of wreck and fatality scenes. It also allows officers to search for missing people and runaways more efficiently and safely from the air with a wide range view.

Captain and Commanding Officer of the SWARM Unit, Vance Rosen explained the purpose of the new drone unit.

“We want to utilize the most cost effective assets at our disposal in order to provide the best service that we can to the county,” said Rosen. “We have a need for aviation style units, and helicopter units are cost prohibitive. Implementing this drone unit is a way for us to get eyes in the air to scan greater areas to find what we are looking for.”

Police officials say that operating a drone program with licensed and experienced pilots is highly effective yet cost efficient. Utilizing Federal Seized Assets and Forfeiture funds, the HCPD purchased two drones, including a DJI Phantom 3, which is equipped with an HD digital camera and a Maxsur Seeker that has the capacity to detect body heat with a thermal camera, for approximately $15,000.

“The time it takes to get helicopter air coverage through mutual aid is often prohibitive,” said Rosen. “Weather is always a factor, but barring bad weather and given a qualified pilot we can have a drone or drones up in minutes.”

Chief Pilot and Training Officer, Allen Harmon will be instructing approximately 20 officers, who will undergo FAA classroom, online, and on-site training that consists of flight safety and working in the field.

With the help of the new SWARM Unit, the Henry County Police Department continues to stay committed to ensure the safety of all its citizens.

For more information on the Henry County Police Department, please visit www.henry