Pace, Armstrong smart to let others go first with drone technology

Published 9:47 am Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Many times, particularly when it comes to new technology, letting others take the lead is a wise decision.

That’s exactly what Warren County Sheriff Martin Pace and Vicksburg Police Chief Walter Armstrong have done in relation to the growing trend of purchasing drones to aid in law enforcement activities.

Drones are unmanned aircraft, and are all the rage these days. It was the single most requested Christmas gift in 2015 among men. Jeff Bezos wants to find a way to use drones to assist in the delivery of goods purchased from his company, Amazon. Realtors have been using them for a while to create videos of properties for sale, though new FAA regulations may have curtailed that.

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And, we bet they are a lot of fun to fly, too.

But in today’s tight economic restraints, purchasing the drone and training officers to operate it just aren’t a priority here, and rightly so.

Even though new regulations governing who and how drones can be operated have put a number of restrictions on them, several other counties in Mississippi have made different decisions. Prentiss, Adams and Rankin counties have each become certified in the use of drones in law enforcement, but exactly how they will help out isn’t clear.

The new FAA requirements include about 20 hours of paperwork and each department certified would have to demonstrate how they will use them. Adams County’s sheriff said the drones may come in handy to survey large crowds or when his department needs to get a closer look at something without endangering deputies.

We bet within a few years, a number of practical uses for drones by law enforcement officers will become evident. However, we don’t think such is the best use of taxpayer funds right now.

We applaud Pace and Armstrong for allowing others to take the lead with drone technology and being prepared to learn from others’ initial experiences with them.