• 61°

VPD to use new drone system to fight city crime

By the end of the year, the Vicksburg Police Department will have an eye in the sky.

The Board of Mayor and Aldermen Tuesday accepted a Federal Aviation Administration certificate of authorization allowing the police department to conduct public aircraft operations at or below 400 feet altitude.

Mayor George Flaggs Jr. said he supports the department getting the drone.

“I think they are absolutely to be commended,” he said. “Anytime they can get another tool that the city of Vicksburg can use to prevent crime and monitor crime that’s absolutely good news.

Police Chief Milton Moore said the department expects to purchase the drone by the close of the fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30.

Acquiring the drone will put the police department in some select company. Four other law enforcement agencies in Mississippi, including Adams County and Madison, are using drones.

“We’ll be able to use the drone for crowd control at festivals like Riverfest and the flea market, to check out suspicious people or vehicles, or to survey an area and make sure it’s safe before sending an officer in,” Moore said.

Moore said four officers, Jeff Merritt, Lt. Mike Bryant, Lt. Leonce Young and Hung Nguyen have received their training and certification after attending a class on flying drones in Natchez.

“We have a practice drone they can fly now so they can get used to flying a drone,” he said.

In another police matter, the board approved a 60 cents per hour raise in the base pay for entry level police officers, going from $14.15 per hour to $14.75 per hour.

“Hopefully, we can attract and recruit more officers with that pay increase,” Moore said.

Moore said the police department will be holding an entry level exam for people interested in being police officers in the fall. He said he has five candidates waiting to complete final checks, including background checks, and the department has two cadets at the Mississippi Law Enforcement Training Academy.

“We hope we can have some ready to go to the academy in September,” he said.