BARNEGAT, NJ – Any superhero will admit they sometimes wish they have eyes in the sky. For the Barnegat Police Department, it’s not so farfetched a notion. The local law enforcement agency just took ownership of its very own drone.
“I see this as another giant step towards efficiency, safety, and professionalism,” shared Mayor John Novak. “Barnegat acquired the drone at no cost because of a grant.”
The DJI Matrice-210 drone has both a camera and thermal imaging capabilities and normally comes with a price tag of approximately $20K. Novak, a former state trooper, illustrated just one of the ways he envisioned the local police department making use of the drone.
“If you’re a bad guy and you’re hiding in the marsh, we’ll find you,” Novak warned. “You’re giving off a thermal signature, which the drone will see.”
Novak regularly sings the praises of the township’s police department and its record in apprehending criminals. He sees the drone as yet another means of protecting and serving the public.
The benefits of the drone acquisition don’t just relate to crime. It will also be handy in locating people who get lost in the woods. Drones are used to document accident scenes and situational awareness at large events.
“It’s going to allow us to provide a much-needed service quicker,” said Barnegat Police Chief Keith Germain. “We see it as a great value when there are concerns about a missing child or person with dementia.”
Up until now, the police department relied on New Jersey State Police for aerial lookovers with helicopters. However, the acquisition of the drone addresses the immediacy of the need. It also may be used to coordinate efforts with bloodhounds for suspects and missing persons.
According to Germain, four officers have been schooled on the operation of the drone. Others will also receive training on it. The police department also has a Mavic drone, which has far less capabilities.