Cayuga County Sheriff: Drones are ‘a life saver, crime solver and great in court'

The Cayuga County Sheriff's Office already has a fleet of drones and an operator to use them—they’re even loaning them out to other law enforcement departments.

Last week, a woman was found dead on a trail in Cato. State Police are trying to piece together the series of events that led to the woman’s death, so they used a drone to cover the scene from every angle.

"I talked to the State Police and asked what they wanted from the drone and we went into a small area to capture video which some person could not do,” said David Harkness, a drone operator at the Cayuga Co. Sheriff’s Office.

15-years in law enforcement, and now Harkness decided to become licensed to fly these unmanned aircrafts and has put in a great deal of training to learn how to best utilize the office's drones in almost every circumstance.

"We tracked an ATV through a cornfield, again for the State Police, we were able to locate the stolen ATV and also provide cover for the K9 officers,” Harkness.

Drones are a lot easier and cheaper than using one of the very few police helicopters in the region.

"This does the same thing, almost identical that a helicopter will do.  In fact, we can stay up there longer,” said Sheriff Dave Gould.

The Sheriff's Office, which first started using them a couple years ago, now has four back ups and two main unmanned machines.

The latest drones have cameras on gyroscope, infrared camera, and hi-definition video.

"It is a life saver, it is a crime solver and it is great in court,” Gould said,

A number of other police agencies in the area say they are looking into getting a drone for their own use.

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