CHIPPEWA COUNTY, Wis. (WEAU) -- As Wisconsin departments are among the top three states using camera-equipped drones, officials in Chippewa County are taking advantage of this technology.
Drones are becoming an everyday tool for law enforcement. The Chippewa County Sheriff’s department is adding a second drone to its team. Sheriff Jim Kowalczyk says the department's new drone is a tool, not a toy. Thanks to a generous donation from a local organization, he says its improving the way deputies do their jobs.
The sheriff’s department here in Chippewa, was one of the first counties to purchase and utilize a drone and that was about three and a half, four years ago,” said Kowalczyk. The department’s newest drone has thermal technology, a fresh feature for deputies. "For night-time location of a person, that thermal imaging is going to be a very valuable piece of equipment,” he said.
Kowalcyk says their drones have a wide range of uses. From accident reconstruction to locating missing people, the technology gives deputies an advantage and helps keep them safe in dangerous situations.
The department’s new remote-controlled aircraft is worth around $10,000. The Lake Wissota Lions Club donated the funds from their annual golf tournament for the purchase of the drone. "We hope in the future we can help out in other ways again and our goal along with this tournament not only with the sheriff's department but we're looking at other emergency services that we can give our funds to," said Bill Korger, President of the Lake Wissota Lions Club.
Sheriff Kowalcyk says when the state makes funding cuts, law enforcement agencies are often hit hard. He says support of this magnitude is much needed and appreciated. Korger says it’s important to support public safety officials. "We know the drug impact has gotten a lot worse here, especially in Chippewa County…we know that their funds get stretched so thin," he said.
Kowalczyk says the department also allows other agencies to utilize their two drones when requested. Last year, the Lion’s Club helped the Chippewa County Sheriff’s department purchase a new K9.
The organization says it will continue to contribute in the future.