Ohio sheriff’s office ditching its helicopter in favor of drones

“Helicopters are becoming flying dinosaurs,” said Sheriff Charmaine McGuffey

By Ashley Silver

CINCINNATI — To keep pace with advancing technology and restructure operational costs, the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office is moving away from police helicopters and turning to police drones to assist with crime response and prevention.

Local 12 News reported there are benefits and drawbacks to this new transition, with costs and mobility playing large roles in the changes. The Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office makes a good case for why drones have become the new aircraft of choice for its agency. Drones can covertly analyze a scene without emitting noise and are easily carried from place to place.

“Helicopters are, right now, they’re becoming flying dinosaurs,” Hamilton Sheriff Charmaine McGuffey told county commissioners according to Local 12 News. She went on to say the choppers cost the county $3 million a year, while 15 drones will only cost $300,000 and require little maintenance.

The sheriff also informed commissioners that one of the department’s choppers currently needs around $300,000 worth of maintenance. They can instead sell the helicopter for around $2 million because of an increase in value over time.

Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office’s Cpl. Matthew McGourty did acknowledge there are certain limits to what a drone can do when speaking to Local 12 News.

When the news station prodded the sheriff by saying, “Dropping off K9 units, dropping off SWAT units on top of rooftops… you can’t do that with drones,” McGourty responded saying, “They can’t carry personnel. They can’t deploy personnel, but they do make up for it in other ways.”

The sheriff said that when physical pursuits are called off for public safety reasons, drones will have a key role in locating suspects.

RELATED: Why drones may be the next big thing in fighting rural crime

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