OPPD to Use Drone for Missing Person Searches

The Ocean Pines Police Department can now put an eye in the sky when surveying the area for reported missing residents.

An officer who doubles as a drone-certified pilot used a newly purchased drone on Thursday, March 28 to assist with the search of a missing 79-year-old woman. That’s one of many uses Chief Dave Massey sees for it.

“Now we also can utilize the technology to locate offenders who decide to flee from the police for criminal offenses,” said Massey. “The bonus to our community is that through a grant from the Governor’s Office of Crime Control & Prevention of Maryland we were able to acquire the drone, it did not cost our residents any additional expense.”

Massey said the police department had two separate incidents of missing persons recently within the same week.

“There’s a large retirement population in Ocean Pines and the police department deals with its share of elderly residents with dementia who walk off and are reported missing,” said Sawyer, marketing and public relations director for the Ocean Pines Association. “These residents need to be found quickly, which is capable with the help of the new unmanned aircraft system.”

Sawyer said the drone has a transmission system with a 4.3-mile range, five vision sensors, and a 4K camera stabilized by a 3-axis mechanical gimbal.

“Ocean Pines Police are leveraging new technology, like the Mavic Pro Drone, to be even more responsive,” said Sawyer. “This as we have seen an uptick in service calls in the largest residential community in the County.”

The 2018 year-end Ocean Pines Police report, released Feb. 11, shows that there was a 10 percent increase in calls from 2017 to 2018 – from 12,277 calls in 2017 to 13,589 in 2018 – which represents the largest number of calls for service workload on record.

“Service calls can be a variety of incidents, such as criminal complaints, checking on the welfare of our residents, mental health checks, residential property checks and even assisting our local residents when they accidentally lock their vehicles,” Massey said.

Ocean Pines has a state-certified, full-service police agency that operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week. All sworn officers attend 23 weeks of intensive police training at the Eastern Shore Criminal Justice Academy in Salisbury. Upon graduation, all officers are certified by the Maryland Police Training Commission.

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