Ocean Pines - An elderly missing persons report on Thursday, March 28 provided the Ocean Pines Police Department the opportunity to use their new drone for the first time. In this case, a miscommunication among family members meant the drone was not needed. However, its potential was on full display. "With the elderly community we have here sometimes people wonder off," PFC Jennifer DiGiovanni said. "It is a good way to be able to cover more of an area by having a drone available to us."
A 10% increase in service calls from 2017 - 2018 led to the idea of the Ocean Pines Police Department obtaining a drone. A state grant was approved last fall and by the end of 2018 the drone was on-site in the Worcester County community. It was not until a few months later when one of the members of the department became certified that the drone was able to be utilized in an official role.
In addition to providing an "eye in the sky" for those missing person cases, the drone is an asset in the pursuit of fleeing criminal suspects. With it's camera, the drone operator can digitally tag the person on the move. The drone can then follow the person on the move without the need of a controller.
"If a suspect were to bail out on us in a car or in a breaking and entering situation, we will be able to track a larger area," Police Chief Dave Massey said.