MANCHESTER, NH — One month after the formation of Manchester Police Department’s Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) unit, more commonly referred to as a Drone Unit, officers were able to use a drone in response to a call for a distressed woman who had run into the woods. The operation deemed a “huge success,” by Police Chief Carlo Capano.
At approximately 4:40 p.m. on Dec. 10 Manchester Police responded to Derryfield Park to follow up on a suicidal person report. Eye-witness told officers they saw a woman run into the woods. It was already dark at this time so officers used cruiser lights to look into the woods, but the area was too large to search by foot.
Officer Joseph Tucker, a certified drone pilot, was called in to conduct an area survey with the drone. Using thermal imaging, Officer Tucker was able to locate a small thermal (heated) spot on the eastern side of the park, near the tower. The drone hovered over the spot while officers walked through the woods to its location. They found the woman lying on the ground, unharmed.
Capano said it was Officer Tucker who sold him on the usefulness of adding a drone unit to the police department.
“Officer Tucker gave a presentation detailing the benefits of having such a unit. I was immediately sold on the idea, but this incident reaffirms my belief that this resource will be a valuable tool for the Manchester Police Department. We are fortunate to have the technology and the expertise of Officer Tucker which allowed us to successfully locate the woman last night and bring her to safety,” Capano said.
Manchester’s Drone Unit was created approximately a month ago. It is comprised of 10 officers who will fly the drones and two supervisors. Most of the newly-selected officers are still being trained and have yet to be certified.
According to the police department, drones are an efficient and effective way of providing officers with critical information to conduct criminal investigations and respond to calls for service and emergency situations.
Associated costs of equipment and training were not immediately available, according to police spokeswoman Heather Hamel.