Broward Sheriff's Office begins using drones for rescue missions, identifying suspects

Drones not used for surveillance, authorities say

BROWARD COUNTY, Fla. – The Broward Sheriff's Office has been testing drones since September, but now it is officially beginning to use them in day-to-day work in Broward County.

Unmanned aerial systems, or drones, as they’re more commonly called, are used for everything from real estate to sporting events. And now, BSO is officially rolling out its UAS Unit to help keep the community safe.

"These drones or UAS are solely for public safety -- for rescue missions and identifying suspects of crimes," Lt. Jeff Cirminiello said. 

In September 2017, deputies began testing the program, and now, about a year later, they have 29 drones in their fleet and 25 deputies certified to operate them.

"It gives us rapid deployment -- immediate rapid deployment. So basically, we are going to provide our deputies on the road and our fire rescue personnel the ability to immediately get aerial support," Cirminiello said. 

In that year of testing, BSO and Broward Sheriff Fire Rescue have already used the drones countless times, including at last weekend's Stonewall Pride Festival, to keep an eye on the crowds. 

The full setup, including drone, batteries, a carrying case and other equipment costs the agency about $3,000 per deputy who is given one.

Authorities said the drones are not used for surveillance.

About the Author:

Ian Margol joined the Local 10 News team in July 2016 as a general assignment reporter. Born in Miami Beach and raised in Broward County, Ian is thrilled to be back home in South Florida.