Northwest Florida State College’s Police Department launches drone unit

A drone use by the Northwest Florida State College Police Department hovers over the treetops adjacent to campus.

NICEVILLE, FL – Northwest Florida State College’s Police Department is proud to announce the launch of a drone unit. NWF State College is one of only four colleges in the nation with an active law enforcement drone team per a new study from Bard College’s Center. The same study found there are only 38 active law enforcement agencies in Florida that utilize drones.

NWF State College Police Chief Aaron Murray said that the drone program was the direct result of a need he recognized in the area. The drone unit can also offer aerial support to other local law enforcement agencies.

“We are looking for ways to save lives and create a safer environment for everyone to live, work and learn in,” Murray said. “As technologies change and become available like drones, we try to utilize them to be better at what we do.”

NWF State College currently has four FAA certified pilots and the use of four drones. The drones, or Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS), are all equipped with high-definition cameras, thermal imagers and the ability to attach chemical canisters such as pepper spray to deter suspects.

“The drones are utilized for missing persons or for assisting law enforcement with safer searches when suspects have evaded visual contact,” Murray said. “A UAS allows us to get a bird’s-eye view with real-time information helping to identify an individual’s location.”

NWF State College was recently recognized as the safest college campus in Florida and the addition of drone technology will only help to maintain that safety quality.

“We are proud to be on the forefront of college safety and security with our drone response program,” said Dr. Devin Stephenson, president of NWF State College. “This program further demonstrates our commitment to expand collaboration with external agencies in the region as well as continue our current recognition as the safest college in Florida.”

Link to YouTube Drone video

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