Pueblo County Law Enforcement takes bird’s eye view on crime

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PUEBLO, Colo. — Law enforcement in Pueblo County is changing its view on crime – literally.

The new S.O.A.R.R. (Sheriff’s Office Aerial Response and Rescue) Team allows the Sheriff’s Office to use unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) – or drones – for certain calls in the county.

“We are pleased to bring this advancing technology to the Pueblo County Sheriff’s Office,” said Pueblo County Sheriff Kirk M. Taylor. “We are looking forward to the benefits the UAVs are going to bring us in conducting searches, helping with rescues and with the mapping of crime scenes and serious traffic accidents. This is going to be a tremendous asset to Pueblo County as well as our surrounding counties.”

The 13-member S.O.A.R.R. Team has been training for more than a year to pilot the four uniquely different models of UAVs purchased with a $30,000 Department of Homeland Security grant. The DHS grant was awarded to Pueblo County as part of the South Region, which consists of five counties including Fremont, Huerfano, Custer and Las Animas. The equipment is considered a regional asset, which means the PCSO S.O.A.R.R. Team can be deployed anywhere in the region at the request of the County Sheriff.

“The S.O.A.R.R. Team has been a vision for the Pueblo County Sheriff’s Office for many years. There are so many things that can be done with the UAVs from a law enforcement perspective but our primary mission will be public safety,” said Captain Steve Bryant.

The S.O.A.R.R. Team has two fixed-wing aircraft and six rotary UAVs.

A pilot and a visual observer will be assigned to each deployment. The observer is responsible for alerting the pilot to any obstacles or circumstances that may interfere with the flight path.

Several of the UAVs will be assigned to patrol personnel who will keep the aircraft in their vehicles, making their deployment in the field for things such as searching for a lost hiker or mapping the boundary of a wildland fire much faster and more efficient.

“This technology is the wave of the future in law enforcement,” said Captain Bryant.

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