Blaine Police Department launches new drone


The Blaine Police Department purchased a drone equipped with video and thermal imaging capabilities, all thanks to donations made by local businesses and foundations. 

The drone, which was purchased in September 2023 for a total of $16,250, was funded by donations made to the department’s now defunct K9 unit, officer Keith Olson wrote The Northern Light in an email.

Olson is BPD’s primary drone operator, and said the new piece of equipment has already been used on multiple occasions to assist officers. The drone has helped find fleeing suspects, locate trespassers on BNSF Railway tracks, and even search for a black bear and two cubs, Olson wrote.

“Rather than try to confirm on foot if there was a bear and two cubs and risk getting mauled, we were able to respond to the area and determine it was in fact two deer,” Olson wrote.

The drone will also help police search for vulnerable adults and missing children, as well as provide safety assistance during large events.

The ability to have eyes in the sky without helicopters or assistance from other agencies is a huge step forward for officer safety and efficiency, Olson wrote. The drone can fly in most weather conditions, including moderately high winds, and comes with a loudspeaker as a form of one-way communication with suspects or people in distress.

“For citizens involved with search and rescue events, the goal is to find them sooner to get them out of danger faster,” Olson wrote. “Trying to find someone on foot whether it’s on a mountain side or they’re out in the ocean is already difficult as is. With the assistance of the drone, we increase our search capabilities to help those already working on the ground.”

Olson said BPD has not received any noise complaints about the drone, and that the machine is often quieter than passing cars and trains. 


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