TCSO drone training complete; awaiting FAA clearance

Tippecanoe County Sheriff's Office trains to use a drone (WLFI)
Tippecanoe County Sheriff's Office trains to use a drone (WLFI)

TIPPECANOE COUNTY, Ind. (WLFI) – The Tippecanoe County Sheriff’s Office will soon have an extra eye in the sky after its new drone is cleared by the Federal Aviation Administration.

TCSO submitted its final paperwork to the FAA two weeks ago, after six deputies completed their drone training through Skyfire Consulting.

“We’ll be able to get to places a lot quicker, a lot easier,” said Tippecanoe County Lt. Tom Lehman. “It’s just going to be a good tool.”

Lehman said he can think of several ways the new drone is going to help.

“Children lost in the woods or Alzheimer’s patients that wonder away,” Lehman explained.

Law enforcement drones are also useful for hazardous material spills and large fires.

“You don’t have to actually risk a firefighter’s life to go and walk around that building, and potentially put themselves in danger,” said Skyfire Consulting CEO Matt Sloane.

He said flying the drone is the easy part.

“What you really have to be concerned about when you’re flying, particularly in an emergency scene, is being aware of all of the other aircraft that are around you,” said Sloane.

Lehman agreed.

“It’s mind-blowing the amount of information that you have to know when you get into a busier airspace,” said Lehman.

Skyfire only taught FAA requirements and how to properly operate the drones, everything else is left to local government.

“If they are using it for anything law enforcement-related, it’s up to the state and the local municipality to decide if they need a warrant to do that,” said Sloane.

But whether local governments allow it hasn’t stopped technology from advancing.

“What’s really nice about this drone is you’ve got the retractable landing gear so you can actually attach a drop system to it,” said Sloane. “So if you want to drop a radio to a hostage taker or drop a life jacket to someone who is struggling in the water, you could do that.”

The possibilities seem endless and Lt. Lehman is ready to start exploring them.

“It’s a lot of fun and it’s kind of groundbreaking for us,” said Lehman.

Skyfire Consulting trains law enforcement agencies all over the country and used Tippecanoe County as a central location to not only train TCSO deputies but personnel from the Clinton County Sheriff’s Office and Carmel police and fire departments as well.