The City of Oak Ridge wants to buy three drones for the Oak Ridge Police Department and Oak Ridge Fire Department.
The drones could minimize risks to emergency responders, according to a city memo. Drones could help officers and firefighters perform dangerous tasks such as responding to reports of armed people and other imminent threats, and evaluating fires and hazardous material incidents, the city said. Drones could also help with searches for lost people, which are often impeded by dense vegetation or delayed while waiting for all-terrain vehicles or boats.
“A drone can perform these tasks without delay and without placing responders at risk,” the memo said.
The drones could be used for aerial observation and intelligence collection, the memo said.
The city has recommended that the Oak Ridge City Council in a meeting this evening (Monday, May 10) approve a roughly $57,000 contract with Rocky Mountain Unmanned Systems LLC for the three drones. Training will be provided and include the fundamentals of aviation, federal aviation regulations, public aircraft operations, safety management systems, community concerns about the use of drones by government agencies, state and local laws, and legal and liability issues, the memo said.
It said the purchase price of the drones, accessories, and training will be fully covered with grant funds provided by the U.S. Department of Energy Oak Ridge Police Department Police Response Enhancement grant. The equipment was pre-approved by DOE grant officials, the memo said.
You can see the agenda item for the City Council meeting here.