Rochester Police Department requests drone program as part of 20 - KXLT - Fox 47 Rochester MN News, Weather, Sports #rochmn

Rochester Police Department requests drone program as part of 2017 budget

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ROCHESTER, Minn. (FOX 47) -

Budget talks continue for next year among Rochester City Council, and at Wednesday afternoon's Committee of the Whole meeting, an overview for 2017 was discussed, as well as requests from different departments in our city.

A request by the Rochester Police Department for a $72,400 drone program seemed to be the hottest topic.

Included in that amount is the drone itself, as well as supported equipment, such as recorders, software, data storage, and more.

Also included is training from the FAA for officers to get the licensing required to pilot the drone.

As of now, only two officers would be able to pilot a drone, should the department go through with the program.

Chief Roger Peterson said there have been many requests for adding this type of equipment, most notably stemming from a number of incidents in locating missing vulnerable people in cold and inclement weather.

"The capabilities and the immediate accessibility, in terms of responding to those type of incidents where somebody's life may be in jeopardy and we have to find them quickly, that's really what the program is predicated on," explained Chief Peterson.

City Council President Randy Staver said he's not sure he can be on board quite yet, as he doesn't think the drone usage amount would justify the cost of operations.

RPD plans to make a list of specifics, as well as specific costs, to present to council in the near future, in hopes of approval of bringing a drone program to the department.

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