Sheriff's new drone initiative aims to cut crime in Shawnee Co.

TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - The Shawnee County Sheriff's Office is looking to cut crime rates with a new drone initiative.

Monday night the first public meeting about the initiative was held at Seaman High School, explaining the finer points of the plan.

"It's just another tool to do proactive policing ... I think this is probably where things are going to be honest with you," said Sheriff Brian Hill.

The point of this program is to deter crime - specifically burglaries and vehicle thefts.

The sheriff's office says since 2017, they've seen a 21% increase in those types of crimes and they hope this will help cut back.

The sheriffs office says they've already been using drones to map crime scenes and aid in searches, but now they're kicking it up a notch with three new drones and six new drone pilots.

The new initiative will use drones to keep watch over public roads and paths in areas with higher rates of crimes.

It won't be 24/7 flying though, the sheriff's office has looked at the data and plans to do this during peak times of criminal activity.

"Any time we can deploy it to get an alternate perspective to keep everybody safe ... I think everybody's on board with that," said Deputy Matt Akers, one of the eight drone pilots.

The approach is already landing big results.

"People called in, they believe they had a house that was broken into, and vandalized and our drone pilots were able to keep an eye on it, they were actually able to do a flyover and make an arrest on that," Hill said.

"Years ago we had a helicopter, it was comforting to know that the chopper was above you. It could light up a city block, it could heat signature out, the drones kinda give us that capability back."

The next public meeting to discuss the drone initiative will be held August 19th at 6:00 p.m. at Shawnee Heights.

A third meeting will be held August 20th at 6:00 p.m. at Washburn Rural Middle School.