Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings shows off drones - FOX 35 News Orlando

Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings shows off drones

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ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. (WOFL FOX 35 ORLANDO) -

Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings gave the public a look at the two new drones his office purchased.  The Sheriff said the drones will not be used to invade anyone's privacy.

"This is not about intrusion.  We certainly will protect anyone's right to privacy," he explained.

He believes the public knows so little about drones and their use that people are confused.

"As you can see, it's not a military drone. I t does not have the ability to fire weapons or do any of those things, and I believe it probably has misconceptions about what it's capabilities really are."

The drones are most comparable to a remote control helicopter that you might buy at a hobby store. They are limited in range and height. Sheriff Demings says they will not be used for routine patrols, only in special situations.

"We're using this in life saving measures to assist us in being able to get a closer look at a situation where there's an armed person perhaps.  Perhaps, it's a bomb situation. Perhaps, it's a chemical spill or something like that."

Often times, the drones have the ability to go where a helicopter can not, and where it would be unsafe for a deputy to go.  At the media event, the drone went to take a look at a potential bomb situation.

"We would likely be using this in a space where a normal aircraft could not go. Lets say if there's a tree canopy we need to get up under the tree canopy to take a closer look at something, then we would use it in those situations."

Demings justified the $50,000 cost by saying that a federal grant paid for the drones, and that worker's compensation claims for injured deputies often rise above that amount.

"We're trying to save lives, and if we save just one life with using this, then it is well worth the money."

The U.S. Senate is considering a bill that would ban the use of drones in Florida, but Sheriff Demings said that bill should not affect them, especially if a few minor tweaks are made.

"Precisely the language that has been offered up from the Legislature at this point, would allow us to do exactly what you have seen us do, and what we said we would use it to do today."

The Orange County Sheriff's Office hopes to deploy the drones by June.

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