Special Weather Statement issued December 06 at 3:40AM EST by NWS Wilmington (details ...)
...AREAS OF FOG THIS MORNING... Areas of fog and drizzle have developed over the area this morning. Visibility may be reduced to less than a mile at times. These conditions will persist into the late morning and may impact the morning commute for some locations. If traveling, be prepared for fog that could suddenly reduce visibilities. Slow down and allow extra time to reach your destination.
37° 37° chance Tue 48° Tue 48° patchy 41° 41° chance Wed 50° Wed 50°
Saturday, November 19th, 2016

Celina police to add drone

By William Kincaid
CELINA - The city's police department is poised to become the second Mercer County law enforcement agency to purchase a drone to assist with investigations.
"It's another tool in the toolbox," mayor Jeff Hazel said at this week's regular council meeting. "If we're looking for somebody that wanders away into a field or we would have somebody that was armed that got into a field, it allows us to do things to keep our officers from risk and that's why we would look at that."
City council members this week passed first reading of an ordinance authorizing city safety service director Tom Hitchcock to advertise for bids in 2017 and enter into contracts for engineering services, city projects and capital equipment.
"The capital equipment that you'll find in this ordinance is actually part of the budget itself," Hazel said.
Among the capital equipment purchases for next year is a drone with forward-looking infrared and video recording capabilities, listed at $18,000.
Councilman Myron Buxton asked about the line item, noting it's the first time he had seen the drone in the budget.
Hazel replied that the drone had been discussed at a personnel and finance meeting. He pointed to an incident in June - in which the Auglaize County Sheriff's Office brought in its drone to take aerial photos of an area surrounding a wheat field near state Route 29 where the body of a motorcyclist was found - as a motivating factor for purchasing a drone.
Hazel told the newspaper the drone will be used mostly for search operations involving missing people or suspects at large. Though it might aid in investigations into drug activity, the drone will generally not be used for surveillance, Hazel said.
"We're not Big Brother," he said. "Under my watch we'll never do that."
The drone's forward-looking infrared camera can detect heat signatures of bodies, allowing for night deployment. It also has a camera that feeds back into a computer for live viewing.
Other new items requested this year by police chief Tom Wale are supplemental body armors and helmets for each officer, estimated to cost $24,000, according to city auditor Betty Strawn. All officers wear bulletproof vests while on duty.
The new supplemental armor, which Hazel described as modeled steel for the chest cavity, would be used during standoffs or emergencies in which officers are targeted. The vests can withstand rifle fire, Hazel said.
Officers will carry the armor and helmets in their cruisers at all times.
In September, Mercer County commissioners approved Sheriff Jeff Grey's request to purchase a drone. Grey's office had been borrowing drones from other counties to assist with investigations since the beginning of the year. But he wanted the drone primarily to help with traffic crash reconstruction by taking aerial photos and video footage.
The 12-inch drone cost $1,581 and came with a camera. Grey, who had noted he's not keen on drone surveillance, said the device would be used mostly to help reconstruct traffic accidents as well as to search for missing people and seek out suspected drug cultivation.
His drone did not include infrared recording. Grey said the county could always upgrade later if the need for infrared arose.
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