OLIVIA, Minn. (KEYC) — The Renville County Board of Commissioners is now accepting public comments regarding the potential purchase and/or current and past uses of unmanned aerial systems (UAS), which is otherwise known as a drone.
During the 2020 regular legislative session, the Minnesota Legislature established Minnesota State Statute 626.19, which requires the Renville County Board of Commissioners to provide an opportunity for public comment prior to the sheriff’s office purchasing or use of a drone.
The Renville County Sheriff’s Office began assembling a UAS program in 2017 and was one of the first law enforcement agencies from greater Minnesota to use the technology.
The RCSO acquired two drones shortly after creating the UAS program. One of the drones would be primarily used for training purposes, while the other would be used for operations, as it was equipped with an infrared, thermal imaging camera, which can be used for locating people or animals via heat signatures.
After acquiring the drones, RCSO applied and received a certificate of authorization to use the drones from the Federal Aviation Administration. The certificate of authorization also exempts RCSO from certain FAA regulations during emergencies.
Since RCSO received authorization to use the drones in the field, it has successfully completed several UAS missions in Renville County, and also while assisting emergencies in neighboring counties.
To date, the Renville County Sheriff’s Office has deployed its drone to assist with searches for lost, missing, or otherwise endangered persons, searches for fugitives and missing persons, assisting with locating missing livestock, documenting damage following severe weather events and various public displays and demonstrations.
To comply with the recently established law, the Renville County Board of Commissioners will accept public comments regarding the Renville County Sheriff’s Office’s acquisition and/or use of its drones.
In-person comments can be made at 10 a.m. Tuesday, Nov. 24, during the Renville County Board of Commissioners meeting in Suite 313 at the Renville County Government Services Center.
Comments can also be made electronically and by mail until 9 a.m. Tuesday, Nov. 24.
Questions can be directed to Sheriff Scott Hable by calling (320) 523-3771 or by sending an email to ScottH@renvillecountymn.com.