Drone helps catch man who ran from police in Granite Falls

Drone used to help law enforcement

GRANITE FALLS, NC (WBTV) - Almost two years ago when an old mill burned in Granite Falls, fire officials say finding hot spots as the blaze lingered was difficult. What they needed, they thought, was a drone with an infrared camera that could spot the hot spots.

Turns out, they said, the drone has even more uses than they imagined. Not only has it helped in fires, but also surveillance for police, mapping out crime scenes and helping when people go missing.

Wednesday night, officers had responded to an illegal dumping call behind a local church. They spotted a car and began talking with the people inside. One man jumped out and ran into a 6-acre wooded area.

“We had to find out what was going on,” said Police Chief Chris Jenkins.

Finding the man, though, would be difficult at night. It would have required a lot of manpower, he said. Instead, they brought in Fire Scout. That’s what the Fire Department’s drone has been named.

Using it’s heat-seeking camera, the drone spotted the man in the woods hiding under some brush. Officers who had walked right past him without spotting him were redirected back to the hiding place and the man was arrested. Dexton Banner is charged with resist, obstruct, and delay and more charges are possible.

“Technology is amazing,” said Fire Chief Brian Bennett.

He says new uses are being discovered all the time. Since the drone can lift up to 15 pounds, it might even be used in water rescues by dropping life vests, he said.

“It’s a great asset to have," said Jenkins.

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