Adam Lawson Gazette staff GazetteLawson
Joe Ramey watched as, one after the other, stealthy high-flying drones hovered over a Dallas park.
Twelve years ago, Ramey was an assistant chief when Gaston County Police became the first North Carolina law enforcement agency to dispatch an unmanned flying aircraft to the sky. The ones flown as part of a Department of Transportation workshop Wednesday, though, bore little resemblance to the CyberBug, a fixed-wing heavy aircraft used sparingly before police retired it under a mountain of Federal Aviation Administration paperwork.
“It didn’t have the camera capabilities that these have,” said Ramey, now Gaston County’s police chief. “It didn’t have the ability to steady itself. It was more of a moving, fixed-wing drone. These can hover, hang out for a while. And the flight time was limited.”
The purpose of the workshop was to showcase what these newfangled drones can do and how they can benefit an emergency response agency.
Police officers from dozens of departments across the state, along with firefighters and paramedics, were on hand as the unmanned aircraft were sent to