The 104th Precinct Civilian Observation Patrol (104COP) is taking to the skies with its newest piece of equipment, a Phantom 3 Advanced quad-copter.
The quad-copter is an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) that can be remotely piloted from the ground. Mark Pearson, president of 104COP, gave the Ridgewood Times a demonstration of the quad-copter and its abilities at Juniper Valley Park in Middle Village on Aug. 7.
“The number one reason we got it was to help when searching for missing persons, especially children,” Pearson said. “One of our members suggested getting one and I thought it would be a great opportunity to help find missing children.”
The UAV has a wide range of features that can be useful in finding missing persons or criminals on the run from police.
The quad-copter is equipped with a 1080p high-definition 12 megapixel camera. The image from the camera can be broadcasted directly to the user’s smartphone through a downloadable app so the operator can see exactly what the UAV is pointed at. The user can also take photos and video of the quad-copter’s flight with their smartphone.
The device has the ability to fly just above a mile in any direction before losing connection to the remote. Pearson said that this specific model has safety limits built into it, restricting the UAV to only 400 feet, in accordance with Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) guidelines.
“In residential areas, like this one, you have to be aware of power lines,” Pearson said. “You always have to fly above the power lines. Putting it up high is not really useful to us, as you can’t see much on the ground from higher distances.”
Another handy feature of the quad-copter is the home point feature, which allows the device to automatically return to the point of takeoff if it flies out of the user’s line of sight, loses signal with the remote or has a low battery, or if the user manually requests it to return.
“We’ve been practicing with it to really see how it works,” Pearson said. “We are going to train at least two more people to be able to use it.”
Pearson admitted that there were some concerns over the reaction the quad-copter would receive due to people’s predispositions regarding this new type of technology.
“We were a little uneasy about the reaction we would get,” Pearson said. “We want to see how well this gets adopted. We got a good reaction from the commanding officer of the 104th Precinct.”