Eye in the Sky
How drones are keeping deputies out of danger
The shooter was holed up in the Aurora home with a dead body taking random shots out the second story window. Patrol officers and SWAT responded to the scene. But before they put themselves in the line of fire, they asked Arapahoe County Sheriff Deputy Mark Edson for help with his new drone.
With a crescending WHIRRR of the propellers, Deputy Edson fired up the drone and aimed it at the window. He hoped to get an eye on the shooter so SWAT could finalize the plan to stop her. But when the drone beamed back the live video, Deputy Edson saw the gunman was dead at her own hands. Deputy Edson says the intelligence from a $1,000 drone closed the case quickly and saved taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars.
"It saved negotiators hours of trying to communicate with a person who was obviously not going to answer the phone. We were able to send home all of the officers and the SWAT team who were working on overtime, and safely return neighbors to their homes. Without that intelligence, we would have been there most of the night," stated Edson.
That was the first drone deployment for Edson on behalf of the Arapahoe County Sheriff's Office (ACSO). Today, the ACSO has four drones, also known as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), that are used frequently for active threats, missing people, crime scenes, SWAT deployments, traffic accidents and more.
Recently, Deputy Edson flew a drone on another SWAT mission. He navigated it through the front door, flew downstairs and cleared the lower level, flew it upstairs and cleared that level, then guided it down to the kitchen, where he gently landed the UAV on the counter, to record the suspect's arrest.
"You can use it for everything in our job. The technology is developing so fast, that soon, we may even have deployable defibrillators for people having heart attacks."
Today, pilots use drones to map crime and traffic scenes down to centimeters in accuracy. That means deputies can quickly clear up traffic accidents and get the roads open for drivers. Pilots can also map vegetation for fire mitigation after determining if the vegetation is dry and ready to spark. Deputy Edson has also used his drone for mapping critical infrastructure like dams, to see if they have any weak points.
"The technology is potentiallly life-saving. It allows us to get valuable information from the ground and air without putting officers' lives at risk," said Deputy Edson. "It's so much safer to pop up a drone and see if a bad guy with a weapon is hiding behind a fence, than sending an officer after him. If I can save one officer's life, one child's life who is missing in the dark and cold, then it's worth every penny."
Edson has been flying remote control airplanes since he was a kid. He'd build them with his dad, fly them, crash them, and then build them again. When law enforcement began using drones, Deputy Edson was the first in the ACSO to get an FAA 107 Remote Pilot's license. Since then, he's worked hard to develop a UAV program and academy to get other operators trained and licensed. He has also pulled together other law enforcement agencies to share resources and has worked with the media and local airports to protect air space.
This month, the Airport Authority, city of Centennial and the FAA recognized Deputy Edson's success by presenting him with the Award of Excellence.
"This was a meaningful award because for the past three years, it's been a labor of love."
Check out this drone video by Mark Edson of a bear on the loose in Arapahoe County!
I Can't Drive 55
If you're like singer Sammy Hagar and can't drive 55, turn down the volume for a moment so we can tell you about the best excuses fast drivers give our deputies to try to get out of a ticket.
So what CAN a driver say to get out of a ticket? Deputy Amanda Cruz Giordano says, "just be honest and really, really nice."
ACSO School Resource Officers tell parents one click can change their child's life forever
Help us solve this COLD CASE
Stephanie Bauman, 15
On October 28, 1980, a motorist driving down County Road 173 about 5 miles south of US 36 called the Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office to report a body near the road. Deputies were dispatched to the scene where they discovered the nude body of 15-year-old Stephanie Bauman. Her body was bruised and lying in a ditch. Stephanie’s clothes were found nearly a mile away in a pile. She had died of hypothermia. Stephanie reportedly lived in a group home but had run away approximately two weeks prior to her death and was staying with different acquaintances. If you have any information about this case, please contact Arapahoe County Cold Case Investigator Niki Bales at 720-874-4030 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Deputy Lara Dreiling
We’ve all been there, you’re driving down the road, running a little late when you see the flashing yellow light telling you there’s a school zone. There are no kids around anyway, so why are the lights flashing? Do you really have to slow down?
School zones are supposed to help keep kids safe as they come and go from school. Yet every year, students are injured or killed while walking or riding their bikes to school. Most people think that only means before and after school, but that’s not always the case. Many of our local high schools have an open campus which means students can come and go throughout the day, including their lunch hours and off periods.
So who is responsible for keeping students safe? Is it reasonable to expect a kindergartner to follow all the rules of the road or know how long it will take a car to stop to allow them to cross a crosswalk? Or to expect the middle school student to make sure the car won’t roll through a stop sign while they are crossing a crosswalk?
The answer is IT IS YOUR RESPONSIBILITY. Children are not born with an innate understanding of traffic laws. It takes time to learn these rules. Even many adults don’t understand all the rules. As drivers, we need to be extra vigilant in and around school zones throughout the day. Here are some basic things drivers can do to avoid an accident and maybe even save a life.
• Slow Down – The chances of a pedestrian being killed if struck by a vehicle increase as the speed of the vehicle increases. This is particularly true with children, who are smaller than adults.
• Stop – Come to a full stop at stop signs. This includes stop signs on the side of the road, those held by crossing guards, and those on the side of buses.
• Put down the phone – or whatever you are doing that takes your eyes off the road. Don't eat breakfast, put on your makeup, read or do anything that distracts you.
Remember kids do unexpected things all the time. Remain vigilant while driving near schools. The couple extra seconds it will take you to get through the school zone may save the life of a child.
A BIG THANK YOU!
When you see the photos below, you'll understand why we do what we do. These precious elementary students in the after-care program at Willow Creek Elementary School in Centennial surprised us with gift bags. Why? To thank us for protecting them.
ANOTHER THANK YOU...
STEM School Highlands Ranch also thanked our deputies this month for all their help during the shooting. The cards and letters melted our hearts. #stemstrong
Sheriff and Denver 7 team up to fight cancer
Arapahoe County Sheriff Tyler Brown told 7NEWS anchors his staff has created a nonprofit to help patients at Littleton Adventist Hospital battle breast and prostate cancer. That means deputies, clerks, investigators and other personnel (like the sheriff himself) are wearing blue patches, pins and other items in September for prostate cancer awareness month, and pink patches and other items in October to support patients suffering from breast cancer. His staff is selling the pink and blue items at BlueBacksthePink.com. All of the money pays for diagnosis and treatment for patients who can't afford it.
The Arapahoe County Sheriff's Office also teamed up with KMGH Denver7 to help spread the word about the cause. We hope the public will get involved, buy items, and help cancer patients in Arapahoe County. The goal is to raise $10,000 by the end of October 2019.