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Herriman city employees become drone pilots to assist city departments

HERRIMAN — In the next couple of months, Herriman City will have six FAA-certified drone pilots under their belt. The city employees are part of the Geographic Information Systems (GIS) department, but will serve all departments, including the police.

“We saw a real need to help with search and rescue (and) accident reconstruction, and the drones are great tool to help us do that. It allows us to do things we haven’t been able to do before — whether that’s in the engineering spectrum or to support the police department,” said Steve Brown, Herriman City's GIS manager.

Thursday night, the pilots-in-training took to the skies, training to fly at night around City Hall. They hope to help with operations, like accident reconstruction or search and rescues, even after the sun goes down.

“Nighttime becomes a really critical issue,” Brown said. “If you're not able to go out and cover large amounts of area, then you may not be able to rescue the people in time.”

Brown said this training is crucial in keeping his employees, and Herriman residents, safe and secure.

“We want to make sure that they know we are not using this to spy on them in any way; that’s actually against FAA guidelines,” he said.

The city has already purchased two drones. The six pilots will be trained to fly the drones in the daylight and at night. The GIS department plans to hold meetings for the public to inform them of how they will be using these drones.