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'A better public safety service'; How an eye in the sky helps this police department

Posted at 6:49 PM, Jan 31, 2024
and last updated 2024-01-31 19:49:11-05

MANITOWOC (NBC 26) — Technology has changed so much in our lives, and it's even changing law enforcement. In Manitowoc, sheriff's deputies on the ground are getting help from up in the air.

  • Manitowoc Sheriff's Department began the drone program in 2022.
  • Sheriff Dan Hartwig said that adapting to the future of technology is vital.
  • Kyle Stotzheim is a drone pilot with the department and said it provides a new comfort level for the whole department.

Drone pilot Lieutenant Kyle Stotzheim flies for the department.
"Not only does it allow us to search a larger area, but it allows us to find the people we are looking for faster,” said Stotzheim. "We have a better ability to keep the public safer."

The drone program started two years ago, and Sheriff Dan Hartwig says they've used them on more than 80 missions.

"Everything is evolving so rapidly and, a lot of times, it is difficult to keep up,” said Hartwig. “But, in the law enforcement realm, it's provided such a different service that we haven't had before."

They've flown them for rescues, missing person searches and during chases.

"It has just given us an eye in the sky to be able to provide such a better public safety service to our community,” Sheriff Hartwig said.

Three drones, ten pilots, one county.

"We're going to use it to keep them safer and I think that gives them a great peace of mind," said Stotzheim.

Sheriff Hartwig says a drone helped peacefully end one tense situation when deputies used it to identify a dark object in someone's hand. It was a cell phone.