Skip to main content

Westport police turn to drones to locate a suicidal man

Westport police in Massachusetts has turned to drones to help in the search of a suicidal man after he made concerning comments to his family. The police department sent up a thermal camera-equipped drone and was able to find the man in a safe condition.

After he made comments to his family, the police were notified of the man that prompted them to call in support from the Westport police.

The man had turned off his phone, making it impossible for him to be traced by it. Police thought he went to a local wooded area in town. This was when officers decided to deploy the drone.

Westport Det. Robert Rebello, who is also a FAA certified drone pilot said:

“As soon as we went up, we swept a portion of the property and went over to the cemetery and that’s when we found him lying by the stone wall.”

The man was taken to the local hospital for evaluation but appeared to be in a safe condition. A search like this one is the perfect use case for a drone. You have some idea of where the person is but the area is large, so you send a drone up to search the area in a fraction of the time than you would have been able to do on foot.

Rebello went on to say:

“The drones are costly, but you can’t put a price on human life. I’m absolutely 100% convinced it was the drone that led to his successful finding and ultimately saving his life.”

The department received its first drone a few years back from the city and then got another from a donation. The drones have replaced the Massachusetts State Police helicopter in most scenarios, making for faster and cheaper deployment. Rebello added that the thermal drone is great to use during the night.

Police and fire departments worldwide are increasingly turning to drones to fight crime, manage fires, and improve efficiency.

Photo: WJAR



Avatar for Josh Spires Josh Spires

Josh started in the drone community in 2012 with a drone news Twitter account. Over the years Josh has gained mass exposure from his aerial photography work and spends his days writing drone content for DroneDJ as well as pursuing his business.