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Appleton & Outagamie Co. to start using drones

Drone flying in Appleton on April 19, 2017 (WLUK/Mike Moon)

APPLETON (WLUK) -- Local government employees are working toward their pilot licenses, their DRONE pilot licenses, that is.

A group of Appleton and Outagamie County employees trained with their new tech Wednesday.

Drone flying might look like a fun day on the job, but these future pilots say it's much more.

"It's not just a toy. It's a tool," explained Chad Doran, communications coordinator for the City of Appleton.

Seven Appleton City employees and four Outagamie County employees are training with drones this week. They will get drone licenses from the FAA to make their jobs easier.

The county's sheriff's department is particularly interested.

"It's gonna be a great tool for us," said Staff Sergeant Ryan Carpenter who explained the department recently had to search the woods for a missing person.

He told FOX 11 News a drone would have helped immensely.

"With this tool we'd be able to put it up in the air, use infrared and locate this person within a matter of minutes," Carpenter told us.

Carpenter said a drone will keep officers safer too. Instead of sending them in to a building to search for a suspect, they can send the drone.

"We can, you know, hover over a building and watch all the exits," Carpenter explained.

Doran told FOX 11 Appleton's drone will help keep city employees across many departments safe as well.

"Street construction projects, inspections, our fire department and police department certainly can use it in emergency situations," he told us.

The city also plans to use its drone for fun things like when the Christmas Parade comes down College Avenue in November, employees will be able to get video of it.

"Just beauty shots of the city for our website, social media, parades, things like that," said Doran.

Doran told us, by doing this training together, the city and county have saved on the cost. He also said the drones themselves will help save on equipment and manpower costs down the road.

We see, in the long run, this is really going to be a big savings for us and it's really gonna be a useful tool," Doran explained.

The city budgeted for its drone at a cost of about $4,000 dollars. That includes all the necessary equipment.

The county still needs to buy its drone equipment.

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