Scottsdale police use drone to find missing kids

SCOTTSDALE, AZ - Scottsdale Police used a drone to track down three missing kids who planned to run away after they left an after-school program. 

The Scottsdale Police Department is one of the first in the Valley to get the drone program up and running and they hope to use their drones for more search and rescues in the future.

Sgt. Austen George is one of five certified pilots with Scottsdale Police who operates the department's two drones. 

"We had a report of some missing kids, younger kids from the community center here," said George. 

Two 9-year-old children and a 6-year-old child took off from their program at Mountain View Park near Mountain View Road and Loop 101. They apparently told other kids they were "running away" after one of them got in trouble at school. 

"We were able to put two of our drones up," said George. "And within 15 to 20 minutes, with help from folks on the ground, we were able to find the kids."

The kids were safe. They were tracked down at a Chipotle about a mile away. 

"Definitely put a smile on my face to know it was a success," said George.

One of the drones is equipped with a special infrared camera to help with searches in the wide open desert. 

"We can see thermal image, day or night, and it makes a lot easier to see in the dark," said George.

While some might ask if the flying drones can be a little "big brother," George says they are only allowed to use them for specific calls. 

"We basically took investigations completely off the table," said George. "It is purely for crime scene processing and search and rescues."

Scottsdale Police does not have a helicopter or air unit. They say says while drones don't completely replace a helicopter, it can help get an important vantage point for a fraction of the cost.  

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