AMHERST Co., Va. (WDBJ7) -- After about a $20 thousand investment, law enforcement is rolling out a new way to serve the area. "We're just getting off the ground with it," Amherst County Investigator Robert Oliver said.
It's an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV).
Most commonly called a drone, Investigator Oliver says the Amherst County Sheriff's office is now armed with two. "Our secondary unit is for tactical operations and indoor use," he explained.
The secondary unit, used for inside flights, has propeller guards and mounted headlights.
Oliver says that can be critical for officer safety. "It's much easier if we can breach a house and send a UAV in verses sending a human in," he said.
There is also a larger UAV for outside searches.
The drone has infrared technology for search and rescues.
Its already helped with three missions.
Oliver says in the past, they've had to rely on response from State Police for aerial searches.
He says last year's tornado was one reason the county found a need for the technology as the sheriff's office had to use the High School's drone to get damage estimates for the National Weather Service. "The technology's is here, I'm thankful our county has seen the need for it and allowed us to explore this program and develop it and to allow us to move it forward," Oliver said.