Stafford deputies using drones to catch suspects

Here's a look at how the Stafford County Sheriff's deputies are using drones to catch suspects.

For the second time in two weeks, Stafford County Sheriff's deputies have used drones to catch suspects. The department's new drone program is run by Lt. Ben Worcester. 

"It's a game changer," said Worcester about how drones are impacting law enforcement.  

Not only does the drone put more "eyes in the sky" for police, but it also thermal imaging that can detect living people hidden by trees or brush. It could be useful in searching for missing people or suspects in hiding. Twice between June 1 and June 6, Stafford deputies located fleeing suspects with drones.  

RELATED: Va. woman says she shot drone flying over her property

A video taken around 2:00 a.m. on June 6 shows a power line as the drone approaches. Below is a moving white figure in the black and white scene. That figure is the suspect who runs towards the woods.  A minute later, the drone locates the suspect again as he runs through the woods. 

The suspect is Michael Anthony Pixley Jr., 25, or Temple Hills, Md. He's accused of June 4th carjacking in Fairfax County, and the next day holding up two gas stations in Spotsylvania and Stafford. Deputies saw the stolen vehicle and gave chase. The suspect fled on foot in the trees in the northern part of the county along I-95.

Because police know he's there they wait him out. Some 10 hours later they move in and make the arrest. 

Police departments around Virginia and calling Lt. Worcester asking him about their drone program. 

Stafford's department has four drones and eight trained deputies to be remote pilots. The training involves a 40-hour course and continuous practice and updating.   

© 2017 WUSA-TV


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