Bay County Sheriff's Office now has new eyes in the sky

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BAY COUNTY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - It's not a bird or plane, but a new way for the Bay County Sheriff's Office to help fight crime.

The active shooter situation that happened more than three months ago in Panama City prompted the Bay County Sheriff's Office to invest in some new technology.

"The Sheriff saw the real possibilities and that's when he made the decision that we needed to investigate this and we needed to acquire some and start our own drone program," said Bay County Sheriff's Office Public Information Officer Ruth Corley.

Now, the Sheriff's Office can use two drones that will help in many situations.

"It's gonna be used mostly for, like we said, evidentiary purposes or for contingency situations like a missing child or a drowned person," said Drone Coordination Manager for the Bay County Sheriff's Office, Dennis Rozier.

They can also be used as a way to track down the bad guys.

"It may be used for a fleeing suspect if he jumps out of a car and runs into the woods," said Rozier.

Bay County Sheriff's Office wants you to know that these drones are for your safety and not to invade your privacy.

"We have a policy that has been written that very clearly defines when the drones are to be used and how they are to be used," said Corely.

That policy has made taking the drones out an act a judge has to approve.

"The way this goes with the drones is we will not be photographing or recording any images or videos of any real persons, their property, their guests, vehicles, any of that, without a search warrant or without that person's permission," said Rozier.

Their drone policy mirrors Florida State law to protect your privacy and it's something they don't want to violate.

"We do value their privacy, that this is not something that's going to be just going up all the time," said Corely.

The Sheriff's Office will begin to use the drones either later this week or next week.