BOSSIER PARISH, LA (KSLA) - The Bossier Sheriff's Office recently had success finding missing teens by using drones with cameras.
Deputies took to the air to find a trio of runaways hiding deep in the woods.
A deputy launched a drone equipped with a thermal-imaging camera and spotted the teens almost immediately.
The drones' operators say finding runaways is just one of the many uses for their devices.
The aircraft eliminate the delay that happens when authorities request helicopter support.
"The minimum, they're an hour away if they're in Alexandria. If they're coming from Baton Rouge, it's even farther," Deputy William Cox said of helicopters.
They also have a hefty price tag.
"The average flight time for a helicopter is anywhere between $1,500 and $5,000 an hour, depending on what resources that you're using," Cox said.
Four months ago, the Sheriff's Office invested added five high-tech drones to its force.
"We have an infrared camera which designates heat, and we have higher-resolution color that zooms in," Deputy Donnie Keith explained.
The new tools already have proven to be successful. "It has been a direct advantage," Keith said.
"We've been out looking for lost children, we've been out looking for burglars, we've been out looking for just people who got lost hunting. It's been a very good asset for the sheriffs office and the people of Bossier Parish."
And deputies say the tools are there to help provide safety, not invade people's privacy.
"Everything that we shoot is oriented toward the safety of persons who are lost in the woods or you're lost and you have medical problems, for suspects who are in areas that are hard for us to get to," Cox said.
"We're not looking into people's windows. We're not trying to videotape your poolside behavior," he continued. "Our mission is to provide safety, and now it's safety from above."