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Each year members of the Lawrence Police Department join forces with the City’s Community Development Department and other partners to volunteer for the Annual “Point in Time Complete Count” event. This assessment provides estimates of the number of homeless persons residing in shelters and in unsheltered locations throughout the city on a single night. These counts are required by the Department of Housing and Urban Development and are conducted by communities nationwide. Typically, these counts occur annually during the last week in January. As a City, it is important to make sure those who are homeless are counted and are accurately represented. The results of the City’s Point in Time count determines federal funding that comes to the City for services, programs and resources, for housing and homelessness.
Today for the first time, in preparation for this year’s count, Lt. Jay Cerullo and Officer Eddey Southworth of the LPD Drone Unit joined with the City’s Homeless Coordinator Sandy Guerrier to use the Department’s drone to locate areas along the banks of the Merrimack River where homeless encampment have been set up. The purpose of this operation was to use drone technology to better allocated resources for the actual count. Using the drone, a vast area along the river was covered in a short time.
The Drone Unit was activated April 13, 2019, with one licensed (Part 107) pilot, Officer Eddey Southworth. Two additional members of Department were later certified, Detective Christopher Cote and Officer Francis Nova. Obtaining the Part 107 license required the successful completion of a written examination prepared by the Federal Aviation Agency (FAA). Pilots must go through recertification every two years with a similar exam.
The Drone Unit is available to the Department during all shifts, and on an on-call basis for any investigation, searches, and surveillance and to assist the entry team where it may be lawfully and appropriately utilized.