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Local sheriff's department tries to expand drone use

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GRAND FORKS, ND (WDAZ-TV) - A local sheriff is speaking out against the FAA, saying they are putting the public in danger.

He wants continued approval for drone use to assist law enforcement when they're searching for dangerous suspects.

Grand Forks Sheriff Bob Rost is frustrated that the FAA is not responding to him, but is even more frustrated by who they are responding to.

117.5 million viewers tuned into Lady Gaga's Super Bowl halftime show.

300 quadcopters in the air captured her performance.

But it took the FAA's permission to launch those drones.

Bob Rost, Grand Forks Sheriff: "The frustrating part is that the Super Bowl was able to accomplish this in six weeks and we haven't been able to accomplish it in six months."

The Grand Forks Sheriff's department had short-term permission from the FAA to use UAS systems at night, but that expired.

The department applied for long-term permission to continue using this technology back in August of last year, but has not received a word back from the FAA.

Sheriff Rost says not allowing the department to use drones puts public safety at stake.

"Public safety should be first and foremost with everybody's concern. It is certainly with us! To be able to get these permits or waivers so that we can do out job. And we haven’t been able to accomplish it," says Rost.

The Grand Forks County Sheriff's department was the only department in the country that is allowed to use drone systems at night.

The department currently has a representative in Dallas Texas, who will make an open request to the FAA on Monday to give drone use priority to law enforcement agencies.

We reached out to the FAA for comment, but have not heard anything back.