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Community Fund grant supports Olean Police Department drone purchase, public safety

Wed, May 31st 2023 02:00 pm

Thanks to support from the Cattaraugus Region Community Foundation’s Community Fund and the Bill & Cathy Fraser grant program at the United Way of Cattaraugus County, the Olean Police Department recently acquired a new drone that will serve as a tool to enhance the public safety of those in the greater Olean area.

The CRCF board of directors approved a grant of $1,500 to the Olean Police Department for the drone purchase in 2022, but due to the need for additional funding and supply chain-related delays, the drone was acquired this month.

For the Olean Police Department, the drone will serve as a tool that helps further the public safety of the community it serves to protect.

According to Dylan Ensell, a department patrolman, the drone is particularly helpful in search efforts for missing persons and serves as an important tool in incidents like hostage situations and gun threats and helps keep both responding officers and members of the community safe.

“The City of Olean Police Department has assisted other agencies in the county with missing persons cases within the past few years. During these incidents, time is of the essence to ensure the safety of the missing person along with the first responders,” said Ensell. “Technology, such as drones, enables police departments to address situations quicker and with more effective response times to various calls.”

Drone use has provided other area departments and first responder agencies in the surrounding areas with valuable support in recent years, added Ensell.

“In 2021, the Cattaraugus County Sheriff's Office responded to a domestic dispute where an individual inside a residence advised 911 operators that he would harm his children if the police tried to enter the residence,” said Ensell. “They leveraged their drone to be able to get a look inside of the residence, without putting any of their officers in danger. They had observed via the drone that the individual was highly intoxicated and had fallen asleep, at which point they were able to safely evacuate the children.”

The new drone will also allow the Olean Police Department to assist agencies in surrounding cities, towns and counties when handling dangerous calls or missing persons cases.

Additionally, the drone’s thermal capabilities can be used to assist local fire departments when responding to fires by locating hot spots, heightening the safety of both firemen and police officers responding to calls.

Together, grants from CRCF’s Community Fund and the United Way of Cattaraugus County’s Bill and Cathy Fraser grant program covered 25% of the funding for the $9,000 grant. Grants from the Stitt Foundation and Cutco Foundation made up the remaining $6,500 for the drone.

“The purpose of the Foundation’s Community Fund is to respond the changing needs of our community. We have seen how important a drone can be in cases of missing persons and other situtations we have seen in our area in recent years,” said CRCF Executive Director Karen Niemic Buchheit. “This piece of equipment will be a huge help to our local first responders in times of need, and our board of directors is excited to have supported the Olean Police Department in acquiring it.”

Established in 1994, CRCF is growing good by connecting donors to the causes they care about most in the region. Grants from the Foundation support many areas, including education, scholarships, health care, the arts, community development, human service, and youth development. To learn more, call (716) 301-CRCF (2723), email [email protected], or visit online at www.cattfoundation.org. CRCF is also on Facebook (facebook.com/cattfoundation) and Twitter (@CattFoundation).