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How an 'underwater drone' is helping Anoka County Sheriff's Office

Technology advancements equipment have led the Anoka County Sheriff's Office to a new tool to help with their dive team.

NOWTHEN, Minnesota — In the land of 10,000 lakes, it's important local sheriff departments have teams trained to respond to water emergencies. The Anoka County Sheriff's Office is gaining more resources with its Remotely Operated Underwater Vehicle (ROV). 

"It's something we have been researching for years," Anoka County Sheriff's Office Mike Schantzen said. 

Schantzen has been diving with the department for 12 years. He says the days of dropping divers into a lake without any tools are over. 

The latest technology that they refer to as the ROV, is somewhat of an underwater drone that has the ability to grab onto an object. It has a high-definition camera and sonar system that can stay in the water for 10 hours and dive beneath the surface down 1000 feet.

"When you can send equipment down and not have to worry about the safety of your divers, that's key as well," Schantzen said. 

Schantzen says the number of divers on their marine division has dwindled in recent years, and he thinks the ROV can help fill some of that void. 

"We will always need divers," Schantzen said. "But this just adds to our resources." 

This specific ROV costs around $40,000 but some larger models can cost up to $250,000. Schantzen says Hennepin County also uses a ROV. 

"Although it looks easy like you're just playing Xbox flying this thing around, it is tough to interpret the images you're seeing to make the exact maneuvers," Schantzen said.

His team has been training with the tool. He says they luckily haven't used it on an active call yet. 

"It's a great asset and something that should really improve the efficiency of our operations in the future, " Schantzen said. 

Posted by Anoka County Sheriff's Office on Monday, January 23, 2023

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