Key Metrics


Fort Wayne, IN

sUAS Pilots


The Fort Wayne Police Department’s Air Support Unit (FWPD ASU) was formed in 2017 by Lieutenant Jon Bowers with careful oversight by Deputy Chief Martin Bender and Chief of Police Steve Reed. As small Unmanned Aerial Systems or “drones” came to proliferate, Lt. Jon Bowers recognized the incredible value that this technology would bring to modern day policing and how transformative it would be to the Fort Wayne Police Department with a population of 280,000 people. Starting such a uniquely new program from the ground up represented a significant challenge, but ASU’s formation was originally born out of a resource for the department’s negotiations team.

The FWPD Air Support Unit has one Sergeant and six Patrolmen, who are all Part 107 license Small Unmanned Aircraft System (sUAS) pilots. The ASU remote pilots typically work their normal duties for the department (patrolmen, detectives, etc.) and their ASU tasks are on a call-out basis. The team trains two days per month to keep up on maintenance and to investigate future needs of the unit. Additionally, the team trains and collaborates with other public safety and public works departments, who also specialize in sUAS use.

The mission capabilities of the ASU have expanded exponentially since 2017 to include the following:

- Crime Scene and crash investigations
- Hostage and barricade scenes
- Missing and vulnerable person searches
- HAZMAT spills
- Protest and civil unrest surveillance


One of the issues that the Fort Wayne Police Department Air Support Unit continued to have was how to transfer large amounts of photos and videos recorded from the drone to different places in a short period of time. During fatal crash scene investigations, hundreds of photos and multiple videos are often taken. The Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (sUAS) Pilots would remove the memory card from the drone and wait for the photos and videos to upload, which consumed valuable time during investigations. Second, the Fort Wayne Police Department wanted to ASU to streamline how aerial photos could be provided to command in preparing for a tactical operation.


“When every decision is crucial and seconds can mean the difference between life or death, the Fort Wayne Police Department Air Support Unit trusted GNARBOX to rapidly provide critical mission intelligence to Incident Commanders to facilitate better tactical decisions.”

Fort Wayne Police Department Air Support Unit


Solutions were found with the help of Jay Peterson from GNARBOX. The rugged backup device quickly transfers photos and video from memory cards to the GNARBOX 2.0 SSD. Apps like Dropbox can be utilized to store the data and instantly viewed by other officers in a matter of seconds. Through the SafeKeep app, GNARBOX provides real-time photos and videos which can assist command in making critical tactical decisions.


GNARBOX enables Fort Wayne Police Department to rapidly back up crucial data and deliver it to command in real-time, providing mission-critical intelligence on the spot, and allowing teams to make the most well informed tactical decisions possible. 

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