State plans to ‘scale back’ investigation of drones in northeast Colorado

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DENVER -- In a report released Monday, state officials said they plan to "scale back" their investigation of suspicious drone activity in northeast Colorado.

The Colorado Department of Public Safety has been gathering information about the drone sightings since Nov. 23. It has been conducting field investigations since Jan. 6.

The CDPS has been investigating alongside the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management (DHSEM), Division of Fire Prevention and Control (DFPC) and Colorado State Patrol.

"Based on the data gathered and analyzed during these investigations, CDPS will scale back proactive operations but will continue to respond to and investigate reports of suspicious activity," the DHSEM said in the report.

Between Nov. 23 and Jan. 13, the Colorado Information Analysis Center received 90 reports of drone activity. Of those, 14 were confirmed by law enforcement to by hobbyist drones.

There were no confirmed circumstances of illegal drone activity, officials said.

Additionally, the DHSEM said a report of a Flight For Life helicopter coming close to a drone in Fort Morgan was not related to the suspicious activity on the Plains.

"This determination was made based on the information shared directly with CDPS staff, including the incident occurred during daylight hours, involved one drone, and the pilot cannot identify a specific location. Unfortunately, this type of drone incursion is an all-too-frequent event with medical helicopters and serves as an important reminder to drone operators to follow FAA operations guidance," the report stated.

Between Jan. 6 and Jan. 13, when state officials were investigating drone sightings in the field, there were 23 drone activity reports. Of those, 13 were determined to be planets, stars or small hobbyist drones. Six reports were ruled out as "atmospheric conditions or unidentified commercial aircraft." Finally, four reports were confirmed by law enforcement but the aircraft were unidentifiable.

“The public has been worried about the reports of strange drone activity. Our duty is to be responsive to community concerns and to investigate suspicious activity, and so we mobilized our teams to look into this,” said CDPS Executive Director Stan Hilkey in the report. “Despite all of the reported activity, we are still unaware of any crime being committed. While I can’t conclusively say we have solved the mystery, we have been able to rule out a lot of the activity that was causing concern. We will continue to remain vigilant and respond as new information comes in.”

The public can submit reports of suspicious activity on the CIAC website.

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