Desoto County News

Olive Branch Police to add new drone to its arsenal

Photo: From left, Olive Branch Police Officer Tre Price, Mayor Ken Adams, Mark Utley Sr., and Police Chief Bill Cox. (Bob Bakken/

July 2 -The Olive Branch Police Department (OBPD) has used drone technology in public safety and crime fighting for several years. However, it’s about time to get a new, updated model.  

So, OBPD and the City of Olive Branch are about to get that new model, when sometime next month officials will unveil what is being named MUOB8, a new drone that is being donated to the city by Mark Utley Sr., President of Utley Properties in Olive Branch. MU are Utley’s initials, followed by OB for Olive Branch plus the random number eight.  

Announcement of the $30,000 drone donation was made at Police Headquarters to DeSoto County News Tuesday morning.

Mayor Ken Adams calls Utley a “good corporate citizen” in Olive Branch, adding, “he approached me maybe six months ago and said he’d like to do something for the police department and this drone is an ideal thing. We have one but it’s a legacy model and it’s time to upgrade. So this is a perfect opportunity for us and we’re just very thankful for Mark’s donation, without a doubt.”

Utley said he’s pleased to be able to help the City and the Police Department in providing this valuable tool.

“Mayor Adams and Chief (Bill) Cox are very committed to fighting crime and keeping Olive Branch safe,” Utley said. “They needed a drone so I’m buying them one. These drones are very instrumental in every law enforcement department and I think anywhere.”

Cox explained the drone helps the police department in a lot of situations and will help it respond better.  

“Drone technology provides us with an increased ability to locate missing persons, fleeing suspects or escapees,” Cox said. “Additionally, drones can be used in support of SWAT operations by providing surveillance information that directly impacts the safety of officers.”

A drone can be used to help in mapping crime scenes or locating additional evidence not seen at ground level. Accident reconstruction is another way a drone can be used, Cox said.  

“Drone technology positively impacts many areas of law enforcement,” Cox said. “It is another tool for us to give our citizens the best and law enforcement services that we can and that’s ultimately our goal.

Another use of a drone is in locating missing elderly people who walk away from their homes. However, there are regulations that police have to abide by in the use of drones, a craft that is regulated by the federal government and Federal Aviation Administration.  

“Privacy is certainly a concern and that’s one of the reasons that the federal government and the FAA monitor and regulate drone use very closely,” said Cox. “ So there are many policies and procedures that we have to follow to be in line with that, and certainly we will do that and comply with those regulations.”

Some formalities remain, as the Board of Aldermen must accept the donation at a board meeting. Shortly after the minutes of that meeting are approved at the next meeting after that, the drone can be purchased and delivered to the police department, when it will then be put into service.