Charles County, MD — Work with Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS), also known as drones, has earned a Charles County Sheriff’s Deputy a top honor.


Captain David Kelly, Commander of the Executive Services Division, has been recognized as Deputy of the Year by the Maryland Sheriff’s Association in the category of Contributions to Profession.

Captain Kelly, who is also an FAA certified pilot, established the Sheriff’s Office drone program. He did such a good job of it that other police and fire departments in the region have asked for the help of Captain Kelly and his team to establish their own program.

“I am extremely proud of the work Captain Kelly put into this program to get it off the ground. This type of technology is critical in police work and has already helped us in a number of cases, especially when time is of the essence,” said Sheriff Troy D. Berry.

Back in 2016, when Sheriff Berry wanted to establish a drone program, he turned to  Captain Kelly to lead the endeavor due to his experience as a pilot and his time using drones to document crime scenes when he was a supervisor in the Criminal Investigations Division.

Captain Kelly has been a licensed manned aircraft pilot’s license for 23 years.  With safety as his top priority, Kelly worked with officials from the Federal Aviation Administration, the Council of Governments, and a consultant from Alaris to create guidelines for the program.

He selected the equipment and secured a facility to safely store and maintain the equipment to ensure its mission readiness.

Kelly earned his FAA remote pilot’s license to fly UASs commercially in 2017.  He interviewed and selected officers to be trained as licensed UAS operators and filled the program with competent pilots who are the backbone of the program.

Since the establishment of the program, officers are available on a 24/7 callout basis and have been used for pre-raid surveillance, narcotic investigations, crime scene documentation, searches for fleeing suspects, search and rescue operations, barricade situations, fatal accident scenes, DUI checkpoints, large-scale events and to locate missing persons.

“I am honored to have received this award from the Maryland Sheriff’s Association. The development of our UAS program has been a team effort and I have worked with so many people along the way to ensure we did things right and in the best manner possible to better serve our Agency and our community,” said Captain Kelly. In 2018, Captain Kelly also earned the Sheriff’s Award from Sheriff Berry for his dedication to duty and for establishing this program.