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Taking flight in Baltimore to bridge the gap on the ground between police and teens

First responders & students get drone certified
Teens and first responders learning how to fly drones together.
Posted at 11:18 PM, Mar 13, 2019
and last updated 2019-03-14 13:07:37-04

BALTIMORE, Md. — The sky is no longer the limit for 12 Baltimore city high school seniors.

In two weeks, Kennard Tate will have something he never expected, and he’s excited to tell his friends about it.

“To say that I have my FAA license they will be like oh really what’s that? I’ll tell them all about it and show it off.”

First responders from the city are also taking off with the students. William Johnson is an officer with the Baltimore City Community College Police Department and he sees drones as a great way to keep officers and community members safe.

“We want to be able to fly around and see incidents that look suspicious and be able to respond and be a lot more proactive with law enforcement,” said Johnson.

In Baltimore, time spent between law enforcement and young people growing together is invaluable.

“They can come up to us and say 'hey Bill we met with you in the class, what are you doing?' We can bring them on and show them what we are doing with the drones,” Johnson said. “They can tell us what they are doing in this UAV unmanned air vehicle career.”

Tate said he never would have even had a conversation with them, and now he sees officers in a totally different light.

“I definitely recognize them when I’m out and I’ll definitely say what’s up,” said Tate. “Ask what they are doing tonight. Maybe like what’s going on. It’s cool to meet officers because that’s something I really wouldn’t do.”

The National Center on Institutions and Alternatives or NCIA made this possible.

NCIA Co-Founder and CEO Herb Hoelter thought it would be a great way to bridge the gap between officers and teens while also helping both groups excel.

“Watching these kids fly drones,” said Hoelter. “They couldn’t fly one two weeks ago and they are running all over with them.”

On Wednesday night, NCIA held a demonstration at Dorothy I. Height Elementary School.

Before showing off what they’ve learned the students and parents were introduced to experts who use drones.

The experts were in fields like the US Army Special Operations Division, Seal Team Six, and the Cypher Group.

Patricia Driscoll, the CEO of the Cypher Group has been training the students and first responders for the last two weeks.

She’s confident they will all be drone certified in two weeks.

“It is a huge industry, the military is specifically recruiting kids who want to do drones,” Driscoll said.

Tate has been enjoying taking to the sky, and now the high school senior is ready to soar.

“After High School I definitely want to go to college,” said Tate. “Now that I have this on my resume I can put that in there, so we’ll see how that goes.”

If you want to learn more about drone training or get you or a loved one certified reach out to Gary Antonino, the Executive Director at the Herbert J. Hoelter Vocational Training Center. His email is