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Grand Forks sheriff gets OK to fly drones at night

GRAND FORKS, N.D. (AP) -- The Federal Aviation Administration has authorized the Grand Forks sheriff's department to fly drones at night.

Sheriff Robert Rost says the FAA's previous permission only allowed his department to fly unmanned aircraft systems during daytime.

The Grand Forks Sheriff's Department Unmanned Aircraft Systems Unit involves collaboration between the department, the University of North Dakota and two small drone manufacturers.

Rost says his department has deployed the unit nine times since May 2013 on diverse incidents including serious traffic accidents and the search for felony suspects.

The unit is allowed to participate in a limited number of missions including the search for missing people and serious crime suspects, disaster assessments, crime and traffic accident scene documentation, and road traffic monitoring during major events. Drones can't be used for routine patrol.