APD purchasing drone with Elks Lodge donation

By NEAL WAGNER / Managing Editor

ALABASTER – The Alabaster Police Department soon will be getting a piece of potentially life-saving hardware after the Cahaba Valley Elks Lodge made a significant donation to the department during an Oct. 1 Alabaster City Council meeting.

During the meeting, representatives from the Pelham-based Elks Lodge presented a $4,000 donation to APD to allow the department to purchase a drone with night-vision capabilities.

The donation came as a result of funding from the Elks National Foundation, which provides grants to local Elks lodges to improve their communities, and local funds, said Cahaba Valley Elks Lodge Treasurer Robert Shinpaugh.

“We wouldn’t be able to do this without the Elks National Foundation,” Shinpaugh said.

Shinpaugh joined Elks Lodge Exalted Ruler John Gaydon at the meeting to make the presentation to Alabaster Police Chief Curtis Rigney and Mayor Marty Handlon.

Rigney said the donation is much-appreciated, and will greatly benefit the department in many ways.

“We’re excited about it and the opportunities it gives us,” Rigney said, noting the department is still researching which drone it will purchase. “All aspects of our department will benefit from this.”

Rigney said the drone will be used in search operations for missing children and elderly adults, will be used to take photos of crime and vehicle crash scenes and much more.

“We will be able to send a drone into areas where it’s not safe for officers,” Rigney said. “If we have a severe weather event, we’d be able to survey and take photos of the damage without entering dangerous areas. It will be a great tool for us.”

Making donations to area organizations is among the many community-focused offerings of the Cahaba Valley Elks Lodge, which also conducts regular school visits, holds a Flag Day ceremony in Pelham each year, provides comfort kits to kidney dialysis patients and more.

“We are appreciative of the Cahaba Valley Elks for their generous donation,” Rigney said. “That’s money the taxpayers don’t have to come up with, so it’s a win for the whole city.”