DENVER – The Phillips County sheriff on Wednesday took back his call for people in northeastern Colorado to look out for a possible command vehicle that might be piloting the mystery drones seen there in recent weeks.
On Monday, Phillips County Sheriff Tom Elliott and his office attended a meeting involving nearly 80 local and state law enforcement officials and representatives from other federal agencies at which the consortium created a task force to find out who was behind the drones and their purposes.
The office said after the meeting that the task force was looking for a command vehicle – likely a closed box trailer with antennas or a large van – that could be housing the drone operators.
But on Wednesday, the office wrote that the information about a possible command vehicle “is no longer pertinent or relevant.”
“The Phillips County Sheriff’s Office is not the task force and our jurisdiction does not extend past Phillips County Colorado. We will no longer be making any statements or press releases about the drone incidents. Thank you,” the sheriff’s office wrote in a Facebook post.
The Morgan County Sheriff’s Office on Tuesday also responded on its Facebook page to a question from a resident about the possible command vehicle.
“The vehicle and trailer descriptions are based on pure speculation,” the sheriff’s office wrote. “It may be accurate; but there is no information, at this time, that supports it.”
A member of the new task force who was present for Monday’s meeting who agreed to speak on the condition of anonymity said there were no formal discussions about a search for any command vehicle.
“The working group was never looking for a ‘command vehicle’ as described in a recent social media post,” the person said.
There are no set timelines for the task force, but it said it was taking every sighting and report of drones seriously in order to hopefully identify who is behind them. The FAA says it has no definitive answer about who is operating the drones and the Air Force has denied involvement.
The drones have been spotted in multiple counties in northeastern Colorado and southwestern Colorado – often flying in grid patterns and in packs. Local sheriff’s offices have not determined that the operators have broken any state laws.
The FAA said it had contacted FAA drone test sites, drone companies and operators allowed to fly drones in the area and had not determined the source of the drones. It said it had also contacted airports in the area to urge pilots to be cautious and report sightings and was discussing more ways to identify the operators.
"Multiple FAA divisions are working closely with federal, state and local stakeholders to determine whether the reported sightings in Colorado and Nebraska are drones and, if so, who is operating them and for what reason," the FAA said in a statement this week.