The Gwinnett County Police Department is now able to investigate serious traffic accidents in less time thanks to its new drone.
Up until recently, officers had to call in a ladder truck from the Gwinnett Fire Department in order to take aerial photos of the scene. In some cases, investigators had to return to the scene and close down the road a second time.
“We’re able to launch this thing and within five minutes have pictures of the entire scene which eliminates the need for the roadways to be closed for an excessive amount of time,” says Lt. Chris Smith, who coordinates the program for the department’s Accident Investigation Unit.
He tells WSB’s Sandra Parrish it also allows more detailed photos to be taken while saving the resources of the fire department.
The agency, which began the process a year ago, is among the first police departments in metro Atlanta to get approval to use the device from the Federal Aviation Administration.
Right now only two officers are trained to use the drone and are called out each time it’s needed. But Smith says other officers in the AIU and the SWAT team will eventually be trained as well.
He says right now it will only be used for accident investigations but could eventually be used in missing persons cases.
“Say there’s a lost person on the park trails. We’re able to come to the location and maybe get the drone high enough to see some of the trails around and maybe locate that lost person that may be in medical distress or a lost child in the park,” says Smith.
The department has also considered its use in standoff situations, but he says there are privacy issues that would first have to be overcome.