DOTHAN, Ala. (WDHN) — New tools are coming to one local law enforcement agency as part of an effort to fight crime and keep you safe.
The Dothan Police Department has invested in three new drones to help keep the department up to date with technological advancements.
“One thing that we looked at was the acquisitions of UAS which stands for unmanned aerial systems, so we first started looking at this from a traffic standpoint,” Lt. Scott Owens said.
Currently, DPD has something called a total station. This is a piece of mapping equipment that shoots a laser out to measure elevation and distance at a traffic collision but can only measure one point at a time.”
“So to make our jobs more efficient we started to looking at better ways that technology can help us do that and we came across the phantom 4 RTK,” Owens said.
The Phantom 4rtk uses a google maps overlay and a grid to fly a predetermined path. It takes between 200-300 pictures and can come up with elevation, distance, and altitude as well as create 3D and 4D scaled diagrams of the crash area.
“That also takes away our ability, and we don’t have to use officers in the middle of traffic sometimes going 65/75 miles an hour risk getting run over by cars,” Owens said.
The second drone the department will be getting is the Mavic 2 Urban Scout. While not as sophisticated as the Phantom 4, it comes fully stocked with tools for the department to use.
“That Mavic comes with, I think, 4 different attachments,” Owens explained. “It comes with a spotlight a beacon, a speaker, and it also comes with an infrared attachment that can read body signatures, or body heat signatures.”
This drone will help police be able to track down fugitives that have run away by flying above and being able to see the suspect before possibly being ambushed. It can also help in search and rescue missions, and missing person cases.
“So, there is a lot of good functionalities with the drones that we have purchased. We’ve purchased one phantom 4rtk that’s going to be used by the traffic division and were going to buy 2 Mavic Urban Scout drones. 1 for day shift and 1-night shift so we will have 24-hour coverage with the Mavic,” Ownes said.
He said the drones will not be used to spy on people but to help improve safety, patrol, and crime scene mapping with overhead photography. The police department’s new drones will be in operation later this summer.
The department paid a little over $18,000 for the 3 new drones.