CASE STUDY: Police Derive Benefits from Investigate Accidents with Drones

Gwinnett County Police Department using a drone to investigate accidents

SUMMARY: UAV's represent an extremely efficient tool for law enforcement personnel to use when investigating accidents. Drones can be rapidly deployed to help police capture a bird's eye perspective of the scene and learn details than may be otherwise unseen from ground level. PROBLEM: Police accident investigators often need to take an aerial photo of an accident scene. Most law enforcement agencies do not have access to an aviation unit for such purposes. Historically, many police departments have relied on the ladder truck from the local fire department to come out to the scene and send their ladder into the air so an accident investigator can take photographs. This process is extremely time consuming, ties up a valuable resource of the local fire department, and often leads to congested traffic on closed roadways.

SOLUTION: A drone allows police to quickly capture needed aerial photographs from an accident scene, and can also provide a live video feed of the scene to responders on the ground to assess the situation in real time. This reduces the amount of time wasted on scene, preserves the fire department ladder truck for firefighting and rescue missions, and gets traffic flowing along the roadway much more quickly.

“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 Gwinnett County (GA) Police Department Accident Investigation Unit. Smith anticipates the drone will soon have additional use beyond just investigating accidents. “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.

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