Agencies fight crime with drones


Associated Press

TOLEDO

No longer a novelty, drones are becoming an everyday tool for more police and fire departments, new research has found.

The number of public safety agencies with drones has more than doubled since the end of 2016, according to data collected by the Center for the Study of the Drone at New York’s Bard College.

The center estimated that just over 900 police, sheriff, fire and emergency agencies now have drones, with Texas, California, and Wisconsin leading the way, the study showed.

While many law enforcement drone units are just getting started and are in place in just a fraction of the public safety agencies around the country, police and fire departments are continuing to find new uses for the remote-controlled aircraft.

They’re being deployed to take photos of car accidents, guide firefighters through burning buildings and search for missing people and murder suspects.

Some believe they will change policing much like laptops in patrol cars, two-way radios and K-9 units.

The sheriff’s office in Ohio’s Putnam County, a rural area dominated by farmland, added a drone last year after a deputy brought his own drone from home to help search for two men who broke into a farm building.

“We realized how useful it could be,” said Sheriff Brian Siefker, who said the department has since used the drone on accident investigations and to search for marijuana growing in cornfields.

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