OPD using drones to help investigations

Local News

OWENSBORO, Ky. (WEHT) Owensboro Police investigate crashes, crimes and other incidents from the ground. Now, they have a way to investigate them from the air with drones.

They weigh a few pounds and fly several hundred feet in the air, giving OPD new views they usually don’t have on investigations.

“It gives us the tool to have access to a bird’s eye view,” said Lt. Adam Johnston of the Owensboro Police Dept.

Ten officers are part of their Unmanned Aerial Vehicle, or drone, team. They’ll use it on crash and crime scene reconstructions, search and rescue missions and other moments when it’s too dangerous for an officer.

“If you have a missing child or a missing subject that has walked off from somewhere, it can cover a lot more ground from above than from the ground,” Lt. Johnston says.

“I’ve flown drones prior to joining the team,” adds Officer Andrew Boggess. “You have to know not just the FAA regulations, but also department policies. There’s some legal precedent as to what we can do and when we can’t do it.”

Lt. Johnston says they started using the drones a few months ago, including during a recent fatal crash. It cost them $2,300, and use will depend on FAA and department rules.

“If we have to get consent from a home owner to fly over a residence, or if we need to take a search warrant out that otherwise we would not be able to fly, we can do that which then gives us permission, just like if an officer to be on a scene,” he explained.

Drones are already used by Kentucky State Police and other agencies nationwide. Police say changing technology will be a factor in if they get more.

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(This story was originally published on February 26, 2020)

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