Streetsboro police exploring new self-flying drone technology to help with investigations

STREETSBORO, Ohio -- Streetsboro Police Department is looking into new drone technology that could help with investigations.

Chief Darin Powers said they already have four officers who are licensed to fly drones.

"For us, probably the most common scenario we use them for is documenting crash scenes or crime scenes. You can take them up and get  photographs aerial video of scenes like that," he explained.

He said they biggest challenge they face with drones is that they have to be operated by an officer who might be needed for another emergency.

"To pull one of those people away to operate a drone might take someone off of a perimeter position or off of another assignment, so that can become problematic if you only have three officers at the scene," said Powers.

However, that may not be a problem for much longer.

The department is currently in talks with a Michigan upstart called "SkyOpz," who is designing a drone that can be sent directly to a scene. The images captured can then be viewed live through a special app.

"Once say a 911 operator gets a call, they can determine if a drone would be useful and on their screen inside of the 9-1-1 center then they can hit fly here. The enclosure will open up, the drone would launch fly up to a safe altitude and go to that site." said Randy Cummings, the company's Chief Operating Officer.

Chief Powers said he is grateful Streetsboro has become one of two departments given the opportunity to help develop the new technology.

"In law enforcement, we do see a lot of products that comes out that really had no law enforcement input and they come out with a product that really isn't ready for what we are looking for.  So this company had the foresight to go out to a couple of different agencies and say we know you have a drone program in place, we would like your help in building our product up so that's what we are going to try to do," he said,

SkyOpz hopes to have a prototype ready for test flights in Streetsboro this September.

 

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