Savannah police to add eyes in sky for variety of calls

September 2, 2018

SAVANNAH, Ga. (AP) — Police in Savannah plan to use drones to help in a variety of situations, such as searches for missing persons and car crash investigations.

The city recently issued a bid request to purchase three drones, each with their own specialized features for different scenarios, The Savannah Morning News reported .

Police say high-resolution cameras will provide a full picture of accident scenes, while thermal imaging can be used to pick up the heat signatures of missing people.

“You take a picture and you know what you see in the lens, but what prints out is just a piece of paper,” interim Savannah Police Chief Mark Revenew said. “Having that whole aerial view is amazing.”

The drone for Special Weapons And Tactics (SWAT) calls will be able to snake through a building to locate suspects and identify innocent bystanders. The drone could even examine bombs, Revenew said.

“You’d be able to get a better view of the package without putting officers at risk,” he said.

Savannah joins at least three other police departments in Georgia using drones, including the city of Duluth and Gwinnett and Henry counties.

Gwinnett County police have benefited from using the devices since late 2015, mostly by providing improved documentation of accident scenes, but also assisting in the occasional SWAT operation, Gwinnett Master Police Officer Michael Niziurski said.

There has also been some cost savings achieved by not having to call in a helicopter when an accident called for a higher vantage point, Niziurski said.

“You’ve got everything in one picture,” he said. “For some people it’s hard to piece everything together versus with this everything is held together in one shot.”

State legislation governing drone usage, which was adopted last year, follows the regulations of the Federal Aviation Administration, which includes restrictions regarding hovering heights and where the devices can fly, said Rep. Ron Stephens, R-Savannah.


Information from: Savannah Morning News, http://www.savannahnow.com

Update hourly