Monday, Nov 20, 2017
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Police & Fire

Toledo, Oregon police test drones

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    The DJI Matrice 100 drone can fly up to 40 mph, and a full battery charge can keep it flying for 40 minutes.

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    Toledo Police Chief George Kral, left, uses the remote controller to fly an unmanned aircraft system, the DJI Matrice 100 model, outside the Oregon city building with help from Phil Myers, co-owner of Toledo Aerial Media, on Friday.

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    Oregon Officer Mark Potter catches the department’s new drone, purchased from Toledo Aerial Media, as Toledo and Oregon police test out the new tools.

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    Oregon Detective Sgt. Kelly Thibert, left, Oregon Officer Mark Potter, Toledo Police Officer Richard Ketchum, and Toledo Aerial Media co-owner Chris Aldrich control the drones the Toledo and Oregon police departments bought.

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The drone whizzed, whirred, and zoomed hundreds of feet above the ground Friday with just a few swipes of the remote.

Below, Toledo and Oregon police officials gathered outside the Oregon city building to test the newest tool for their departments. They saw firsthand the capabilities of a small unmanned aircraft system assisting law enforcement.

Officers can use the aircraft to map locations for SWAT team raids, find illegal growing operations, and assist in pursuits, said Toledo police Chief George Kral.

It can further aid firefighters to provide quick information on a fire. If there is a serious crash, the device captures debris locations and helps reconstruct a three-dimensional model of the scene, he said.

“I think the longer we have this, the more uses we’re going to find for it,” Chief Kral said.

Both departments plan to implement the drones after officers complete training courses and certification. The pilots learn how to control the device and comply with Federal Aviation Administration rules.

Chief Kral said police will prove to residents these drones are useful for legitimate law enforcement purposes.

“We’re going to get it out on the street as much as we can,” Chief Kral said.

Toledo and Oregon police each bought one DJI Matrice 100 model drone for about $15,000. Toledo covered the costs through private dollars from the department’s Law Enforcement Trust Fund. Oregon’s purchase was approved and funded by city council.

These machines fly up to 40 mph, said Phil Myers, co-owner of Toledo Aerial Media. 

His company sold the drones police will use.

The drones can also soar thousands of feet in the air, but federal regulations require they stay below 400 feet. A full battery charge will keep a drone flying for 40 minutes. It carries multiple purposes for law enforcement, Mr. Myers said.

“They’re going to be able to take a regular photography camera off of it, and then also swap on a thermal camera that they can use for search and rescue,” he said.

Oregon Assistant Police Chief Paul Magdich said he appreciates the drone’s three-dimensional imaging. The technology will be especially valuable during court proceedings, he said.

“When you can show somebody something in a 3-D level and they can experience it the way the officers did, that has much more of an impact,” he said.

The Lucas County Sheriff’s Office decided not to purchase a drone at this time. Oregon police agreed to share its device as needed.

Contact Ryan Dunn at: rdunn@theblade.com, 419-724-6095, or on Twitter @rdunnblade.

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