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Michigan State Police may soon be first in U.S. to use aerial drones

Detroit as seen from a "drone" armed with a camera.
user Tretch5000

The Michigan State Police could soon blaze new ground in law enforcement.

They're on track to become the first police force in the country to be allowed to use an aerial drone just about anywhere in the state.

Chad Livengood of the Detroit News Lansing Bureau said these drones – remote-controlled miniature helicopters – would be used primarily at the scenes of road accidents. They would fly above the sight of a crash to take hundreds of pictures in order to recreate the scene for police officers.

Without these drones, police officers take photos and investigate the scene of an accident from the ground, an ordeal that takes a while.

“That’s just a very time consuming endeavor in any two- or three-car crash on the highway, when the highway’s backed up for four or five hours, it’s purely because the investigation is going on,” Livengood said.

Drones, however, could reduce investigation time significantly. He said Ontario’s provincial police have used drones and have seen cars begin moving within 20 minutes. Without the drones, he said, dissipating the crash scene would have taken around three hours.

While these drones would primarily be used for traffic accident scenes, search and rescue missions could also benefit from them.

“It’s something the state police thinks could change their accident scene response and change the way they do law enforcement at the scene of an accident,” Livengood said.

To hear more, listen to our conversation with Livengood above.

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