Oregon Police Start Using Drones to Reconstruct Crash Scenes

With the help of manually operated drones, the Oregon State Police now have a new and safer way to process crash scenes.  

Funded through the U.S. Department of Transportation, the drones are outfitted with cameras, which they use to take pictures of the crash site.  

FASTER AND SAFER: Before the drones, officers would need to manually take hundreds of measurements while investigating a crash, but the drones are able to fly overhead and digitally reconstruct the scene. This has the dual benefit of keeping the officers away from oncoming traffic, while also allowing investigations to be conducted potentially hours faster than with previous methods. 

“You never know. A car might come through the barrier or someone might come through our closed roadway,” said Trooper Zane Grout during an interview with KATU. “So, I both felt safer, and we got the motoring public able to come through even faster than we would have otherwise.”  

SURVEILANCE AND PRIVACY: Grout also added that the drones are mainly being used to investigate crashes, addressing the concern many might have about the OSP using drones for increased surveillance: “We only respond to crash scenes. I’m not flying around people’s homes; we’re not flying above people’s cars if they’re moving or driving through the area.” 

The OSP have been careful to respect the privacy of citizens in the area, keeping the drones confined to the area of the incident. Along with this, Grout stated that the pictures are treated like any other piece of evidence: “They’re held for as long as necessary for either a criminal case, or if there is no criminal case they’re destroyed after a few months because they’re no longer needed.”  

With the successful implementation of the drones, the reconstruction team hopes to add another 10 to their fleet.  

By Thomas Nguyen 

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