On January 18, the Ohio State Highway Patrol and Ottawa County deputies were called to the scene of an accident on Ohio Route 2 and Tettau Road in Erie Township.
At the scene of the accident, the officers discovered a severely damaged car in addition to a utility pole that had wires hanging precariously over Route 2.
The vehicle had continued on its journey after driving through a fence and into a cemetery, where several headstones were broken. The driver, however, had already fled the scene on foot and was unable to be found after the accident.
“We had been out looking for a couple hours for him,” said Ottawa County Sheriff Stephen Levorchick to WDTN. “Right after it got daylight out, we got a phone call from a resident who was about a mile away from the crash scene. They had let their dogs out and they had seen someone run from their barn.”
Police drone with thermal camera locates suspect quickly
The officers called out to their counterparts in Port Clinton for assistance, as they had just recently acquired a drone equipped with a thermal camera.
“This was the first time that we were absolutely able to go out and use the imaging,” said Port Clinton Police Public Information Officer Mike Kilburn.
The police drone was launched into the air, and officers used its thermal imaging capabilities to track down the suspect, who was now sprinting through the woods with deputies pursuing him.
According to Levorchick, a trooper observed the suspect, which caused him to turn around and flee in the opposite way, which allowed the deputies to ultimately catch up to him with the assistance of a K-9.
“That person gave up, put their hands up and laid down, and as that dog arrived at his side and was just ready to apprehend him, sergeant called him off and told him to lay down,” said Levorchick.
The entire pursuit was caught on camera by the police drone as it happened. The Drone Video, according to the sheriff, demonstrates a perfect interaction with a 24-year-old man from North Olmsted who was going through a mental crisis at the time.
The suspect was arrested and is being charged with impeding government business as well as four lesser crimes for which he could be charged with misdemeanors.
The fact that the police drone with a thermal camera was able to complete its first official mission shows that unmanned aircraft have clear benefits for law enforcement.
Police drone faster to deploy than helicopter
Drones can be put into operation far more quickly than helicopters can, and they cost only a fraction of what manned aircraft do.
David Scott, the chief of police in Port Clinton, said that the new police drone is one that may be used in various situations, including assisting in the search for a missing person.
The footage from this mission, according to Levorchick, may be utilized as a tool for training purposes and to see the behaviors of both the deputies and their K-9s in the field, which he described as “perfect” in this case.
You can read more stories about drones being used for good here on DroneXL.
Drone footage via Port Clinton police
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