During its first official mission, a police drone equipped with a thermal imaging camera helped quickly locate a suspect hiding in the Ohio woods.
On Jan. 18, the Ohio Highway Patrol and Ottawa County deputies were called to the scene of the accident on Ohio State Highway 2 and Tettau Road in Erie.
At the scene of the accident, police found a badly damaged car and a utility pole with wires dangling precariously from Highway 2.
The vehicle continued after passing through the fence and into the cemetery, where several headstones were broken. However, the driver who caused the accident fled the scene on foot, and his whereabouts are unknown after the incident.
"We've been out looking for him for hours," Ottawa County Sheriff Stephen Levorchick told WDTN. "We got a call at dawn from a resident about a mile from the crash site. They put The dogs were let out and they saw someone running out of their barn."
Police drone with thermal camera quickly locates suspects
Officials turned to their counterparts in Port Clinton because they had just recently acquired a drone equipped with a thermal imaging camera.
"This is the first time we've absolutely been able to go out and use imaging," said Mike Kilburn, public information officer for the Port Clinton Police.
A police drone was launched into the air and officers used its thermal imaging capabilities to track down the suspect, who is now racing through the woods as officers pursue him.
According to Levorchick, a soldier observed the suspect, which caused him to turn around and run in the opposite direction, which allowed the officers to eventually catch up to him with the help of the K-9.
"The man gave up, put his hands up and put them down, and when the dog came up to him to arrest him, the sergeant stopped him and told him to lie down," Levorchick said.
The entire pursuit was filmed by a police drone. According to the sheriff, the drone video showed the perfect interaction with a 24-year-old man from North Olmsted who was going through a mental crisis.
The suspect was arrested and charged with obstructing government business and four counts of lesser crimes, for which he may be charged with a misdemeanor.
The fact that a police drone with a thermal imaging camera was able to complete its first official mission shows that drones have clear benefits for law enforcement.
The Autel EVO II Dual 640T is a drone that can be equipped with a thermal imaging camera and is very popular with police and first responders.
Police drones can be deployed faster than helicopters
Drones can be put into service much faster than helicopters, and they cost a fraction of the cost of manned aircraft.
Port Clinton Police Chief David Scott said the new police drones could be used in a variety of situations, including assisting in the search for missing persons.
According to Levorchick, footage from this mission can be used as a tool for training purposes and to see how deputies and their K-9s behave in the field, which he calls "perfect" in this case.