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Cincinnati Police Using Drones To Speed Up Accident Investigations

What usually takes several hours is now being done in about 15 minutes. Cincinnati Police are using drones to diagram and reconstruct accident scenes to speed up traffic investigations."We take the drone instead of the Total Station, we fly it above the scene and we take pictures," says police specialist Rob Uhlenbrock. "We scale the photos into our software and we can create a similar diagram to what we can with a Total Station."

Total Stations are the primary devices the department uses to map crime scenes.

Uhlenbrock says an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) takes about 15 minutes to do what may take two to three hours with a Total Station.

"That's two or three hours that a road is closed and we're having to divert traffic. When we're able to fly the drones for traffic crashes, it gives us the capability to clear the scene much quicker."

Officers only use the drones in daylight now, but they'd like to add night-vision and infrared capability so they can be used for search and rescue operations.

Several other local departments are also using drones.

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A police drone hovers over this vehicle collecting data and images like it would during a crash reconstruction. The department's second, smaller drone sits in the foreground.
Tana Weingartner / WVXU
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A police drone hovers over this vehicle collecting data and images like it would during a crash reconstruction. The department's second, smaller drone sits in the foreground.
Officers can monitor the drone's camera from the controller.
Tana Weingartner / WVXU
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Officers can monitor the drone's camera from the controller.
Specialist Rob Uhlenbrock pilots the drone during a demonstration at Spinney Field.
Tana Weingartner / WVXU
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Specialist Rob Uhlenbrock pilots the drone during a demonstration at Spinney Field.