HPD’s new UAV Unit hones skills

Drones helping give officers a better view from above
(Source: WAFF)
Published: Apr. 17, 2019 at 6:31 PM CDT
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HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) - Huntsville police officers are taking crime fighting to a new level and it’s giving them another vantage point when they respond to different scenes.

The department now has eyes in the sky to help them work cases.

On Thursday, the UAV Unit was training how to do accident reconstruction with drones.

“We are setting up vehicles as if they are in an accident and we’re using the UAVs to capture photographs from an aerial few. So that we can overlay those photos and get a really good reconstruction of the accident and how it happened,” said Officer Whitney Somerville.

The team is getting lots of flight time. They did 40 hours of training in the fall and now they're doing a three-day course. They'll have another training event in May. The department has 10 certified UAV pilots and 7 aircraft.

"We're doing training with the new UAVs we're getting. We just stood up the unit. Hopefully, it will help us with some versatility in catching the bad guys that try to run away and more with accident reconstruction, as well as search and rescue which will probably be our primary thing," explained Officer Cameron Evergin.

(Source: WAFF)

The officers also have a night waiver so they can fly UAVs at night.

And their drones are equipped to fly in the dark with infrared technology.

“I think it’s going to make things a lot easier, especially having that aerial view. It’s something we don’t have right now so just being able to just pull it out of our car and have it at our fingertips, it’s going to be a big help,” Officer Somerville stated.

HPD is adding the latest drone technology to their fleet. Cameras have thermal imaging cameras, a spotlight, speakers, high powered zoom and 4K quality video.

“It’s always better to look at something from a bird’s eye view. That’s what this gives us without having to use helicopters or anything else- an enormous range of capabilities,” Evergin said.

It gives officers a front row seat to what's going on- an integral part of policing moving forward.

“Being able to be on the forefront of anything new in the department is actually really good so I’m excited,” Evergin added.

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