Weber County Sheriff’s Office using drones to help solve crimes faster
Sep 28, 2023, 8:05 PM | Updated: 9:08 pm
OGDEN — When a drone is launched, deputies here can quickly stream what it’s seeing to deputies in the field, even back over here at dispatch.
They started using these tools initially for search and rescue back in 2018. The drones proved to be such a valuable tool, that they’ve expanded them to other purposes, most recently for use on scene. The Weber County Sheriff’s Department now has a sort of drone command post.
This technology is changing the way Weber County deputies do their job. Where an average callout, now gets a major added advantage.
“We can actually fly four drones at once from the van, but we can also run a lot of other things logistics-wise,” says Weber County Sheriff’s Office Lieutenant Mark Horton.
This sort of mobile drone command post helps bring a lot of data all into one place.
“We also get a map of where the drone’s at, what elevation it’s at, and where the camera is looking,” Horton said.
This information they can then stream to other deputies — even outside agencies.
By using a QR code, a link quickly brings up that view from up above and deputies say it’s proving to be highly effective.
“It allowed four deputies to respond into a fenced-in lot,” says Weber County Sheriff’s office Detective Kayla Dallof, who manages the drone program and says in this example responding deputies were able to find a suspected burglar very quickly.
Police were able to track the man as he ran behind a dumpster and hide under a row of cars.
“It’s the amount of resources it takes to search that type of lot; going car to car, suspect can hide within a car, underneath a car,” Dallof says.
Typically, that type of search would take hours, but in this case deputies knew exactly where to go.
These drones are not out patrolling residents streets regularly. Deputies say this is very much a reactive tool that they plan to use often.
Thermal imaging has helped, in a number of cases, to quickly find suspects in the dark in areas where visibility is limited.
“We’ve assisted fire departments quite a bit with house fires, car fires, anything where it’s suspicious or where somebody fled or took off,” Horton said.
The Sheriff’s Office just got the drone vehicle up and running last Spring, and they will soon have it on the streets on a regular basis, as well as one of their four drones, in a patrol car for quick and easy deployment.
“We will respond to any call where we think a drone might be a benefit,” Horton said.