Local police using drones to investigate crimes, crashes faster

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AUBURN, Wash. - The Auburn Police Department has launched a new program to investigate crimes and crashes faster than ever before.

The department has a team of officers using drones.

KIRO 7's Jeff Dubois recently saw the drone in action in Auburn.

A car lost control last month on 304th Street near Green River College, hit the roundabout and smashed into an electrical box, cutting power to hundreds of people.

The electrical box was ripped out of the ground.

Police officers took measurements as normal, but instead of using the old, time-consuming method of recreating the crash scene, they used the data points and a drone to create a 3-D image of the area.

They uploaded the information to the drone, which developed a flight path, and after a manual take-off, the drone ran on autopilot.

In a flight lasting only 2 or 3 minutes, the drone was able to take around 80 still photos of the area, which was then be turned into a 3-D image that could be completely manipulated to see different angles.

“This allows us to go aerially, take those photos and do much of the work in the office after that fact, so we don't have spend as much time on the scene itself,” said Derek Anderson with Auburn police.

The old-fashioned way takes 10 to 15 hours to create a 3-D image, compared to just 2 or 3 hours with the drones.

That gets the roads open a lot faster so people's commutes aren't impacted as much.

Auburn police started using the drones late last year. They also plan to deploy them for other major crime investigations, where they can easily share the aerial images with prosecutors to be used to criminal cases.

Both Renton and Kent police departments are also using drones for police investigations.