Renton police: Drones save time, help investigators

RENTON, Wash. — Renton police are using drones to map crime scenes. The department formally launched the program in August. After two months, KIRO 7 checked to see how the drones are working.

The drones take photographs that are entered into a computer program to map a crimes scene. The process is called photogrammetry.




Traffic Detective Ralph Hyett says the drones save time and give investigators more detailed information.

There was a fatal DUI crash on Grady Way on September 21. Investigators say they were able to shut down the road for less than an hour because they used the drone; otherwise, the process would have taken more than three hours.

"You have a one-time shot to get it and with this, it is much easier," Hyett said.

It used to take a team of officers hours using survey equipment to map out an accident or crime scene. They could have 100-300 measurement points in that crime scene.

Using the drones gives them closer to 24 million points -- all information that can help investigators. Detective Hyett also said the drone allows them to have the actual vehicles in the crime mapping, instead of an animation.

KIRO 7 noticed drones at other crimes scene in South King County in the last month and asked if other agencies were starting drone programs. It turns out Renton Police are being asked to help other agencies, by bringing their drones and mapping program.

The drones, camera, and computer program cost about $30,000.

Investigators say it is well worth it and say other police departments have been contacting them about the program.

"The city's always been ahead of the curve and it still is," Hyett said.

Renton Police are using drones for mapping crime and accidents scenes. Alison Grande explains how they're used here.

Posted by KIRO 7 News on Tuesday, October 4, 2016