August 13, 2015 6:05 pm
Updated: August 14, 2015 9:16 am

Lethbridge police taking to the skies to fight crime with drones

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WATCH ABOVE: The Lethbridge Regional Police Service has invested in three drones, but they don’t come without controversy. Global’s Kimberly Tams reports.

LETHBRIDGE- It was called a historic day for the Lethbridge Regional Police Service, as the force added some new “members” on Thursday. The aircraft are super-tools, better known as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) or drones.

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“You can’t put into words the bird eye view of a scene,” said Constable Johnathan Blackwood. “To be able to add that to an investigation and to show some of the area that a scene totally encompasses is a huge benefit. It doesn’t put anyone in harm’s way to gather information we need to help assist us do our job.”

The UAVs can reach speeds of 53 kilometres per hour and can fly up to 0.09 kilometres within city limits.

The drone program was first launched in May following extensive research, testing and consultation with Transport Canada. LRPS said it’s already been used for traffic collisions, missing persons cases and in the high-profile triple homicide in April.

“There were some thoughts that the person may have left the scene, so we were gathering information that our forensic unit was investigating at the time. They needed a full picture of the area and how large of an area this horrible incident happened,” said Blackwood.

Before the drone can take flight police must first get approval from Transport Canada for both the location and reason for using it.

“I still have to every year apply for a special certificate through Transport Canada,” said Blackwood. “I can’t actively patrol an area if I don’t have a reason to be in the air.”

Blackwood said drones in police work is the future of crime fighting and is extremely cost effective, estimating the total cost of his fleet at $5,000.

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