The Regina Police Service (RPS) Traffic Unit will soon be deploying a new evidence gathering tool, but don’t expect to see it on the road.
The RPS received a new DJI Phantom 4 Pro unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) on Friday. Constable Curtis Warnar said that it can provide a valuable bird’s eye view of collision scenes.
“Say if we were doing a scene here and you had some skid marks or roadway evidence, you’re only seeing one angle versus when you can get up in the air and see the full picture,” Warnar explained.
This full picture can add valuable perspective such as providing evidence of exactly how far a vehicle had the opportunity to stop before a collisions. Warnar said this evidence can be difficult to visually present in court with ground level photography.
Piloted with an iPhone, the Phantom was chosen by the RPS because it is user friendly and has built in safety features, like collision avoidance technology and an automatic, GPS directed “home” command.
In addition to high resolution photos, this UAV can shoot 4K video. Warnar said this can be used for even greater evidence gathering.
“Say if we wanted to do a reconstruction, say we have a pedestrian fatality and we want to go out reconstruct that collision, put the pedestrian on the road, put the vehicle on the roadway, we can actually video that collision,” he explained.
Currently, only the RPS Traffic Unit is slated to use the Phantom. Warnar added that some of the Forensic Identification unit members will be trained for use on outdoor crime scenes.
Transport Canada will need to certify the RPS for UAV use before the Phantom can enter the field. That process is currently underway.
A training school is also being set up by the RPS to teach officers how to properly pilot and use the UAV.
Warnar said he is under the impression the Phantom will primarily be used by traffic, but said there is greater potential, citing a few police services in Ontario.
“Say we might have a firearms call where we’re not comfortable sending our members too close to the scene. So potentially you can put the UAV up and gather some intelligence about the house,” he explained.
“Say a suspect is in the backyard with a firearm and we don’t want to get too close to him, we could put the UAV up and get some information that way.”