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Idaho State Police Using Drones for ‘Bird’s-Eye View’ Surveillance

Troopers in Idaho are using unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to collect information at crime scenes, among other evidentiary gathering uses.

JEROME, Idaho – Count a half dozen unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to the ranks of the Idaho State Police (ISP).

ISP officials say the drones offer a unique perspective from above and who better to benefit from the view than law enforcement?

“The best feature for this is, it gives you the bird’s-eye view,” ISP Captain Ismael Gonzales tells kmvt.com.

The aerial perspective helps troopers collect information at crime scenes and crash sites, among other evidentiary gathering uses.

“It can be beneficial and just as many aspects of public safety period,” says ISP Captain John Ganske, a drone pilot and director of ISP’s drone program.

It can also provide insight in the prosecuting phase.


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“For our jurors to actually be able to see a bird’s-eye view of what actually happened and what took place during a crash scene or crime scene investigation or anything like that,” says Gonzales.

Thirteen pilots throughout the state with FAA certifications have been flying the drones for the past year or so, and they have found many situations where the devices are necessary.

“For example when it was used during the floods there’s aerial views to give people really the scope of what’s going on,” says Gonzales.

But as technology progresses more and more other agencies may soon be adding them to their team.

“I think we’re starting to see that the technology is climbing fast with the whole drone technology, so prices are coming down for the aircraft so their more affordable,” says Ganske.

Ganske, who has served with the ISP for almost three decades, says he never could have imagined he would be flying UAVs to assist with investigations.


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“When I started there we didn’t have cell phones and you know how that’s changed our everyday lives,” says Ganske. “I anticipate our new troopers starting out are going to see unbelievable things we can’t even imagine.”

ISP purchased the drones, which can fly up to 400 feet in the air, for about $1,500. Officials say the drones are operated within legal constraints and oftentimes can only be used for surveillance after a search warrant has been obtained.

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