Pubdate: Wed, 15 Nov 2017
Source: Chatham Daily News, The (CN ON)
Copyright: 2017 Chatham Daily News
Author: Ellwood Shreve
Page: A1


Report looks at return on investment for technology

The use of a drone has provided some cost savings for the Chatham-Kent
Police Service, but that wasn't the purpose for obtaining the
technology, says Chief Gary Conn.

"The true value is in life-saving and how does one attach a dollar
figure to a person's life? You just can't," the chief said.

Conn presented a return on investment report to the Chatham-Kent
Police Services board on Tuesday regarding the first six months since
police bought the drone for more than $110,000.

Conn's report outlined that the drone has been deployed 25 times for
operational purposes since May, including motor-vehicle crashes,
missing persons investigations, criminal investigations, police
assistance matters and community service initiatives. It has also been
deployed 20 times for training and orientation purposes.

Conn said in his report the drone has two main purposes -
complementing police activities to improve public and officer safety,
and capturing efficiencies whenever possible.

With respect to marijuana eradication, Conn's report noted the drone
is not only able to pinpoint where marijuana plots are located in
cornfields, it can also detect if someone is hiding in the field
trying to protect the illegal crop.

Conn said the eradication was done in three days, instead of four,
providing an estimated savings of $2,500. The use of two UAS
operators, rescheduled on regular time, provided another $4,860 in
overtime savings.

The chief said the mapping obtained from reconstructing serious
motor-vehicle collisions is reducing hours spent by officers to do
investigations as well as the amount of time roads need to be closed.

If courts accept scale images from a drone, this could save an
estimated $400 per collision, Conn said, adding at an average of 20
serious collisions a year, the savings could reach $8,000.

Using a drone for missing persons is a particular advantage, the chief
said, citing the fact the municipality covers 2,400 square kilometres,
with much of it being rural.

Noting that typically the 13-member Critical Incident Response Team,
and other officers that can be pulled from general duty, would respond
to a search for a missing person in a wooded or agricultural area,
Conn said, "the drone can do it in a fraction of time."

He added the device also has infrared capability that can pick up
someone's body heat, even if they are unconscious.

Conn's report estimates a drone will provide a minimum of $3,510
savings for missing person searches.

The technology has also been used to assist police in suspect
searches, crime scene mapping and intelligence gathering.

Drones are becoming more common in police services, but Chatham-Kent
is the only one of its size in southwestern Ontario that owns this
technology, Conn said.

He noted the Windsor Police Service is looking at purchasing a drone
while London police already have one and are looking to buy a second.

Police services in Sarnia, LaSalle, Amherstburg and St. Thomas don't
have a drone, but they have access to adjacent police services or the
OPP, which has several drones, he added.

Conn anticipates more local officers being trained on using the drone,
which will reduce overtime costs. However, he doesn't anticipate the
police service purchasing another device.

"We're not large enough to have two."
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