State drone program to help ease traffic delays, protect officers

State drone program to help ease traffic delays, protect officers

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - The Alabama Law Enforcement Agency has a new drone program aimed to help ease traffic and protect law enforcement officers.

Special Agent Senior Jason Powell said it typically can take hours for officials to map out crash scenes and clear the roadways. However, Powell said, the state’s drones will map a crash scene within nine to 20 minutes.

Powell said one goal is to limit traffic delays. ALEA also uses drones to survey hostage situations, natural disasters and crime scenes.

“With the drone, we’re allowed to get up and see the scene before any officer arrives on the scene close enough to be put in harm’s way,” Powell said. “We’ve recently used them in a couple of hostage situations."

The drones have also been used to help investigate Aniah Blanchard and former Sheriff John Williams’ cases.

The state began using drones in September. The department currently has 16 drones and wants eventually expand the program. The state also uses the drones to help local law enforcement agencies that may need them.

Powell said states including Mississippi, Tennessee and Georgia have similar drone programs.

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