Manitoba

Camera choppers give RCMP new view

The RCMP in Manitoba have added two helicopters to their arsenal of investigative tools, but these choppers can take photographs while the pilot stays on the ground.
The Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) will be used to take aerial photos and videos of motor vehicle collision scenes and crime scenes. (RCMP)

The RCMP in Manitoba have added two helicopters to their arsenal of investigative tools.

But for these choppers, the pilot stays on the ground.

The two Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) units will be used taking aerial photos and videos of motor vehicle collision scenes and crime scenes.

The units, which have a platform where a camera can be anchored, are controlled by a trained pilot along with another individual working the camera.

Police say the UAS will allow officers at scenes to get information in real time from a different perspective, much closer in scope than an aircraft could ever provide and at a much cheaper cost.

"It gives us another perspective of the scene," said Cpl. Byron Charbonneau of the RCMP's forensic collision reconstruction program in Winnipeg.

"It's more information to bring forward to the courts and gives the courts a better understanding of what we see from ground level."

Police say deploying the aircraft over a spill, for example, would allow officers to determine the extent of contamination, look for casualties and determine how to enter the spill area without sending in a person for such a potentially dangerous task.

The RCMP has acquired a special flight operations certificate from Transport Canada under the Canadian Aviation Regulations to operate the units under strict regulations.

The cost of a UAS ranges, depending on its configuration, to a maximum cost of about $30,000.

While its current use is focused on fatal and serious collisions along with crime scene examinations, other uses could include search and rescue, major event planning, environmental disaster response, suspicious object identification, and underwater recovery in clear shallow water, police say.

"When you're standing on the ground, taking ground-level photographs, you're basically getting a two-dimensional perspective of the world around you," Charbonneau said.

"When you get a top-down view it adds a third perspective to your investigation."

One UAS is located in Dauphin and the other in Brandon.

The UAS will allow officers at scenes to get information in real time from a different perspective.