The Oregon State Police is researching and testing small unmanned aircraft systems or s-AUS, also known as drones. As it flies above the crash scene, it will take a series of pictures and put them together like a mosaic or puzzle to get one big picture of what actually happened.
"It'll allows us, whether it is a crime scene or crash scene, to map it in 1/4 of the time. It's current. It's live. It's tells us exactly what it looks like when we took the pictures when the crash occurred or when the crime occurred,” said Sergeant Jeff Proulx.
OSP said it typically takes the collision reconstruction unit anywhere between 45 minutes to 2 hours to reconstruct a crash scene and clear it off the highway but with help of a drone and some other equipment, that time could be cut down significantly. Sgt. Proulx added there are some downsides. Sometimes investigators won't be able to fly because of certain weather conditions like rain.
"So it's not going to replace what we have currently which is a robotic total station. It is going to supplement the system we have now," Sgt. Proulx said.
OSP in Portland is testing drones now on a limited basis. Sgt. Proulx said it will take some time to determine which program will work best for OSP and for funding to come around. He added these drones will also be beneficial in crime scene investigations.
"He could fly that area and take those pictures like I explained and make that mosaic and put the evidence in to where it was so it's a better picture for the prosecution or the jury to see," Sgt. Proulx said.
Jackson County Sheriff's Office said deputies already use drones for that reason and in search and rescue missions and they help in their investigations.
"Drones give us a different view and that's always helpful when you're trying to get an idea of what happened and to see the relationship in different locations and evidence," said Sgt. Julie Denney.