MEDINA, Ohio — The Medina County Sheriff's Office reports drone video technology is serving a growing role among a team of county police agencies, including the arrest of two suspects during an Interstate 71 pursuit.
Sergeant Samantha Turner told News 5 the sheriff's office teamed up with the Brunswick Hills Township Police and its drone operator, Patrolman Zachary Getto, to successfully arrest two men who led police on a January 15 high speed chase. Turner said the two men refused to pull-over during a traffic stop attempt, after their vehicle was identified as being owned by a suspended driver.
Police report the chase, captured on dash camera video, started on I-71 northbound at mile marker 212, and ended at mile 203 after police were forced to use stop spikes on the road. Turner said two suspect in the car bailed out of the vehicle and into a marsh area filled with reeds and heavy brush.
That's when Patrolman Getto used his Mavic 3 drone to provide live overhead video of the suspects to police, which gave officers the critical information they needed to make what could have been a difficult nighttime arrest.
“It was maybe two minutes before I found the heat signature walking through the reeds," Patrolman Getto said. “We were able to communicate that to the deputies who were on foot, I got the drone over top of them."
"The officers that were on the ground have the comfortability knowing that I can see if they have a gun, or if they’re hiding something, or if they try throwing something," Getto added. “They’re trusting in me to give them the correct information, to give them the correct location.”
Sgt. Turner confirmed the drone helped her team make an effective arrest, without incident, following an active pursuit.
"The drones have great scene lights that can come on, so the area was pretty well lit-up," said Turner. “It helps that we can have this safe way of finding people, we knew exactly where they were going, we had the drone right above the reeds. It definitely helps to give us the opportunity to lead them to us, instead of us going in there and stumbling upon them.”
Sgt. Turner said the suspects have been charged with felony failure to comply with police and misdemeanor obstructing official business, but said it's still not clear why the suspects fled from police.
Captain Kevin Ross with the Medina County Sheriff's Office told News 5 drones are being used in a growing number of first responder emergency situations. Ross credited outstanding collaboration among more than a dozen Medina County police agencies as being another factor in effective drone use.
Patrolman Getto believes drones will continue to play and larger and larger role in assisting safety forces in the coming years.
“It's just being able to see everything, the cameras are so unbelievably detailed," Getto said. “We used it the other night to find hotspots in a house fire, you can use it for missing elderly, missing juveniles and more.”