WA police using aerial video to fight crime

Footage saves resources, leads to convictions

Western Australian (WA) Police is reporting resource savings and police safety improvements since a real-time aerial video system was introduced in July.

The system provides aerial sensor vision to Police and related government agencies to improve the safety and efficiency of frontline policing.

A WA Police Air Wing spokesperson told Computerworld Australia that the addition of the system has proved useful for incidents such as vehicle pursuits.

“It allows for the Duty Inspector to gain a better appreciation of the situation and therefore make better informed decisions," the spokesperson said. "It also assists in siege situations where you have a person who has barricaded themselves into a house as it allows you to provide much greater situational awareness to the tactical commander.

"He doesn't have to jeopardise the safety of his staff as the aerial image ensures that the outside of the property can be cleared for hazards and also instant recognition if the person of interest leaves the house.”

The spokesperson said aerial video was very important for WA Police as it not only improved the safety of Police officers and the community, but also provided for better decision making.

“Policing is a risky and resource-intensive activity and any way we can reduce risk and create efficiencies, particularly in regards to the deployment of resources, is a win for us,” the spokesperson said.

By way of example, the spokserson said the alternate to searching for an offender using real-time aerial video would be for a far greater number of officers to search on foot, or to additionally use horses and dogs.

“Using the helicopter, we can just have a basic perimeter manned by police and the aircraft can conduct the search using the forward looking infrared (FLIR) camera suite and then either track the offender or guide officers to their location," the spokesperson said. "To search manually on foot would also require taking police from their other duties."

The spokesperson said the imagery primarily assists in the apprehension of offenders but can also be used as evidence.

“Once the offender is apprehended it then takes them out of the offending cycle as bail restrictions can be placed upon them so this helps in reducing crime,” the spokesperson said.

To date imagery has been presented in court for driving offences.

“It is often the case that a person quickly changes their plea once they are given a copy of the footage,” the spokesperson said.

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