Commit a crime in Brookhaven? You may find a drone on your tail

·2 min read

Brookhaven police have released dramatic video of a police drone’s role in arresting a criminal suspect earlier this month.

Channel 2 Investigative Reporter Mark Winne was at the police drone base Monday, where two weeks ago, a drone helped capture a suspect in an armed robbery and shooting.

Brookhaven police Lt. Abrem Ayana said when suspects take off in Brookhaven these days, a drone often takes off, too. Twice in recent weeks, the drone has been instrumental in making arrests.

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“We always have drones available, so when this drone is not available here, we have drones in the trunk of our patrol cars,” Ayana said.

Ayana said the most recent drone-related arrest involved a serial shoplifter at Walgreens on July 7. He said someone at Walmart called in and reported a habitual shoplifter had just left with stolen items.

The drone was launched, located the suspect within minutes and kept a visual on him until Brookhaven officers arrived on the ground. The suspect tried to flee but was Tased and taken into custody.

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Ayana said it’s likely the arrest wouldn’t have happened without the drone, which was able to get there so quickly.

“It was able to give the ground units that individual’s location as he walked hastily into the MARTA station after he saw a marked unit in the area,” Ayana said.

Ayana said that on May 24, a license plate reader led a Brookhaven officer on the ground to a CVS, where he apprehended a suspect in an armed robbery in Charlotte, North Carolina. The victim had been shot several times and wounded earlier that day.

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The officer saw a second suspect who ducked into a store and eventually ran out the back.

“The drone first responded to that scene within a half a minute,” Ayana said. “The pilot was able to establish a perimeter with the officers on the ground, and on the arrival of Brookhaven police K-9s, that individual actually fled outside the perimeter to awaiting officers. We recovered a gun and cash in that incident.”

The lieutenant said that earlier Monday, a Brookhaven police drone assisted firefighters in an apartment fire.

“We used our thermal imaging to provide the location of hotspots and areas of interest for firefighters on the ground,” Ayana said.

Ayana said Brookhaven was just the third police department in America to launch a drone first responder program, and the department recently got FAA approval to fly the drone beyond visual line of sight, which allows police to fly the drone further and respond to more calls in greater Atlanta.