CSI from the air: Melbourne police get drone for crime scenes

By Greg Pallone, Brevard County Reporter
Last Updated: Friday, March 17, 2017, 5:49 PM EDT

Melbourne Police are going high tech to fight crime.

And when we say "high," we mean up in the air.

  • Melbourne Police drone will help document crime scenes
  • Catch evidence without disturbing it
  • Cost to department was $2,000

A drone is their newest tool to fight crime, allowing investigators to document crime scenes from the air.

"With a drone, when you point a camera straight down, you're going to get the whole street, more of a depth of field," said Ron Streiff, pilot of MPD's new drone. "We are using it to document the evidence items."

"A helicopter can only get so low to the ground before it absolutely destroys evidence," Kristen Meadows, Melbourne Police CSI, said.

Until now, MPD relied on the Brevard Sheriff's Office helicopter to video and photograph scenes from above. But the lightweight and versatile drone changes that.

"We can fly this thing within five feet of the ground and it won't disturb any evidence," said Meadows.

Before this drone can even fly, investigators have to notify the control tower at the Orlando Melbourne International Airport.

Then they go through a strict pre-flight checklist, passing along how high they will fly and monitoring weather conditions.

And speaking of strict, Streiff, once just an amateur pilot, had to go through a rigorous eight-month training course to become certified.

"It's controlled, it's not going to be a nuisance. We are not going to be dive bombing people or flying over people's houses," stressed Streiff.

A bargain, say police, at a cost of $2,000.

One other Florida police agency is drone-certified -- Miami-Dade. Melbourne police expect to put their drone to use very soon.