OSP Deploys Airborne Surveillance Technology Statewide, Then To Butler County

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WXIX) – The Ohio State Highway Patrol Aviation Unit is working to expand statewide technology that connects law enforcement on the ground to live feeds from planes in the sky.

The next deployment of the technology called “Downlink” will be in Butler County.

A tower will be built allowing the technology to be used with helicopters and drones at a range of up to 70 miles.

This is just one of many such towers that OSP Staff Lt. Justin Cromer hopes to someday cover the state.

Cromer heads the aviation unit. He says OSP planes can deploy anywhere in the state in 75 minutes and do the work of up to 100 ground officers.

Cromer says about 70 percent of the assignments his unit performs are for other agencies. Speed ​​control remains the primary mission, but the unit has been mobilized for other uses, including surveillance of demonstrations and search and rescue missions.

Police used Downlink during protests last year in Columbus, for example. Airborne cameras captured a man with a gun in a crowd of protesters. The plane followed the suspect out of the crowd into a neighborhood where officers made an arrest.

Downlink was also used earlier this summer to try to locate Emerie Schrandorf-Woode, who drowned in a Warren County pond.

“We don’t just look up there. We have very specific goals, ”said Cromer.

In the event of suspected criminal activity, the unit receives information on its targets which typically includes criminal history, transit vehicle, and known addresses.

“Most of the time we’re involved, I feel like we made a difference,” said Cromer. “So they wouldn’t have been found if we hadn’t been involved. “

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