Madison Police Department’s Drone Team proves crucial in Fitchburg arrest

A recently acquired tool helped the Madison Police Department locate an alleged armed robber who stole items from a taxi driver in Fitchburg.
Updated: Mar. 23, 2022 at 10:04 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - A recently acquired tool helped the Madison Police Department locate an alleged armed robber who stole items from a taxi driver in Fitchburg.

Last week, the Fitchburg Police Department explained that the man allegedly pointed an unknown object at the driver’s chest, stole some personal items, and fled into the woods. Madison PD used a drone and K-9 unit, eventually finding the suspect in the brush.

MPD South District Capt. Mike Hanson explained that the MPD drone team started in 2017 but received recent upgrades. The team is now working with new faster, and more agile drones. Hanson said once officers knew where the suspect was, they could use the thermal drone to track him.

Thermal imaging technology can also alert officers of what a suspect is doing and the situation they’re entering. Hanson said thermal imagery technology is a game-changer.

“We’re able to track this individual and anyone else from a distance, and should they either fall through the ice or something happen to them, we can locate and hover right over them to deploy even more resources,” Hanson said. “So in every sense of the word, this drone is a game-changer, and we’re excited to have it as part of our tool in the tool belt.”

Hanson said the team goes through training every year and must be FAA-certified to fly a drone. Officers go through a four-day class before taking a two-hour FAA test to join the team. Once on the team, officers continue training with eight-hour days six times each year.

“So right away, we hear every call that comes out, and so our team is thinking, ‘is a drone applicable to the situation?’” Hanson said. “So they would have already been thinking if this guy is running or trying to evade law enforcement, this might be an applicable use of the drone.”

This incident was the first time so far this year that the team has used a drone to catch a suspect, Hanson noted. The drone team has used their technology in the past to search for missing persons, including seniors and children.

Copyright 2022 WMTV. All rights reserved.