The Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation is offering to take aerial photos of schools across the state using its drones.
The photos would be used for security purposes and could help first responders in an emergency, according to BCI officials.
BCI primarily uses drones at crime scenes or to find missing people, explained Tom Stickrath, BCI superintendent. But now, the bureau will also use them for school security, he said.
Some practice photos of schools have already been taken by drones from BCI, Stickrath said.
“If there is an incident in a school, and we have these photographs, it can be a real help to local law enforcement,” he said.
Schools already have floor plans and other photos available to law enforcement in case of an emergency, Stickrath said. But aerial images can give first responders a better idea of different locations on school grounds, he explained.
“With the drones, we can really get in closer,” Stickrath said. “We can get some really clear shots.”
The program is voluntary and free for school districts, Stickrath said. BCI agents who are trained to fly drones will take the photographs, he added.
Several schools and law enforcement agencies have reached out to BCI expressing interest, Stickrath said.
“Safety and security – it constantly evolves,” said David Lyle, safety and security coordinator for Springfield City Schools. “It’s a job that you’re never finished.”
Lyle, also a former school resource officer, said his district is considering asking BCI to take aerial photos of its buildings.
“It’s another tool that’s going to assist us with tactical planning, preparing,” Lyle said.
School districts are asked to coordinate with their local law enforcement agency to arrange for a BCI agent to take photos, Stickrath said.