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Dubuque police and fire use drones to aid in investigations and emergencies

DUBUQUE, Iowa (KWWL) — The city of Dubuque’s engineering, police, and fire departments now have eyes in the sky.

From investigating accidents and crime to catching fleeing criminals, Lieutenant Joe Messerich says drones help Dubuque police in various scenarios.

“We use the drones for everything from you know as a photography aid for our bigger crime scenes to get those good overhead shots, to search hard to reach areas for evidence


The department has seven licensed drone pilots spread out across the different divisions. Messerich says they want to make sure there is always a pilot on duty.

“Some work investigations, some work patrol, some work days, some work nights with the though process being if we need a drone pilot hopefully we’ll have one working at the time.”

Lieutenant Morgan Eitter with the fire department says the drones also keep crews safer. He says the drone is their eyes when it is too dangerous for them to get close to the scene of an emergency.

“We’ve been deployed a couple times for hazmatic responses. One of them was anhydrous ammonia. We were able to send the drone down range and keep personnel safe.”

The city’s engineering department also uses the drones for projects and tasks. They use the drones for monitoring construction progress and inspecting bridges.

There is a total of 20 drone pilots split among the city departments. Purchasing and outfitting the drones cost the city about $40,000.

Cori Hanna

Today in Iowa reporter

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