Police drone helps catch suspect in Washington County

NOW: Police drone helps catch suspect in Washington County

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Early this week, a man sped off from officers in Washington County after they learned he had an arrest warrant.

He crashed outside Jackson and ran into a marsh.

Police deployed a drone with an infrared camera attached.

The tool's utility is one reason drones are catching on in departments across the area.

Richard Williams was stopped on the side of Highway 60 East of Slinger half past midnight Monday.

A Washington County sheriff's deputy stopped to see what was up and learned Williams was wanted by U.S. Marshals.

When asked to get out of the car, Williams sped off toward Jackson and crashed near a marsh with a woman and baby in the backseat.

"He ran approximately 90 yards from the crash scene and then hunkered down into a marshy area," said Sheriff Martin Schulteis.

He said a deputy arrived within minutes of the crash and launched one of the department's drones.

"Had the drone up, quite honestly, within minutes and probably had the suspect located within less than 30 seconds," said Schulteis.

The department shared the video captured by the drone with CBS 58. It was using an infrared camera and it shows Williams in the marsh, eventually walking out, where he is arrested by officers. Williams faces multiple charges.

Schulteis credits the drone for helping make the arrest on a moonless night.

"We'd have to put officers' safety in jeopardy, and quite honestly, the suspect's safety in jeopardy, by putting personnel into the swamp and doing a manual search for the suspect," said Schulteis.

He expects the drones to help with search and rescues. He said they cost a fraction of a helicopter or plane.

This tool gives us the opportunity to not have to call in multiple fire departments or rely on volunteer personnel to search large areas," said Schulteis.

Milwaukee County started its drone unit in late March.

The sheriff's office will use the drones for searches, mapping crash scenes and giving a live eye in the sky to commanders.

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