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Tacoma-based Detective Sergeant Clint Thomas holds one of the Washington State Patrol’s 111 drones, a DJI Matrice 200 model.

OLYMPIA, Wash. — In the span of just a few years, the Washington State Patrol has built up a fleet of more than 100 drones. At last check, the Oregon State Police had three. The Washington patrol says its small quadcopters are used for crash investigations, not for surveillance. WSP Detective Sgt. Clint Thomas said roughly 100 state troopers and detectives across Washington are now trained to fly camera-equipped drones — also known as UAVs, unmanned aerial vehicles.

Thomas said the patrol has acquired 111 drones made by DJI, some of which are higher-end consumer models. Others are a more robust commercial enterprise model. The state may upgrade and further expand its fleet with a fresh infusion of cash recently approved by the state Legislature.

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