Drones Used As First Responders

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When a crime is committed within a mile of the Chula Vista Police Department in southern California, chances are the first on the scene will be a drone. The police in the community near San Diego are the first to get an FAA waiver to fly over buildings and people to help officers assess a situation and decide on an appropriate response. "With drones, officers can see if suspect has that weapon so they can plan that game plan or that avenue of approach that's safer," said Chief Roxana Kennedy.

Under the experimental program, certificated police pilots control the aircraft from the roof of the police building and can monitor the view below on their phones or on monitors. The drones must be operated within visual line of site within a mile of the police station, at least for now. In the first week, the drones responded to 30 calls and got to those calls within two minutes. The department eventually wants to operate drones from the roof of every fire station in Chula Vista. "If we got to that model, we'd be able to respond to any call for service in the city of Chula Vista in two minutes, and give real-time data quality decision to any police officer, live via their phone," said CVPD Capt. Vern Sallee.

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