CHULA VISTA POLICE FINALIZING DRONE USE PROCEDURES; PUBLIC INPUT WELCOMED
Soon the Chula Vista Police Department (CVPD) will have a new tool to assist their efforts of keeping the City safe. Searching for missing elderly persons and children is one example of Chula Vista’s planned use of an Unmanned Aerial System (UAS), commonly called a drone. CVPD and the Chula Vista Fire Department (CVFD) are currently being trained to use these devices in critical incidents such as missing persons, crime scenes, traffic collisions, wildfires, or special events. Equipped with a video camera, the small battery operated device is controlled by a "pilot" on the ground using a handheld controller from a safe location.
Police and Fire personnel who will fly the drone are tested by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) after studying about weather conditions, air traffic control procedures, and safety and maintenance of the drone. CVPD Drone Coordinator, Lt. Chris Kelley, said, "These drones will help make things safer for the community and enhance our response, as well as being a cost saving measure."
CVPD is currently in the final stages of research for a potential first deployment of drone use this July. A draft operation policy manual for CVPD and CVFD has been written on drone use after researching other law enforcement agencies that have the program. Drones will be deployed in accordance with the established
policy and will not be used for random surveillance activities. Like any other public safety tool, the use of drones by government agencies is subject to federal and state laws as well as the agency's policies. In respect of privacy and civil liberties, CVPD will be required to obtain consent or search warrants to use drones where there is a reasonable expectation of privacy. The draft drone policy can be viewed at http://www.chulavistaca.gov/home/showdocument?id=13928.
To ensure a transparent process, CVPD has discussed the use of drones at a public forum, at Coffee with a Cop events with Lt. Kelley, and in meetings with the ACLU. In addition, the CVPD website has a Frequently Asked Questions area that addresses drones; it can be viewed at http://www.chulavistaca.gov/home/showdocument?id=13962. All drone flights will be logged in a flight log to document the time, date, location and purpose of the flight.
Public input on drone use by CVPD is welcomed; please email UASTeam@chulavistapd.org.