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Drone as a First Responder program recognized.

Post Date:03/12/2019 8:57 AM

On Saturday, March 9, 2019, the California Police Chief’s Association (CPCA) awarded the Chula Vista Police Department the 2019 CPCA & Motorola Technology Innovation Award for the department’s ground-breaking work on its Drone as a First Responder program. The award recognizes a California municipal police agency’s superior achievement and innovation in the field of technology.

CVPD is the first agency in the nation to pioneer the Drone as a First Responder (DFR) model, where drones are integrated into proactive daily emergency response operations. In May 2018, CVPD was selected as a partner in the San Diego Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) Integration Pilot Program (IPP) from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT). The San Diego IPP was one of only 10 areas chosen by the FAA to explore ways to safely integrate commercial drones into the National Airspace (NAS).

The San Diego IPP team, coordinated by the City of San Diego Office of Homeland Security, consists of several public/private partnerships designed to accelerate the approval of UAS systems (drones) within the FAA’s regulatory authority. For its part in the IPP, CVPD partnered with Cape Aerial Telepresence, a leading cloud-based platform for drone telepresence and data management, to conceive and launch the DFR program. Within the San Diego IPP, CVPD and Cape worked together to secure special permission from the FAA, called a Certificate of Authorization (COA), to launch drone flights from the station to respond to emergency calls for service.

Using the DFR model, CVPD flies up to 10 hours a day, four days a week, to priority calls for service in support of CVPD officers responding to calls. The drone is based on the roof of police headquarters and can respond to emergency calls within a one-mile radius of the station. The department is working with the FAA and technology partners to expand this radius with technology so that it can fly Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS), thus impacting more calls.

To date, CVPD has flown over 350 missions, responded to 284 calls for service and aided or been present for 42 arrests. The drones have been first on scene on 128 calls and 35 calls were handled by drone only, without having to dispatch ground units. The average response time by a DFR drone is an incredible 115 seconds from the time it is dispatched to when it arrives on scene where it can live stream video footage to up to 50 responding units, including supervisors and managers.

Chula Vista Police Chief Roxana Kennedy views the DFR concept as a valuable de-escalation tool. Chief Kennedy noted, “The most important consideration on any call is the safety of the public, the officers and those involved on the call. The birds-eye view of the drone provides real-time footage to responding officers, giving them the best information possible about the tactics and tools they may need and how they should approach. This in turn gives our officers and supervisors better information on how to most safely respond to each unique situation. De-escalation starts with intelligence, and DFR gives us invaluable information before the first officer ever arrives on scene.”

For more information about CVPD’s UAS/DFR Program, the San Diego IPP, the FAA IPP program and Cape Technologies, see the following links:

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