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Transparency in the Chula Vista PD Drone Flight Data

The Chula Vista Police Department provides the community transparency by now releasing details on it’s drone flights.
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The Chula Vista Police Department provides the community transparency by now releasing details on it’s drone flights. 

The CVPD enlisted it’s drone program to AirData UAV, a drone fleet management industry leader, to help provide information about drone flights and will provide residents with the ability to view the exact location, flight path and purpose of the flight.

“Transparency and accountability are key components in the success of our drone program which has been an invaluable tool in maintaining the safety of our officers and the public,” said Chula Vista Police Department Chief Roxanna Kennedy in a prepared statement. “We pride ourselves on ensuring the public has access to our drone flight information in upholding the trust of our community.” 

A small, remotely operated Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS), also commonly referred to as drones aided the CVPD since 2018 in investigations and to provide better situational awareness for officers to respond to calls. According to CVPD, they are an efficient and effective way of providing critical information to law enforcement in response to calls for service, emergency situations, or to conduct criminal investigations. 

In December 2015, the CVPD formed a UAS Committee to study the use of the technology in its public safety operations. According to the department, the UAS Committee members met dozens of times to study best practices, policies, and procedures regarding the use of UAS technology in law enforcement.  

“Beyond the initiative, we are always looking for ways to stay engaged with the community and empower the residents and visitors to learn more about what we do to keep our community safe. Through our dashboards we continuously share information focused on key community concerns” Kennedy said in a statement. 

According to the CVPD, a special focus of the team’s research was an effort to address concerns about public trust, civil liberties, and the public’s right to privacy during the operation of CVPD UAS systems. 

A partnership between the CVPD and CAPE developed the Concept of Operations (CONOPS). Both parties were a part of San Diego’s Integration Pilot Project (IPP) team, selected as one of only 10 teams among hundreds of applicants as a part of FAA’s Integration Pilot Project (IPP).  

The IPP was a federal initiative designed to help integrate drones into the National Air Space (NAS). According to the CVPD, CONOPS is called Drone as First Responder (DFR), and it is a transformational method of policing that has demonstrated the ability to increase officer and community safety and reduce overall police response times.

Emergency personnel have the ability to see through an overhead perspective of what is going on in an incident prior to their arrival with the help of DFR. According to the CVPD, the drone has a powerful on-board camera that streams HD video back to the department’s real-time operations center where the teleoperator, who is a trained critical incident manager, not only controls the drone remotely, but communicates with the units in the field to give them information and tactical intelligence about what they are responding to.  

The system also streams the video feed to the cell phones of the first responders, supervisors, and command staff, so they can see exactly what the drone is seeing.  

The DFR program drones have responded to over 7,000 separate emergencies in less than three years. The CVPD credited it’s drone program with 60 arrests within the first few months of operation.  

To view flight data of the DFR program, visit airdata.com.