Chula Vista PD Demos Value of Drones for ‘Contemporary Policing’


Through the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) UAS Integration Pilot Program (IPP), the Chula Vista (California) Police Department (CVPD) is demonstrating the value of drones for first response.

The test program – conducted through the City of San Diego’s selection as an IPP partner – deploys drones for proactive public safety operations. Drones equipped with software company Cape’s Aerial Telepresence platform can be deployed to a scene within two minutes from CVPD headquarters and provide police with aerial data.

The drone program is also an element of the Chula Vista Smart City Action Plan to implement technology and data tools to enhance city services, advance public safety, promote the efficient use of taxpayer dollars, engage residents, and encourage growth in the local economy.

Since CVPD began the operations on Oct. 22, a drone has been deployed more than 30 times. About 30% of those calls were related to some type of disturbance, and about 17% of the time, drone pilots were able to clear a call without ground units responding (e.g., the subjects were gone), thereby keeping officers free for higher-priority calls. The drone also was used to locate a felony domestic violence suspect in a transient camp surrounded by heavy vegetation; the drone pilot was able to safely direct officers to the camp while observing the suspect’s actions until he was arrested. A drone also was used successfully to locate and direct officers to arrest subjects on two other disturbance calls.

“I am extremely excited that the Chula Vista Police Department was selected to be part of the San Diego IPP program,” says Chula Vista chief of police, Roxana Kennedy. “Contemporary policing is very challenging, and this technology enhances the safety of our officers and the public. The concept of using drones to respond to calls quickly will ensure our officers have the information and decision-quality data to make the best choices in any given situation.”

The CVPD says it is leading the way for the future of drone integration by using Cape-enabled drones proactively in emergency situations versus traditional reactive response and support efforts. Drones now are available to assist on service calls for 10 hours per day, with plans to increase over time. The drones are being dispatched on top-priority calls in proximity of the CVPD headquarters, which is one of the heaviest call zones in the City of Chula Vista.

The Cape Aerial Telepresence platform provides a cloud-based system for drone telepresence and data management. With the ability to remotely operate responding drones and view the live video en route to the scene, Cape technology enables the real-time aerial visualization needed to prepare responding officers and to better determine and dispatch needed resources before arrival, explains the CVPD.

“Chula Vista is modeling the future of drone integration in public safety by utilizing drones as first responders,” says Chris Rittler, CEO of Cape. “We are honored to be a part of one of the first law enforcement IPP deployments in the country and to partner with Chula Vista to lead the effort in shaping the future of safe commercial drone integration in the U.S. We look forward to continuing to work with CVPD and the City of San Diego to increase the safety of residents and first responders.”

Including Cape and the City of Chula Vista, the City of San Diego’s Homeland Security Department is collaborating with more than 20 regional organizations to implement the IPP. Other partners include San Diego Regional Economic Development Corp., AirMap, Qualcomm, AT&T, the California Governor’s Military Council, the California Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development, Uber, UC San Diego Health, Intel, and GE Ventures.

“The continued success of the San Diego Regional UAS IPP will benefit residents and businesses, as well as government agencies,” says John Valencia, the City of San Diego’s homeland security director. “This program will greatly enhance the safety and security of residents, particularly through the added capabilities of public safety organizations such as Chula Vista PD and San Diego Fire-Rescue. Drones will help us save lives.”

“AirMap is proud to support Chula Vista Police Department and Cape with technology for assessing the airspace environment of each drone flight,” notes Sezen Jones, counsel at AirMap. “AirMap’s drone traffic management infrastructure is essential to scaling these life-saving drone operations while keeping skies and citizens safe.”

The San Diego regional IPP is one of 10 agencies nationwide chosen to participate in the federal drone testing program.

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