Chula Vista Police Continue Transparency Efforts on Drone Use


California’s Chula Vista Police Department (CVPD) is allowing the public to get an in-depth look at its unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) program at an event later this week.

Chula Vista residents and businesses are invited to attend a community forum on the CVPD’s use of drones this Thursday, Feb. 7. The department has begun deploying UAS in response to 9-1-1 calls as part of San Diego’s participation in the federal UAS Integration Pilot Program. The camera-equipped drones can provide police with visual information before patrol cars and officers arrive, explains the CVPD, which has stressed transparency and the opportunity for public input on its drone use for several years. In 2016, the department formed a UAS committee to study the technology, with a focus on addressing concerns about public trust.

The forum will provide an opportunity for community members to get an up-close look at the devices the CVPD is using. The forum will also answer questions about the limits on drone operations, including policies designed to protect residents’ safety and privacy. Attendees will be invited to provide comments and participate in follow-up focus groups or meetings.

Last year, Cape, a cloud platform for drone telepresence and data management, partnered with the City of San Diego to launch a drone initiative for the San Diego Fire Department. The company then began launching deployments with the CVPD.

Speakers at Thursday’s forum will include City Manager Gary Halbert, Police Chief Roxana Kennedy, Police Captain Vern Sallee, Police Lieutenant Chris Kelley, Economic Development Director Eric Crockett and Cape representative Fritz Reber.

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.

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