Cape, a cloud platform for drone telepresence and data management, and the Chula Vista Police Department (CVPD) in California have announced the initial results of their Drone as a First Response (DFR) program, which is part of San Diego’s participation in the federal UAS Integration Pilot Program.
Since the DFR program’s launch in October 2018, drones equipped with the Cape Aerial Telepresence platform have conducted more than 282 flights – accounting for more than 75 hours of flight time without incident – and contributed to 20 arrests, the partners say.
In partnership with Cape, CVPD has integrated drones into daily emergency response operations. In the first four months of the deployment, the drones have proven to increase situational awareness, increase the safety of officers and surrounding community, and better inform decisions and manage resources through real-time data, according to the partners.
“The Chula Vista Police Department is at the forefront of utilizing drones to enhance the science of policing,” says Chris Rittler, CEO of Cape. “As more agencies begin to adopt drone technology, Chula Vista will undoubtedly be the agency that others from across the country look to and replicate for emergency response and support.”
As part of the program, Cape-enabled drones are dispatched to high-priority calls, such as crimes in progress, fires, traffic incidents and reports of dangerous subjects, in close proximity of the CVPD headquarters.
The drone live-streams HD video to the teleoperator in the command center, who can maneuver the drone remotely and communicate with the units in the field to give them information and tactical intelligence about what they are responding to. With the drone typically arriving on scene well before responding ground units, the command center can better identify and dispatch needed resources to the scene. Responding officers can also view the live stream en route to the scene on their mobile devices, giving them full visibility of the situation to which they are responding. Today, the drones serve as active responders for upwards of 10 hours per day, four days a week, with plans to increase over time.
Among the many examples to date, the CVPD received a dispatch call describing the location of a suspect wanted for assault with a deadly weapon. Using the Cape-enabled drone, the CVPD was able to quickly locate the suspect and communicate and coordinate with responding officers, while maintaining constant visual contact with the subject via aerial telepresence. Officers were able to safely arrest the suspect, who was charged with assault with a deadly weapon.
“Since launching the DFR program, the program is already having a significant impact on operations and resource management,” notes Roxana Kennedy, Chula Vista’s chief of police. “Real-time aerial visibility is critical when informing decisions, and in an emergency situation, is vital to the safety of our officers and citizens.”