Launching Your Agency’s Drone Program: From Planning to Take Off

Launching Your Agency’s Drone Program: From Planning to Take Off
Duration: 60 Minutes
Module 1 Module 1
Recorded on: 2021-05-27
Unit 1 Slide Deck: Launching Your Agency’s Drone Program
Unit 2 Transcript: Launching Your Agency’s Drone Program
Unit 3 Workbook: Launching Your Agency’s Drone Program

The idea of drones being used in law enforcement can raise privacy concerns from the citizens. However, there are lots of benefits to be gained from employing this emerging technology that can make all the difference in saving lives and maintaining public safety.

Captain Don Redmond from the Chula Vista Police Department leads this webinar to present how the agency implemented its successful drone program. Don began his law enforcement career with Chula Vista PD in 1996 and served in different assignments and has since risen from the ranks. He currently oversees support operations of the 911 Police Communications Center and their Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) Operations, among others.

Topics he discussed in this course include:

  • A backgrounder on Chula Vista, its police department, and the geographic features of the area that made it ideal for drone operations.
  • Terminologies and various resources related to UAS and drones.
  • The two key certifications through the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) required for individuals or organizations who intend to fly UAS/drones.
  • Addressing the public’s concerns through engagement and educational materials that are readily available online and offline, present the benefits of the technology for the community, and provide clear policies and the scope and limitations of the technology.
  • An overview of the different ways drones can be used in the first responder, public safety, and criminal justice spheres.
    • Drone in the trunk solution that equips certified officers with a drone that can be deployed as needed while they’re in the field.
    • Mapping and diagramming crime or traffic collision scenes that increases efficiencies.
    • Indoor drone flying to enter buildings and other structures for burglary alarms and tactical situations.
    • Tethered drones used for large events to have a 360-degree view of the venue.
    • Drone as first responder where the drone is deployed on the scene before any responding personnel is able to.
  • A deep dive into Chula Vista’s Drone as First Responder (DFR) Program.
    • The inception of the program: The federal directive that integrated drones into public airspace, the pilot programs launched, and the technology that allowed the capability.
    • The proactive solution provided to first responder agencies as the drones are at a ready state at all times and can be deployed immediately upon receipt of a call for service.
    • Launch ability progress that started with just one launch site and one nautical mile reach to four launch locations with three nautical miles coverage.
    • The citywide launch abilities and live-stream capability that is available for any first responder call for service that is an emergency.
    • A glimpse into the DFR operations and a video that demonstrates how DFR works in real-world calls for service.
    • The successful outcomes of the program with reduced response times, the transparency in the program that built community trust, the missions it responded to at assisted with, and its ability to serve as a de-escalation tool.
  • The developments that the Chula Vista PD is eyeing to acquire to improve their drone program’s capabilities and integration to other first responder entities.
  • Multiple examples and drone video footage are presented to demonstrate how it’s been used by the Chula Vista PD to advance public safety and respond to emergencies.

Questions from the webinar attendees were about:

  • Operation hours and the number of drones procured.
  • Technical specifications of the drone and the software used.
  • Training requirements for certified observers.
  • The timeline and planning involved in building the case to start the drone program.
  • The portion of the officers licensed as drone pilots.
  • Lessons learned, particularly on privacy concerns.


Resources and Handouts


Audience Comments

  • “Having an excellent Drone Program in place, helped to answer everyone’s questions! Minimalizing the liability justifies the cost. Drones save lives – civilians and Police! We need more drones! Please offer this program again. Thank you!” — Roseann
  • “The benefits of a drone program are valuable. It will require cooperation and adherence to specified FAA regulations, especially when dealing with aviation flight paths in our vicinity. Thank you for the presentation!”  — Darren
  • “The knowledge of Captain Redmond was great.” — Steve
  • “Excellent webinar. Hats off to the PD.” — Robert
  • “Lots of great information and examples of successes for this law enforcement tool.” — Larry



Additional Resources
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After the Webinar: Launching Your Agency’s Drone Program – From Planning to Takeoff. Q&A with Captain Don Redmond
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