Chula Vista drone program nets 130 arrests in 1 year

CHULA VISTA, Calif. -- The Chula Vista Police Department announced Wednesday that its Drone as a First Responder (DFR) program launched more than 1,000 missions in its first year as part of the Federal Aviation Administration's UAS Integration Pilot Program (IPP).

The FAA launched the IPP in 2018 to encourage authorities to rely on drones in emergency response situations. Once deployed, the drones collect real-time video to assist first responders as they receive those emergency calls.

Chula Vista police launched its DFR program in Oct. 2018 with a single drone that was capable of traveling within a 1-mile radius of the CVPD station. Chula Vista police said that in the year since, it has expanded the program to include four drones that launch from two remote sites and has made 130 arrests in connection with the information collected by the drones.

According to Chula Vista police, their program is the first in the United States to complete 1,000 drone missions through the DFR program. The department pointed to the drone's quick emergency response time, estimated to take an average of 120 seconds, as one of the reasons for the program's success.

"The desired primary outcome of CVPD's DFR program is to provide better real-time intelligence to first responders in order to respond with the best tactics and resources," Capt. Vern Sallee said Wednesday in an official news release. "CVPD's DFR program is one of very few public safety programs in the FAA's IPP, and has proven one of the most successful IPP project areas with concern to daily and repeated operations."

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