Hemet Police Deploy Drones to Support First Responders Citywide

City News Service Pristine Villarreal

HEMET (CNS) – Remote-controlled drones are being deployed by Hemet police officers for a wide array of first-responder missions, as part of a pilot project, the Hemet Police Department announced Wednesday.

“The concept is to utilize an unmanned aerial system — UAS — to fly to any reported emergency and arrive before police officers on the ground,” Hemet Police Department spokesman Alan Reyes said. “An air support officer will operate the UAS remotely and immediately communicate with field personnel via radio.

“The video feed is also immediately available to every officer in the field via vehicle computer or smart phone application, so officers can see for themselves what they are responding to.”

The police department has partnered with Flying Lion, a company that specializes in drone technology for law enforcement agencies, to conduct a 30- day trial to determine whether the “Drone-As-A-First-Responder” program is a good fit for the community, Reyes said.

“The ability to evaluate the resources needed, prepare the proper operational response and increase the safety of our officers and public is the intent of the project and the mission of HPD,” Chief Eddie Pust said. “Hemet is modeling the future of drone integration in Riverside County by utilizing drones as first responders.”

According to Capt. Glen Brock, who is managing the DFR program, images captured by the aerial vehicles are “stored in the same manner as body- worn camera video and other investigative evidence.”

“Footage is stored for a period of time consistent with all other evidence related to that type of incident or investigation,” Brock said.

Officials hailed the rapidity with which the department’s drones can be dispatched and provide bird’s eye views of whatever is or has transpired prior to officers’ arrival, elevating situational awareness and safety for public safety personnel.

According to the police department, the agency’s drones will rely on the Capture & Manage Evidence software platform, with “live streaming anywhere in the world and evidence-grade video management.”

“By integrating CAPE-equipped drones into the DFR program, officers can respond to and assess active situations sooner and make lifesaving decisions on-scene,” the department said. “Drones may even be used to clear calls when officers aren’t needed, saving the department time and money.”

More information about the project is available at http://www.aerial.motorolasolutions.com/transparency/hemetpd-ca.

Officials didn’t say how many officers had been trained as remote- controlled drone pilots, who operate under Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations governing aircraft, in particular Part 107.

The regulations specify how, when and where drones may be deployed, with some airspace restrictions, including a limit of flying no higher than 400 feet above ground level.

The regulations leave it to the discretion of state and local governing bodies to impose privacy constraints on drone operators.

The Corona Police Department also uses drones.

Copyright 2023, City News Service, Inc.

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