Tonight, January 15, 2018 at the Senior Center at 6:30 pm, the Culver City Police will engage with the community about the new pilot program using ‘drones’ to support police work. Technically known as Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, drones are already in use in some other cities in Southern California, and the city council approved their purchase in March of 2018.
The department lauds the new technology as “very powerful and versatile officer and community safety tools.” The pilot program would have the drones available for both police and fire departments and Public Works personnel.
According to the CCPD, “The UAVs will be used to provide aerial support during tactical Police and Fire operations, and provide an added layer of transparency and accountability by recording aerial video of the incidents. The UAVs will utilize a high definition camera and/or forward looking infrared (FLIR) camera system to provide real time situational awareness, which will help public safety officers in locating both suspects and victims.”
Three types of drones will be used in the pilot program by the city.
On March 13, 2018, City Council approved the purchase order the purchase of two DJI Matrice 210, four DJI Phantom 4 Pro, two DJI Spark Unmanned Aerial Vehicles and accessories. The capabilities of the different types of drones varies, but all must be used within sight of the operating officer or staff member.
Drones may only be deployed with a supervisor’s approval, and only after all of the required notifications to air traffic control towers (there are FAA regulations in respect to use of drones) have been made. Only pilots who possess a valid license to fly UAVs issued by the FAA may deploy a UAV.
From the CCPD’s public communications regarding policy and drone use, ‘the city’s policy also lays out a public reporting procedure wherein every use of a UAV will be announced using the public announcement system on our Police vehicles, and or social media outlets (safety and time permitting). Every deployment will be documented and published in the Culver City Police Department’s monthly report. This report, which is posted on our Department’s public website, will include flight data such as: date and time, duration of the flight, reason for the deployment, and outcome (i.e. whether a suspect was located etc.). Additionally, every flight is digitally logged. The digital log includes a full tracking of each flight including the entire flightpath (GPS), altitude, and speed. The digital information will be stored in house and available for release as required by law.”
In January 2019, the CCPD will begin an eighteen month pilot program. All of the aforementioned policies and procedures will be adhered to during this time and a report will be presented to the City Council to discuss the program’s effectiveness at the conclusion of the pilot program.
the Senior Center is located at the corner of Culver and Overland Boulevards, and parking is available in the lot as well as across the street at the Vets Memorial Auditorium.
Photo shows Phantom Pro Drone in flight