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Chula Vista’s drone program, in which the devices act as first responders in some instances, has brought the department international attention.
It’s brought city leaders a taste of the attention they have long wanted as they’ve attempted to shed the image of a bedroom community. The city can now point to its smart policing initiative as a technologically advanced way of reaching homeless encampments and responding to emergency calls.
But the explosion of drone-use by law enforcement is also deeply concerning to tech and privacy advocates and some residents.
VOSD’s Sofía Mejías Pascoe took a tour of the program and reports that Chula Vista’s success with police drones is due in large part to the city’s PR prowess. The city has actively tried to get the program on the radar of major news outlets in recent years, and it’s paid off.
Not all the coverage has been flattering, but even the most critical pieces have furthered the city’s reach.
Two of the officers who helped launch the program are now working for companies in the drone industry, leveraging their connections to other law enforcement agencies to ensure more police departments adopt drones and have an easier time getting federal clearance. Their efforts have opened a revolving door between public and private interests.
The Morning Report was written by Jesse Marx, and edited by Sara Libby.