Sunday, October 29, 2017

Chino Police Department: Taking their eyes to the sky



Will unmanned aerial systems, otherwise known as drones, improve the safety and efficiency of police officers working in the field? Chino Police Lt. Aaron Kelliher says yes.

“The drones will let us see things we couldn’t see otherwise. We know there will be situations where we will be able to put the systems up in the air, locate missing persons, or help with disaster situations where you don’t have access to a police helicopter,” said Lt. Kelliher, who is leading the Chino Police’s drone program.

Chino city council approved $15,550 from the state asset forfeiture fund in August for two Chino police drones. The drones cost $9,050, $4,400 for training, licensing and accreditation costs, and $2,100 for maintenance and insurance.

Lt. Kelliher said Chino Police has been looking at using drones for more than a year.

“One of the main applications for drones is crime scene mapping and traffic collision mapping,” he said. “We can put a drone up in the air and get a bird’s eye view of traffic collision scenes and take aerial photos of perspectives we couldn’t get otherwise.”

Mapping out a three-acre crime scene took 10 to 12 minutes when officers used a drone on a double murder shooting at a mobile home park on Riverside Drive earlier this year. 

Drones were also used to search for a man with a gun near Prado Golf Course and during the serving of a search warrant in Pomona, Lt. Kelliher said.

“The next thing is for disaster response. We’ve seen what’s happened in Florida and Houston recently, and the effect that the drone deployments have had in those environments. They can be used for damage assessments. They are very handy in critical incidents,” Lt. Kelliher said.

Privacy, he added, is the police department’s first priority.

“One of the things we first looked at was the privacy concerns that the general public has. As police officers, the minute we go home, we live a private life as well and wouldn’t want a drone in our backyard. Our policy says we will use the drones with a deep respect for individual privacy. We respect privacy, and the first thing in our policy is that we don’t violate reasonable expectations of privacy,” the lieutenant said.

Anywhere a helicopter can fly, a drone can fly as well. 

“But we take it a step further. We are not going to use it to record someone’s backyard unless there is a search warrant involved, or if we have reasonable circumstance such as searching for a dangerous suspect,” Lt. Kelliher said.

The drones can fly four miles away from its operator, but police policy states the drone must always be seen by the operator. 

“We don’t fly anything farther than the line of sight of the operator. We keep them close,” Lt. Kelliher said.

The drones have a battery life of 20 to 25 minutes of flight time, and it takes 100 minutes to fully charge a battery. 

Each drone has six batteries.

“These are not for persistent surveillance. they are not designed for that. There are FAA regulations because of the airspace we have here in Chino because of Chino Airport and Ontario Airport,” Lt. Kelliher said.

Eight percent of Chino is in that airspace, and officers must first get approval before flying the drones in certain areas.

“There are a lot of low flying aircraft, lots of helicopters and we go through an excess amount of training to get certified. There’s also a 63 question FAA test to pass,” he said.

Officers must also receive a Part 107 certificate, complete a two-day in house training session at Chino Police Department, and learn both flight and operational patterns. 

Once completed, officers are authorized for solo flights.

“We want to make sure we are doing this the right way. Safety is the core. We go above and beyond what is required,” Lt. Kelliher said.

Original article  ➤ http://www.championnewspapers.com

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