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Southern California police are sending drones to respond to 911 calls

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A police department in Southern California have started deploying drones to respond to  911 calls.

Chula Vista, population 275,000, is a city south of San Diego. According to the San Diego Union Tribune, since last week the city’s police force have used drones to react to more than 30 different calls, three of which led to arrests.

So what’s going on?

As entertaining as it is to imagine – the drones aren’t making arrests themselves. We are probably a few decades away from that.

What actually happens is the police receive calls from the public and depending on the location of the crime, one of their drones is able to fly quickly to the scene, giving incoming police officers a live, bird’s eye view of what’s going on.

In a recent domestic violence call, a drone was sent and hovered above a canyon where a homeless man suspected of stabbing a women was hanging out. The footage that was broadcast to police cellphones, which enabled one responding officer to navigate through difficult terrain to the exact location of the suspect. The drone showed the suspect fleeing a red tent in the cannon with a knife and police swooped in and were able to apprehend the suspect without any significant problems.

Chula Vista is one of multiple police departments around the United States taking part in a pilot program in collaboration with the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA). The FAA gives these police department specially permission to fly drones at night and above people and traffic during emergencies. As the law currently stands, the drones may not fly more than one mile from police headquarters. The FAA is currently in the midst of rewriting the regulations and one law they are reconsidering is a requirement for a drone to remain in the line of site of its operator.

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