SAN DIEGO — Since 2018, the Chula Vista Police Department has used drones to provide eyes in the sky for the officers on the ground. While it's meant to provide safety, it's also causing privacy concerns.
The Chula Vista Police’s drone program was the first in the country to receive FAA approval allowing police to look at anything from above that is outside their line of sight.
"It's not just for drones. We have automated license plate readers, traffic cameras, and we collect information. There’s a lot of information we collect from residents," said Dennis Gakunga, Chief Sustainability Officer for Chula Vista.
Collecting that information has caused concern from some people living in Chula Vista. Even though you can see some of the drone flight data online, some fear officers could be using the drones for surveillance or spying.
"It's an invasion of privacy! Sometimes cameras are okay to put in a building and protect people, but all these cameras in all of Chula Vista? It’s a bad idea!," said long time Chula Vista resident, 75-year-old Sinforsa Clamaor.
That’s why Chula Vista has put together a task force, a diverse group of 12 Chula Vistans, including retired law enforcement officers and businesses representatives, to set some boundaries.
"We, as a city of Chula Vista, are committed to openness and transparency. It is important that the city address privacies and information that we collect and the use of drones and cameras, so they feel safe and confident," said Gakunga.
The task force will present an initial policy recommendation to city council towards the end of this year.
Then the city council must vote on it and if they adopt it, they will draft a new policy with rules and regulations in hopes that both the police and people living in Chula Vista will feel more safe.
"It is fair to get the people's opinion on this especially if it affects their privacy. You'll want people's opinion on this matter," said Basel Deiranieh, Chula Vista resident of 25 years.
They are encouraging people living in Chula Vista to attend two meetings this week on Wednesday and Thursday, July 27 and July 28, at South Chula Vista Library and Otay Ranch Library at 6 p.m.
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