CHULA VISTA, Calif. — Look up in the sky in the South Bay, and you could see a new state of the art crime-fighting tool.
The Chula Vista Police Department is the first to use the Skydio 2 drones recently created in Redwood City, California.
It’s touted as “un-crashable” and gives officers faster, multi-angle camera capabilities. Flying for about four weeks now, eight CVPD officers have been trained, licensed, and FAA certified as pilots to use this latest technology.
"A drone can go places where a police officer really can't go easily with drones. We can often see if a suspect is armed, their exact clothing description, and see exactly where they are,” said Chula Vista Police Dept Capt. Vern Sallee.
Chula Vista officers are the first to use the first two production models out as there is a long wait-list. The flying gadgets are part of the "drone as a first responder program" - allowing officers to best handle any 911 call.
“The drone does the flying and the thinking about all those objects. The officers can then better focus on the tactics and problems at hand as people want help, they want it now. This drone helps us do a great job every single time and keeps our officers safe,” Sallee said.
The drones help in instances as police officers searching the roof for a possible burglary suspect.
"Oftentimes we don't know where entry is made of a burglary, not only so we have to check the entire perimeter but oftentimes we'll check the roof of a building, so this has several different cameras on the top and on the bottom of it," Sallee said.
The department has two Skydio 2 drones that cost $1,000 a piece. They come equipped with an iPad hookup, a simple controller with two joysticks, and gimble.
The drone can zoom in and out with a special ability to follow and zero in without ever crashing.
"They have great obstacle avoidance so as we go through here most of the other aircraft we have, We wouldn't risk flying gets so close to obstacles especially with the propellers being unguarded, but with this one it is very easy to fly,” said Kyle Roberts, officer with the Chula Vista Police Department.
The Skydio 2 gives clear video playback, and the department is on top of addressing privacy concerns.
"We don't do general patrol. We don't use them for surveillance. If you see a Chula Vista PD drone, it is responding to an emergency,” Sallee said.
The drone video taken does automatically delete after a certain period, and is treated as evidence and not released publicly.
Chula Vista police have used drones since 2015, with a equipment valued at $50,000.