Cape and The Chula Vista Police Department See Early Success After Deploying Drones


Since the Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Integration Pilot Program (IPP) was announced in May 2018, we’ve seen select cities and their technology partners begin to launch various programs that leverage drone technology into daily operations. In October 2018, as part of the San Diego UAS IPP, the Chula Vista Police Department (CVPD) and Cape launched a Drone as a First Responder (DFR) program, integrating drones equipped with Cape Aerial Telepresence into daily emergency response operations.


Discovering the Full Potential of Drones for Emergency Support

As the first agency in the United States to pioneer the DFR model, the CVPD is leading the way of the future for public safety drone integration, and taking a unique and impactful approach to the program, opting to use Cape-enabled drones proactively in emergency situations versus traditional reactive response and support efforts. Traditionally, teams leveraged drones in much more limited and one-off situations -- where specialized units drive a vehicle  to the location, and have a single pilot launch and navigate a drone relaying information via phone or radio to the responding teams or commanding officers. Today, CVPD and Cape are unlocking the full potential of drones for public safety agencies with this new model -- leveraging drones as true first responders and support. With the benefits of real-time aerial visibility, drones are providing CVPD officers with unmatched levels of situational awareness, and giving them a first-person viewpoint to quickly, efficiently, and safely make decisions that can save lives and catch criminals.

Since the launch, drones equipped with the Cape Aerial Telepresence platform have been dispatched to high-priority calls in close proximity of the CVPD headquarters, which is one of the heaviest call zones in the City of Chula Vista.After being launched from the roof of the CVPD headquarters to the scene, the designated teleoperator  in the command center can manipulate the drone in order to gain the exact visibility needed. With the drone typically arriving on scene well before responding officers, the command center can better identify and dispatch needed resources to the scene. Responding officers can also view the live stream en route to the scene, giving them full visibility of the situation they are walking into.

Results to Date


In the first four months of the deployment, the drones have proven to increase situational awareness, increase the safety of officers and surrounding community, and to better inform decisions and manage resources through real-time aerial data. Since launching its Drone as a First Response (DFR) program in October 2018, drones equipped with the Cape Aerial Telepresence platform have conducted more than 312 flights, accounting for more than 75 hours of flight time without incident, and have contributed to 18 arrests.

Additionally, the Cape-enabled drones are helping officers solve logistical problems and capture criminals without incident. For example, after receiving a significant assault call involving a deadly weapon, CVPD officers faced several physical constraints and limited visibility when trying to approach the suspect who was located in a secluded tent. Deploying a drone equipped with Cape Aerial Telepresence, the CVPD was able to quickly get real-time visibility of the suspect, safely approach, and arrest the suspect without the risks of high-escalation, injury, or use of supplemental resources.

In recognition of this project, the Chula Vista Police Department has been awarded the California Police Chiefs Association & Motorola Excellence in Technology Award for 2019.

Leading the Way

Perhaps more than any other technology to date, drones offer the ability to streamline and improve operations at law enforcement agencies, and the UAS IPP is enabling Cape and the CVPD to lead the way. Beyond driving efficiencies, drones are enabling safer communities. The program launch and success to-date closely follows Cape’s release of national survey data, showing that U.S. consumers are ready to embrace drones as a public safety tool. With 71% of today’s consumers saying they support law enforcement’s use of drones in their community, and 62% explicitly saying they would feel safer if their local first responders used drones to protect their communities. In the months ahead, the CVPD will continue to use drones equipped with Cape Aerial Telepresence for emergency support, helping reduce crime and improve safety.


Public SafetyKabe Termes