Author photo

By Stephen Hadland
Observer Publisher 

Drone Program Receives High Marks


December 19, 2019

Observer Staff Photo

CCPD Officer pilots Unmanned Aerial Vehicles commonly called drones takeoff and land in the courtyard at city hall.

The Culver City Police and Fire Departments gave council and the public an interim report on the drone pilot program.

Prior to the council meeting a demonstration was held in the courtyard at city hall with drones taking off, landing and hovering over the area. A Culver City Fire Department Battalion Chiefs SUV was outfitted with a large screen showing live footage from the drone overhead.

The drones are used under strict guidelines to ensure proper use combining public safety and privacy. The deployment must be approved by a supervisor. The report citied that, "During the first nine months of the UAV pilot program, the UAVs have been deployed twenty-four times. It should be noted that there were fourteen deployments outside of Culver City, all of which were either related to a crime originating in Culver City, or in response to a request for assistance from an outside agency."

Observer Staff Photo

Video screen mounted in rear of Battalion Chief's SUV displays live video from drone overhead.

In a video shown at the meeting robbery suspects from Culver City are being pursued into Ladera Heights. A patrol officer who doubles as a drone pilot was in the area and launched the drone. The video shown at the council meeting found one suspect jumping over walls to evade officers. The drone followed the suspect and with no officers in sight he saw the drone overhead and put his hands in the air to surrender. CCPD Captain Jason Sims commented that they had not anticipated anyone surrendering to a drone. He went on to say that among the benefits were that the officers were safe, the public was safe, and the suspect was safe. As officers arrived, they were able to safely take the suspect into custody.

Speakers were almost in unanimous support of the program citing the safety provided to the public and first responders. One written card objected to the program as drones are being purchased from a company that provides weapons to the military. Council members were general pleased with the report which will be reviewed again prior to the program becoming permanent. Mayor Meghan Sahli-Wells cited the police departs efforts to build the trust of the council and the public.


Reader Comments1 — 5 of 6

JeffS writes:

If there is evidence that military technology makes police or citizens safer, CCPD has not presented it. They have invoked mass shootings to argue for drones and other military hardware, but the Santa Clarita school shooting last month took 16 seconds between when the killer began firing and when he killed himself. No police response or equipment could have affected it. Public safety is served by militant opposition to the gun industry and culture, not paramilitary participation in it.

JeffS writes:

I call for strict purchasing guidelines to prevent further fiascos like this, as well as an immediate end to the CCPD drone program, an investigation of its origins, and greater outside oversight of CCPD decision-making. We are better than this. Thank you for your time.

JeffS writes:

Botach sells these guns. The guns which the police fear will be pulled each time they make a traffic stop or knock on a door, and which we all fear will appear at any moment. Why are the police doing business with an arms dealer? Botach even works with police departments to resell confiscated guns. Police and Botach both profit from putting deadly weapons back in circulation.

JeffS writes:

Police always say 'we just want to make it home alive at the end of the day,' as if they are uniquely in danger, but we are all in that same danger. Our nation is flooded with guns. There have been mass shootings at schools, bars, malls, movie theaters, churches, offices, concerts, and every other place a person might go. We all have the same fear. I am a librarian. Staff and patrons have been killed with guns in libraries this year.

JeffS writes:

Dear Council and Public, I am profoundly opposed to the CCPD drone program for many reasons. The one I wish to highlight tonight is that CCPD chose to purchase this equipment from Botach sells military weapons to police and the public. This represents an irrational and destructive enmeshment of police and the gun industry.


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