The city of Chula Vista, California, has created a task force aimed at setting boundaries for its police department's drone program, in operation since 2018. The program was the first in the country to receive Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approval allowing police to look at anything from above that is outside their line of sight.
The task force is made up of 12 residents, including retired law enforcement officers and business representatives, according to CBS 8 San Diego.
The task force will present an initial policy recommendation to the city council later this year. The council then must vote on it. If adopted, they will draft a new policy with rules and regulations.
More About Chula Vista's Drone Program
The FAA authorization, in 2020, allowed Chula Vista police drone operators to use the drones in emergency scenarios just beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) within Close Proximity of the operator and at a Low Altitude (CPLA). The waiver came after months of technical and policy development alongside Skydio, a U.S. drone manufacturer. The permissions allow officers to perform life-saving missions, such as urban search and rescue, with an operator flying beyond line of sight while staying below 50 feet in altitude above nearby obstacles like trees or buildings.
Current FAA regulations require drone operators to maintain a line of sight to their aircraft at all times to mitigate risk.
To operate Beyond Visual Line of Sight, first responder agencies must receive special permission from the FAA based on demonstrated safety measures and operational best practices. With these permissions, in rapidly evolving scenarios, first responders can safely fly their drones without being forced to maintain visual contact or wait for FAA approval.
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