Redmond Police Deploy Drones as First Responders, Enhancing 911 Response

Estimated read time 3 min read

The Redmond Police Department has implemented a cutting-edge Drone As A First Responder (DFR) pilot program, utilizing a DJI Matrice 3D drone in a box to respond to 911 calls since April, reports KIRO 7. This innovative approach aims to improve emergency response times and provide real-time information to ground units.

Rapid Response and Efficiency

Police Chief Darrell Lowe highlighted the program’s efficiency, stating, “We are able to have eyes on a call for service in three minutes or less with a commissioned police officer as the pilot providing us real time information and providing that information to ground units.”

The department’s drone can fly for 30 to 40 minutes and typically reaches scenes within three minutes. Impressively, the drone has arrived before ground units 88% of the time, allowing the cancellation of ground response in 18% of calls.

Enhancing Situational Awareness

The DFR program has already proven valuable in real-world scenarios. Sergeant Steve Lincoln recounted a recent carjacking incident where the drone played a crucial role:

“We were basically able to take a snapshot and send it out to patrol right away and we had them identified as they were fleeing from us,” Lincoln said.

Addressing Privacy Concerns

Chief Lowe addressed potential privacy issues, emphasizing that the drone is not used for random patrols:

“We’re not using this for random patrols it is call response specific, so we only fly when we are going to a call,” he explained.

Future Expansion of DFR Program

The Redmond Police Department plans to expand its DFR program, growing the fleet to three drones. Future capabilities will include two-way communication and the ability to deliver emergency supplies such as AEDs, EpiPens, and Narcan.

DroneXL’s Take

The implementation of the DFR program in Redmond is part of a growing trend in law enforcement and emergency response. The history of Drone As A First Responder programs dates back to the pioneering efforts of the Chula Vista Police Department in California. Since then, over 15 DFR programs have been launched across the United States, operating with Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) waivers from the FAA.

The success of these programs highlights the potential for drones to revolutionize emergency response. By providing rapid situational awareness and supporting First Responders, DFR programs can significantly enhance public safety efforts. As Drone Technology continues to advance, we can expect to see more law enforcement agencies adopting similar programs to improve their response capabilities and better serve their communities.

The collaboration between Skydio and Axon in developing DFR solutions further underscores the growing importance of this technology in public safety. As these programs evolve, they will likely play an increasingly crucial role in building safer, smarter cities.

Photo courtesy of KOMO News.

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