The new aviation program will include a 5-officer unit and two drones, and is scheduled to launch at the end of this year.
“Anything we can get to protect our citizens and our visitors, to keep them safe, we’re going to do,” Daytona Beach Police Chief Craig Capri said during a news conference on Aug. 10, 2017. “I’m very excited about this new technology, and it’s going to save lives.”
In 2011 Embry-Riddle introduced the first Unmanned and Autonomous Systems Operations program in the country. Since then, their drone programs have grown to cover all aspects of drone technology. University faculty contacted the DBPD to offer collaboration after participating in research about the life-saving capabilities of drones.
Officers will receive flight training at Embry-Riddle, in addition to assistance with selecting the appropriate technology solution for the department and in establishing best practices and appropriate protocols. Officers will have the benefit of online learning through the Embry-Riddle Worldwide programs, and get hands-on piloting experience at the Embry-Riddle’s local campus.
In response to concerns that drones could be used to gather information about individuals, Anthony Galante, an assistant professor at Embry-Riddle, emphasized that the program “will strictly adhere to Department of Justice guidelines concerning respect for civil liberties” and be used only reactively, to find missing people and to assess crime and accident scenes.
As the benefits of drone technology in law enforcement and emergency services become clear, police and fire departments across the country are training their officers and implementing drone programs. For Daytona Beach, having the world leader in drone education in their community has given the DBPD all the tools they need to get started.