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Welcome to Chula Vista, where police drones respond to 911 calls

February 2023

In the skies above Chula Vista, California, where the police department runs a drone program, it’s not uncommon to see an unmanned aerial vehicle darting across the sky.

Chula Vista is one of a dozen departments in the US that operate what are called drone-as-first-responder programs, where drones are dispatched by pilots, who are listening to live 911 calls, and often arrive first at the scenes of accidents, emergencies, and crimes, cameras in tow.

But many argue that police forces’ adoption of drones is happening too quickly, without a well-informed public debate around privacy regulations, tactics, and limits. There’s also little evidence that drone policing reduces crime. Read the full story.

—Patrick Sisson

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