FAA Drone Pilot CertificateChico police unveil new Unmanned Aerial System unit with drone demonstration – Chico Enterprise-Record

July 28, 2021by helo-10

CHICO — Following years of planning, and more recently, securing the funding to purchase equipment and certify officers, the Chico Police Department is close to launching its Unmanned Aerial System unit.

Sgt. Todd Lefkowitz, who supervises the Chico Police UAS Unit, Chico Police Chief Matt Madden and a couple officers in the unit unveiled the technology during a demonstration Tuesday morning at the city’s Fire Training Center.

The department now owns six drones that will used for intelligence gathering within a visual line of sight in a number of instances, such as crime scene investigations, traffic collisions, as well as search and rescue operations. Madden said the drones won’t be armed or deployed in a use of force situation, and attempted to quell potential concerns about a police department possessing this technology.

“This type of technology, we understand, in the hands of law enforcement could really give the feel of ‘Big Brother’ and we want to make sure our program was designed to provide to the community and enhance our law enforcement to the community,” Madden said.

“An exciting part is this type of technology will make our officers safer in the field and will be more effective in the reduction of crime … this will allow us, in critical incidents to slow down. … We want to get into a position where we can slow down, provide accurate, up-to-date information to our decision-makers in the field so they can make better decisions when it comes to tactical response. I think that’s what you’re going to see with this type of technology.”

The cost to start the program was not in the department’s budget, however, it received a $26,000 donation from the Chico Community Benefit Luncheon, a local nonprofit also known as “Chico Cioppino Feed.” The donation was then approved by the Chico City Council.

That allowed the department get the program up and running by selecting six officers to become certified drone pilots by passing a Federal Aviation Administration Part 107 course, in addition to Lefkowitz, the supervisor. The unit will report to Lt. Mike Williams, who reports to Madden, the chief.

The department also has an FAA certificate of authorization to fly in controlled airspace, and it has coordinated with the Chico Municipal Airport, Cal Fire-Butte County, Enloe FlightCare and the Butte County Sheriff’s Office on the use of drones in city and county airspace.

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There is more to being a drone pilot than just buying a machine and flying in your backyard. It can be that simple, but most of us will need to understand some drone laws before we try to take to the sky.


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