The Lynchburg Police Department (LPD) in Virginia is set to receive a significant technology upgrade, thanks to federal funding. Last week, the Lynchburg City Council voted unanimously to allocate $362,047 in federal funds to the LPD for purchasing cutting-edge equipment, including a DJI Matrice for its drone program, aimed at enhancing crime-fighting capabilities.
The funds, sourced from the second round of the 2023 Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services' American Rescue Plan Act Funding Program, require no local match, according to Lynchburg Chief of Police Ryan Zuidema.
The department will reportedly use over $247,000 of the funds to acquire 52 Panasonic Toughbooks, which provide officers with greater flexibility to perform tasks both inside and outside their vehicles.
Federal funds used to add DJI Matrice to Drone Program
A DJI Matrice drone, costing $40,000, will also be purchased to improve emergency response capabilities, such as locating missing persons and documenting crime scenes and crash reconstructions. The new DJI drone will expand the department's existing drone program by offering capabilities previously unavailable.
Moreover, the LPD will allocate approximately $57,000 to acquire a tactical robot, designed to aid officers during critical incidents, high-risk warrant service, and crisis negotiations. The versatile robot can navigate various environments while streaming live audio and video. The remaining $18,000 will be used to buy a “throwbot and search stick,” a compact version of the tactical robot for deployment in confined spaces.
Councilor Jeff Helgeson praised Chief Zuidema for supplementing the department's budget with federal funds, reducing the reliance on local funding. In response to a councilor's inquiry, Zuidema even hinted at a possible tactical robot demonstration during a future city council meeting.
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