Simi Valley Police Department Proposes Drone Program for Enhanced Surveillance

The Simi Valley Department is considering the implementation of a drone program to bolster its surveillance capabilities. The proposal, which includes the purchase of four to five drones at an estimated total cost of $55,000, is set to be voted on by the Simi Valley City Council during their upcoming meeting on Monday. If approved, the department reportedly aims to have the drones operational by the fall of this year.

Enhancing Aerial Surveillance

Currently, the Simi Valley Police Department relies on helicopters from the Police Department or the Ventura County Sheriff's Office for aerial views during crimes. However, the proposed drone program would allow officers to launch drones immediately at crime scenes, providing live video feed to dispatchers and officers on the ground. This real-time information could prove invaluable in apprehending suspects and gathering crucial evidence.

Police Chief Steve Shorts emphasized the benefits of the drone program, stating, “An officer at a crime scene can launch a drone immediately. The units would send live video to the dispatcher and officers at the crime scene to help catch suspects.”

Limitations and Guidelines

While the drones offer significant advantages, they also come with certain limitations. Due to Federal Aviation Administration guidelines, the drones would be restricted to flying at a maximum altitude of 400 feet. Additionally, pilots must keep the drones within sight and cannot operate them from a moving vehicle.

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To address privacy concerns, Chief Shorts assured that officers will adhere to procedures designed to protect residents' privacy. The department is considering the purchase of DJI Mavic 3 drones, which are commonly used by law enforcement agencies.

Funding and Additional Equipment

The estimated cost of the drone program, including software, video feed, and training, is $55,000. If approved, the funds would be sourced from the city's general fund. The Simi Valley Police Department already has three officers who are certified drone pilots, ensuring a smooth transition into the program.

In addition to the drone proposal, the City Council will also vote on the purchase of a specialized prisoner transport van. The 2024 Ford E-350 vehicle, priced at no more than $147,437, would allow for the transportation of up to 13 arrestees to the main jail in Ventura, accommodating men, women, and juvenile suspects separately.

The proposed drone program and the purchase of a prisoner transport van demonstrate the Simi Valley Police Department's commitment to enhancing its surveillance and operational capabilities. If approved by the City Council, these additions could significantly improve the department's ability to respond to crimes, gather evidence, and ensure the safe transportation of suspects.

As the department moves forward with these initiatives, it remains crucial to strike a balance between public safety and the protection of residents' privacy rights.


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Haye Kesteloo
Haye Kesteloo

Haye Kesteloo is the Editor in Chief and Founder of DroneXL.co, where he covers all drone-related news, DJI rumors and writes drone reviews, and EVXL.co, for all news related to electric vehicles. He is also a co-host of the PiXL Drone Show on YouTube and other podcast platforms. Haye can be reached at haye @ dronexl.co or @hayekesteloo.

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