Redmond Police Pilot Drone First Responder Program with BRINC

DJI Drone Currently in Use, Seattle-Made BRINC Responder on the Way

The Redmond Department is pioneering the use of drones as in the western area. Since April 2, they have been deploying a DJI drone to most 911 emergencies, reportedly providing officers with an aerial perspective even before they arrive on the scene.

According to Redmond Police Chief Darrell Lowe, “Redmond is the first department in the area to actually have a full-time ‘Drone as a First Responder' program.”

The drone, housed in a weather-proof nest on the City Hall roof, can reach flying altitude within 45 to 60 seconds and typically arrives at the scene in under three minutes.

Enhancing Officer Capabilities and Managing Resources

Chief Lowe emphasized that the drone program is an enhancement, not a replacement for commissioned police officers.

“It helps to reduce the workload,” he said, noting that the drone has responded to 102 calls and arrived before ground units 88% of the time.

The aerial perspective provided by the drone allows supervisors to gain situational awareness and prioritize their response, which is particularly helpful in managing resources during the current national shortage of police officers.

Transitioning to Seattle-Made BRINC Responder Drone

While Redmond is currently using a Chinese-manufactured DJI drone, they will soon be switching to the Responder, developed and tested in Seattle's Fremont neighborhood.

David Benowitz, Vice President of Strategy and Marketing Communications at BRINC Drones, highlighted the Responder's capabilities, including a top speed of 40 to 43 miles per hour, two-way communication, thermal camera, and police lights.

The BRINC Responder is not limited to crime response; it can also be deployed for fires, missing hiker searches, and even delivering life-saving medications like Narcan in overdose situations.

“Really, we encourage agencies to deploy for every single situation,” Benowitz said. “You don't know when eyes on scene will be beneficial.”

Addressing Privacy Concerns

While some residents and groups like the ACLU have raised privacy concerns, Chief Lowe assured that the drone program adheres to clear rules and guidelines.

“We're not just randomly flying, gathering information on things or people or anything like that,” he said, comparing the drone footage to body-worn camera evidence, subject to the same policies and rules.

Lowe also noted that the drone's camera is set at the horizon while en route to a call, ensuring it does not capture images of people during its flight.

DroneXL's Take

The adoption of drones as first responders by the Redmond Police Department showcases the growing trend of integrating cutting-edge into emergency response and public safety operations. As more agencies recognize the benefits of rapid aerial response and situational awareness, purpose-built drones like the BRINC Responder are poised to become game-changers in this space.

However, it is crucial for law enforcement agencies to address privacy concerns and maintain transparency in their drone operations. By establishing clear guidelines and engaging with the community, police departments can foster and demonstrate the value of drones in enhancing public safety while respecting individual privacy rights.

As the Redmond Police Department continues to work closely with BRINC and provide feedback on their experience, their insights will likely shape the future development and deployment of drones as first responders across the country.


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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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