Yonkers Police Takes to the Skies with Drone First Responder Program

The Yonkers Department in has launched a pioneering “Drone as a First Responder” (DFR) program, marking a significant advancement in emergency response capabilities for the region, reports Eyewitness News and Lohud.

High-Tech Eyes in the Sky

The program utilizes a DJI M300 or Matrice 300 series drone equipped with high-definition cameras and thermal imaging technology. This aerial asset is designed to provide officers with crucial real-time information before they arrive at a scene.

Detective Sgt. Frank DiDomizio highlighted the drone's potential: “We can now see from the drone, hey, there's more calls involved than we originally thought, than one caller said. Now we can get that third ambulance, fourth ambulance rolling faster, get to the scene quicker, and potentially save someone's life.”

Yonkers Police Takes to the Skies with Drone First Responder Program 2

Operational Details

The drone is launched from the roof of St. Joseph's Medical Center, strategically located across from police headquarters. Its current coverage area encompasses approximately 60% of all police calls for service in Yonkers.

Two pilots operate the drone:

  1. One on-site at St. Joseph's Medical Center
  2. Another remotely from the police department's AWARE Crime Control Center

Officers in the field can access the drone's video feed in real-time through a smartphone or laptop application, allowing for better preparation and resource allocation before arriving at an incident.

Transparency and Public Trust

In an effort to maintain transparency, the Yonkers Police Department will publish daily flight logs on their official website. These logs will include details such as flight dates, times, paths, durations, and reasons for deployment.

Cost and Trial Period

The DFR program is currently in a two-month trial phase, with a price tag of $100,000 split between the police department and the city's IT department. This cost covers both staffing and equipment.

Police Commissioner Christopher Sapienza emphasized the program's potential impact: “This new technology transforms traditional police response by allowing our officers to view a scene while responding, giving them vital information that can be used to make more informed decisions upon arriving.”

Beyond Crime-Fighting

While the drone's primary focus is on emergency response, its capabilities extend beyond law enforcement. The high-resolution camera with infrared and thermal imaging can assist in locating missing persons, and the drone can even deploy flotation devices to individuals in distress in the Hudson River.

DroneXL's Take

The Yonkers PD's Drone as First Responder program represents a significant step forward in integrating unmanned aerial systems into public safety operations. This initiative aligns with a growing trend of law enforcement agencies leveraging to enhance situational awareness and response times.

The program's emphasis on transparency through publicly accessible flight logs is commendable, potentially serving as a model for other agencies considering similar programs. As drone technology continues to evolve, we can expect to see more innovative applications in public safety, , and emergency management across the country.

For more information on the latest developments in public safety drone use, check out DroneXL's public safety category.

Photo credits: Eyewitness News and Lohud.


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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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