Fox News’ Bill Melugin reports on the Santa Monica Police deploying drones to respond to crime scenes.


Click here to watch their video report.

Police Departments Are Starting To Use Drones As First Responders – How Is It Working So Far?

Drone technically and use has evolved rapidly. Police departments quickly found uses for the technology and some over recent years have even started using the unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) as first responders in a way. The Santa Monica Police Department initiated its program almost two years ago and the department says it changes the game for officers in the field. Most of the time, the drone arrives on scene before other officers and it can help paint a picture of the situation. But concerns about surveillance and privacy remain. Santa Monica authorities say those are always the biggest questions when it comes to this. Joining to discuss how Santa Monica’s program works and how regulations have evolved over time is Peter Lashley, Santa Monica police officer and lead pilot of the department’s Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) program, and Jay Stanleysenior policy analyst with the ACLU Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project. 

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In this beach town, sometimes the first cop on the scene is a drone

When someone calls 911 in Santa Monica, Calif., a drone can respond in as little as 30 seconds and start collecting information before officers arrives
By Ken Dilanian Read more

If you see a drone buzzing over your head in Hemet, it may very well belong to police. While the drone may offer police critical information, the ACLU is keeping an eye on the department’s use to see if it’ll raise privacy red flags.

 Christina Gonzalez

Flying Lion, Inc., is proud to announce the first formalized Drone as First Responder (DFR) Air Support Officer (ASO) training. DFR programs enable the immediate dispatch of a drone in response to a 911 call for the purpose of real-time aerial situational awareness, in advance of, and to support ground units to enhance community and first responder safety.

The police department partnered with Flying Lion, which has supplied drones to other police departments across the Southland, for a 30-day trial. Once the trial period concludes, authorities will decide if the program is a good fit for the community.

The Hemet Police Department is the first police department in Riverside County to introduce a Drone First Responder program, according to the news release.

Iman Palm

THANK YOU to Lou Schmidt and the whole team for the new custom Flying Lion, Inc. (FLI) landing pads. THEY LOOK AWESOME!!!

Charles L. Werner. Founder and Director of the DRONERESPONDERS Public Safety Alliance, tells all about the Drone as a First Responder Program

The DFR response provides information that helps to increase or decrease priority which ensures that the appropriate resources are responding.  It is clear to see the value of the DFR program through de-escalation, returning units to service more quickly, enhancing safety and protecting the community.

Iain Hoey

Teleoperator pictured in front of computer

Ayana reached out to the Chula Vista Police Department after seeing a video they had posted about their DFR program. He also talked to Flying Lion, the company that provides drone pilots to Chula Vista by contract.

A Flying Lion representative visited Brookhaven and gave a presentation. Where Chula Vista uses those Flying Lion pilots in command in conjunction with a teleoperator that is both a sworn officer and an FAA Part 107 drone pilot, Brookhaven decided to launch a DFR program solely using officers certified as pilots.

Wayne Parham

Flying Lion and Iris Automation add airspace awareness capabilities for Drone as First Responder (DFR) programs

BVLOS operations allow for timely response, situational awareness in advance of personnel on scene

Redondo Beach, CA + Reno, Nevada (March 10, 2023) – Drone service provider, Flying Lion, Inc., and safety avionics technology innovator, Iris Automation have entered into a new partnership to provide Drone as First Responder (DFR) programs with enhanced airspace awareness. This partnership will see the addition of Iris Automation’s Casia G ground-based detect and alert system to the Flying Lion suite of services.

With over 22,000 DFR flights logged to date, Flying Lion has vast experience working closely with leading law enforcement agencies to provide rapid emergency response and aerial assessment through DFR program including for Chula Vista PD, Redondo Beach PD, Santa Monica PD, and Beverly Hills PD.

In order to comply with current FAA requirements, Flying Lion and these DFR programs have been utilizing human remote pilots in command (RPICs) and visual observers (VOs) to allow for BVLOS operations in their cities. While this has been necessary to comply with FAA certificate of authorizations (COAs) for these agencies, it is not optimal for ongoing or large-scale DFR operations. DFR programs enable the immediate dispatch of a drone in response to a 911 call for the purpose of real-time aerial situational awareness, in advance of, and to support ground units to enhance community and first responder safety.

With the implementation of Casia G, the next generation of DFR programs will have the capability to create a volume of surveilled airspace to conduct drone operations without the need for human visual observers. Casia G is a small, passive, low-power, weather-hardened device that can be installed anywhere there is a clear view of the sky. This can be a rooftop, street light pole, cellular tower, or other vertical structure. Casia G detects cooperative aircraft using ADS-B and non-cooperative aircraft using Iris’ patented computer vision and artificial intelligence software. Once an aircraft is detected, two concepts of operation are possible:

1. Casia G alerts the Remote Pilot in Command (RPIC), providing the classification and location of the detected aircraft. The RPIC then initiates an avoidance maneuver and resumes the mission once the detected aircraft is clear of the operational area.

2. Casia G sends an automated collision alert to the uncrewed aerial system’s command software, resulting in the system automatically executing a pre-programmed avoidance maneuver.

Quote from Flying Lion President & Founder, Barry Brennan

“Flying Lion is proud to partner with such a forward-thinking organization as Iris Automation, to provide a safer environment to conduct DFR operations. The Casia G technology for BVLOS drone flights breaks new ground for public safety – it not only saves time and resources but also allows first responders to better protect the communities they serve.”

Multiple Casia G nodes can be deployed to cover any operational area, enabling drones to cover an entire municipality. DFR program managers can then enjoy BVLOS operations of multiple UAS from multiple launch points, enabling minimum response time. In addition, the ability to fly routine BVLOS missions enables the centralized management and operations of the UAS, and integration into 911 dispatch and real-time crime center operations. There are more than 18,000 municipal police departments in the USA, and only 200 of them have access to an aerial asset. BVLOS operation of drones enables the remaining 17,800 departments to not only have access to an aerial asset, but within existing budget constraints – relieving pressure on the human capital in police operations.

Quote from Iris Automation CEO, Jon Damush

“Casia G provides an inexpensive and effective way for customers to take advantage of BVLOS flight through increased airspace awareness without the use of visual observers. The new types of DFR programs are a perfect example, and working with Flying Lion and its incredible work across law enforcement to offer these solutions is an important step.”

Iris Automation and Flying Lion will be exhibiting at the National Public Safety UAS Conference, March 14-15, 2023 in Williamsburg, VA.

About Flying Lion

Flying Lion, Inc. (FLI) is a drone service provider to Law Enforcement, Public Safety Agencies and Municipalities. Founded in 2014, Flying Lion provides on-demand drone air support, training, staffing, and FAA consulting with a specialty in Drone as First Responder (DFR) operations. Flying Lion has conducted over 22,000 DFR missions of which over 10,500 were conducted Beyond Visual Line of Site (BVLOS).

About Iris Automation

Iris Automation is dedicated to creating an aviation environment where no two aircraft ever collide in mid-air. We leverage innovative AI-based vision technology that enables uncrewed and crewed aircraft to mitigate the risk of airborne collisions – vital for safe, scalable, and efficient operations across countless industries. Iris’ onboard and ground-based Casia systems give operators the situational awareness and automation needed to safely navigate an increasingly complex and congested airspace. We work closely with civil aviation authorities globally as they implement regulatory frameworks to advance safety and efficiency in aviation.

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Twitter: @iris_automation