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Grover Beach Police Department set to launch a new drone program

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Posted at 6:53 AM, Feb 04, 2022

Now armed with four drones and three trained pilots, the Grover Beach Police Department is set to launch a new program that has been in the works for almost a year.

"In about 30 seconds to a minute we can get a drone up in the air," said Grover Beach Police Commander, Jim Munro.

Drones are becoming a standard tool for law enforcement.

"It's like having a gun on your belt, a radio on your belt. If you don't have drones you're kind of behind the time," said Munro.

Traditionally helicopters have given officers an eye in the sky, but they are expensive. Now drones can assist in many of the same tasks, from helping to locate a missing child to keeping track of a suspect on the run.

"We can throw a drone up and real quickly get a bird's eye view," said Munro.

And because of their small size, they can help clear the inside of buildings. A single drone can be sent in, keeping officers safely out of harm's way.

But they drones won’t be sent out on standard patrol. The department has a strict policy that says they cannot be used for random surveillance.

"We have to be dispatched on a call. It has to be for a particular reason," said Munro.

Those reasons can include may include photographing accident or crime scenes, search and rescue operations, SWAT incidents and even responding to illegal fireworks.

"We've just seen from other agencies and through the media that drones in police agencies have become extremely important," said Munro.

The Morro Bay Police Department was the first in San Luis Obispo to add drones to force in 2018.

"We've actually been able to go to other agencies like such as Paso Robles for example, the Five Cities area as well," said Morro Bay Police Officer Kevin McCool.

This has helped to pave the way for other departments.

"One drone, while it doesn't take nearly the place of an officer, it can definitely assist in terms of like a force multiplier," said McCool.

Something more and more departments on the Central Coast are taking advantage of.

The Grover Beach Police Department currently has three trained drone pilots, but they tell us they are hoping to train five more so they always have one on duty.

For more information about the drone program visit KSBY.com.