LODI (CBS13) — Law enforcement in Lodi are planning to roll out a new program that will add another tool in their efforts to fight crime.
It’s called the DJI Phantom 4, a new drone that was just approved by the City Council.
The police department spent most of last year obtaining licenses and permits so its new drone can take flight.
Police in Lodi are working on getting more eyes in the sky. Its new drone program is ready to go online.
“Right now, if we need to clear a rooftop for an alarm call or somebody is reported to be on a roof we have to call the fire department and put personnel up on the ladders with this technology. We are able to clear a rooftop in just a matter of minutes,” said Lt. Steve Nelson, Lodi Police Department.
The Lodi Police Foundation provided $2,500 to buy the DJI Phantom 4 to help keep residents safe, but drone use by police comes with some issues.
“We have a very strict policy on the use of it, when it will be deployed and how it will be deployed, specifically addressing privacy concerns and people’s right to privacy,” he said.
The drone can stay up in the air for about 30 minutes. Neighbors concerned about the program have been working with police to better understand the new technology.
“I think mainly because it is so easily accessible, and to be able to have cameras on top of them and see things from afar without ever being noticed. So I can see it being a problem,” said Jacob Buus, who lives in Lodi.
Last month Lodi police received FAA approval to fly the drone as a government agency. So far, it has three licensed pilots.
“The police know what they’re doing. I trust the police to use the drones in a proper way without being in any way prying into people‘s privacy,” he said.
Police hope to have the drone available for law enforcement work in the coming weeks. It will also be training more officers to pilot the drone.