The Gresham Police Department has become the first law enforcement agency in the State of Oregon to implement the Drones as First Responders Program (DFR) and the sixteenth law enforcement agency in the Country. The program had its inaugural launch on Friday, July 14, and will continue as a pilot program depending on staffing levels.
"Without the additional staffing the Gresham Safety Levy would have provided our department, we are having to find innovative ways to be more efficient while keeping our community safe,” said Gresham Police Chief Travis Gullberg.
The drones dedicated to the DFR program launch from Gresham City Hall and are deployed specifically for exigent circumstances which could include but are not limited to, searching for lost or missing persons and crimes in progress. The drones have the ability to provide critical information to ground personnel. It is important to note that the drones do not record video unless it is necessary for the collection of evidence. The drones deploy with their cameras at a 15-degree angle, meaning, they are aimed straight ahead in order to better locate the scene and they return to City Hall at the same angle.
The City of Chula Vista, California, which implemented DFR in 2018, has recorded the average response time for a drone to a priority one call as three-point nine minutes and the patrol unit on scene as six-point six minutes. For priority two calls, they recorded drones arriving on scene within an average of five-point three minutes and patrol units on scene within ten-point one minutes.
The Gresham DFR program allows an officer to get visuals a situation in approximately two minutes, which can be almost half the amount of time of a patrol unit response.
“Utilizing the Drones as First Responders program allows our police to respond faster to our community’s needs while keeping our officers safe,” said City Manager Nina Vetter. “Drones have the ability to arrive at a scene within a couple of minutes, which allows our officers to have their eyes on an incident in record time and can potentially reduce the amount of personnel needed.”
With the failure of the Gresham Safety Levy in May 2023, the City of Gresham is leveraging technology in order to continue the efforts of the Safe Gresham initiative developed last year.
To learn more about Safe Gresham, visit GreshamOregon.gov/Safe-Gresham/.
Source: City of Gresham