WALNUT CREEK (CBS SF) — The Walnut Creek City Council will hear a report Tuesday about the possible acquisition of drones by the city’s police department for use in a number of law enforcement scenarios.

The report on Tuesday will focus on how drones are useful for police. Some uses mentioned in the report are explosives disposal, response to hazardous materials spills, search-and-rescue missions, aiding in responses to barricaded suspects, hostage situations, active shooters, apprehension of armed and dangerous and/or violent fleeing suspects and high-risk search warrants, and overviews of disaster scenes.

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The report also mentions two occasions over an August 2019 weekend during which Walnut Creek police asked for help from the Contra Costa County Sheriff’s drone team. One was to help with the search for a missing elderly woman with dementia and the other to respond to a call of a young man who was threatening suicide with a gun.

In a town hall survey of residents by the city earlier this year, which drew 471 responses, 82.4 percent said they support the idea of Walnut Creek police using drones, and 14.9 percent oppose it.

In Contra Costa County, the Sheriff’s Office and police departments in Pittsburg, Richmond, Antioch and San Ramon have active drone programs. Several others, including Walnut Creek, are researching such programs for possible future use. The cost of such a program in Walnut Creek is estimated at about $50,000.

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The Walnut Creek City Council isn’t scheduled to take any action on Tuesday night’s report.

The meeting, which begins at 6 p.m., will be done remotely, and can be viewed by going to walnut-creek.org/government/public-meeting-agendas-and-videos.


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