UTSA’S football success leads to SAPD dispatching drones at tailgates for added security

UTSA defeated UAB with a 34-31 victory on Saturday at the Alamodome

SAN ANTONIO – UTSA’s 11-0 football record is growing its fan base rapidly.

The school is no longer backed by just current and former students, but by the entire city of San Antonio. With that, more fans lead to bigger crowds, which means more security measures need to be taken.

“They continue to win, the crowd size keeps growing. So we need to adjust our traffic patterns and our flows to make sure we can get everybody to and from the game safely” said Cpt. Michael Starnes, a traffic section commander for San Antonio police.

A few weeks ago, SAPD started bringing its raven drone unit to tailgates due to increased crowds. They use the bird’s eye view at tailgates to help with crowd control and traffic flow.

The drones can zoom in about three miles to pinpoint a person or an incident in a large crowd. The pilots can even livestream what they’re seeing to officers on the ground phones so they know what they’re walking into before they get there.

“We can use our cameras to look around, zoom around the area. We can look for traffic congestion problems, areas where there may be a fight or a crowd having an issue. We can direct officers to that location rapidly,” said Scott Clark, an SAPD drone pilot.

For long-time fans, they’ve seen the pre-kick-off party grow year by year, but it’s now massive thanks to the team’s national rank and a current undefeated season.

“There’s a lot of people out here, especially for today, so the fact that they have that going on -- it’s a wonderful thing and it makes for a safer tailgate,” said fan Richard Cortez.

Cpt. Starnes tells us their drone program has been up and running for about two and a half years. They utilize drones in tactical situations, crash investigations, and even recreate scenes in 3D. He hopes they continue to grow the program.

More on KSAT:

No. 15 UTSA scores late to beat UAB 34-31, clinch division

About the Authors:

John Paul Barajas is a reporter at KSAT 12. Previously, he worked at KRGV 5 in the Rio Grande Valley. He has a degree from the University of Houston. In his free time, he likes to get a workout in, spend time on the water and check out good eats and drinks.

Adam Barraza is a photojournalist at KSAT 12 and an El Paso native. He interned at KVIA, the local ABC affiliate, while still in high school. He then moved to San Antonio and, after earning a degree from San Antonio College and the University of the Incarnate Word, started working in news. He’s also a diehard Dodgers fan and an avid sneakerhead.