SAPD’s drone unit providing support during Fiesta events

Police department has 12 drones to be used for crowd overwatch, traffic control

SAN ANTONIO – New technology is seemingly getting integrated into so much of our day to day lives and now, San Antonio police have their very own drone unit.

KSAT 12 recently met with the unit and takes a look at the need for drones, the uses, and how you might see them at your favorite Fiesta events.

“Chief McManus wanted to leverage technology to enhance public safety. About 2018, I was asked to start looking at creating it, using drones, to augment the helicopter unit,” SAPD Sgt. Daniel Anders said.

Anders heads the squad and says there are a variety of uses, ranging from hostage situations to investigations.

“Anything you can think of for public safety. Overwatch for large crowds. Fire support for the fire department. We use mapping to collect evidence and outdoor crime scenes. And then we have indoor drones for tactical situations,” Anders said.

Already, the drones are going to 350 calls a month supporting officers out in the field, and it takes prep to stay ready.

“All of our pilots have to have an FAA commercial pilot certificate for drones, a remote pilot certificate, and then we put them through an additional 160 hours of remote pilot class,” Anders said.

Right now SAPD has 12 drones at their disposal, but they say this could just be the start of the future of law enforcement.

“As technology progresses, as regulatory elements progress, it puts these tools, more of these tools in law enforcement hands,” Anders said.

As for Fiesta, well if you see a drone overhead, it might just be as a safety precaution.

“For Fiesta, we are going to be deploying several of our drone teams at major Fiesta events, primarily to be used as crowd overwatch and traffic control,” Anders said.

About the Author:

Max Massey is the GMSA weekend anchor and a general assignments reporter. Max has been live at some of the biggest national stories out of Texas in recent years, including the Sutherland Springs shooting, Hurricane Harvey and the manhunt for the Austin bomber. Outside of work, Max follows politics and sports, especially Penn State, his alma mater.