Concord considers $30K drone program

The Concord City Council on Tuesday will consider accepting a $30,000 grant from Marathon Petroleum for the police department to start an unmanned aerial system (UAS) program.   

Concord police would join other local departments with drone programs already in place, including Walnut Creek, San Ramon, Lafayette, Richmond, Antioch, and Pittsburg, among others.  

The drone program would be managed by a program coordinator designated by the police chief.

Concord has borrowed drones from neighboring agencies the past few years, to track suspects, including an armed man in February 2021 wanted for attempted homicide. 

The drone was able to identify the man was armed with an assault rifle and assisted officers in making the arrest. Drones have also been used to track suspects through areas not easily accessed by police vehicles.   

Concord police held a series on virtual community meetings earlier this year to help form policy on using drones. 

The police also formed a committee to research other programs.

A staff report for Tuesday's meeting says the UAS program will not be used to conduct random surveillance, or carry weapons, or target people based solely on actual or perceived characteristics.

The report says the drones won't be used "to harass, intimidate, or discriminate against any individual or group" or "in a reckless or negligent manner." 

They won't be used for personal business nor by anyone under the influence of alcohol or prescription drugs, as outlined by the FAA.   

The Concord City Council meeting starts at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, and can be viewed here.