CLOVIS, California (KGPE) – Clovis Police Department’s drone program is taking off. 

Like many smaller law enforcement agencies without helicopters, they rely on technology to be their eyes from above.

“It’s become one of those tools we can’t live without now,” said Lt. Jim Munro.

The Clovis Police drone program started in 2018. They now have 13 trained pilots and 23 drones.

“It’s helping us tell officers who have boots on the ground we can see behind a fence, we can see on top of a roof, we can let the officers know there is a danger,” said Clovis Police officer and UAV Pilot Jordan Dunn.

The police department says all the pilots are equipped with a small drone, though they do have other sizes. The most expensive drone in their fleet costs about $30,000. It has a zoom 40x normal vision, allowing them to read license plates from the sky and transform the way they do their job.

“It’s extremely helpful especially when we are trying to locate vehicle descriptions especially how fast we can get it up in the air,” said Officer Dunn.

Clovis Police say they use a drone during nearly every search warrant to ensure the safety of officers.

“If we can use a drone to find someone hiding in a house and not use force, that’s huge. We’ve also thrown them up in orchards when looking for missing children who are lost,” said Lt. Munro.

Lt. Munro says they use drones only to respond to emergencies, not for surveillance. 

“We are not spying on you, we are not conducting proactive policing with these drones at all, it’s purely reactionary to calls to try to keep you and our officers safer,” said Lt. Munro.