The Chula Vista Police Department, whose drone is shown here, is at the forefront of what’s called drones as first responders. Its drones give a real-time view of a scene before emergency personnel arrive. / Photo courtesy of Chula Vista Police Department

Police agencies have a natural attraction to drones: The aerial devices can offer a picture of a scene, a suspect or an event that’s far more telling than they could get on the ground.

But the six police agencies across San Diego County that are using drones in some capacity aren’t very willing to give the public a clear picture of how they’re using the technology, VOSD contributor Jared Whitlock reports in a new piece.

“Only two agencies — the Carlsbad Police Department and Escondido Police Department — provided internal logs describing their drone activity. Requests for footage were largely denied by the agencies. … The Carlsbad and Chula Vista police departments provided select drone video in response to record requests, including an aerial view of a Carlsbad street fair. Other agencies declined.”

We do know that Carlsbad police used drones to monitor a protest in which citizens spoke out against family separations at the border. 

“Police drones at protests are a manifestation of fears voiced by privacy groups several years ago at the dawn of law enforcement drones,” Whitlock notes.

One attorney who works on drone issues said courts largely haven’t weighed in on what police drone records are public and what’s not.

Up Close and Personal With One of CBP’s Boat Searches

Encounters with Customs and Border Protection officers are becoming more common for local boaters, a fact VOSD’s Jesse Marx discovered for himself this weekend.

In the latest Border Report, Marx describes how several agents armed with weapons boarded a boat he was on and questioned him and friends.

“CBP made more than 650 maritime arrests in fiscal year 2019, the highest since fiscal year 2012, when the number was 779,” a spokesman for the agency told us.

“The tone of the conversation on our boat Sunday was casual, but not without tension. The agent who searched our cabin wore a mask that concealed part of his face. The lead agent seemed to relax when he realized he was talking to several journalists,” Marx writes.

Quote of the Day

Here’s what happened when CalMatters’ Laurel Rosenhall asked Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon what it was like last year to suddenly have a Republican, San Diego Assemblyman Brian Maienschein, on his team:

“It probably sounds ludicrous … but I was amazed how seamless it was. When Brian announced that he was switching I had a meeting with the caucus and said, ‘Hey, this is what he wants to do, and how do you guys feel about it?’ And I almost felt like I was overpreparing them because they were all like, ‘Cool.’ (Even as a Republican) Brian voted with us so often.”

In Other News

The Morning Report was written by Sara Libby, and edited by Scott Lewis.

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