A newly activated unit within the Corona Police Department utilizes unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones, for public safety operations.

According to the agency, the seven-man Unmanned Aerial Systems Team was formally activated Thursday, and the officers will be launching camera-mounted remote-controlled drones whenever circumstances dictate.

“The UAS pilots were chosen from patrol and are highly trained in UAS technology,” said Sgt. Jason Morris, the unit’s spokesman. “The pilots may use the UAS during calls for service if the situation warrants, and it is approved by a supervisor. As a matter of privacy, the Corona Police Department does not conduct `routine patrol’ or `surveillance’ flights.’ If you see the UAS in operation, we are actively working a police call for service.”

According to Morris, the UAS team received nearly 60 hours of training in drone technology, aerial operations and Federal Aviation Administration rules guiding the use of drones.

The FAA administers written exams to certify drone operators.

Morris said the Corona team intends to focus on search-and-rescue, suspect apprehension and even fire spotting operations.

The agency does not have an aviation unit, relying instead on helicopters from the Riverside Police Department and the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department to lend a hand, provided they’re available.

Residents who have questions or concerns about the UAS technology and its use citywide should email Morris at Jason.Morris@CoronaCA.gov .

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