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3.5.24 – DC News Now— ROCKVILLE, Md.

It’s been a little more than three months since Montgomery County Police launched its Drone as First Responder program.

On Friday, Maryland Gov. Wes Moore toured the drone operations center in Rockville.

Police now have two drones operating in Wheaton and Silver Spring.

Montgomery County Police touted the program’s success only in operation for just a few months.

Data shows the average response time for being first on scene is 64.81 seconds and the average response time for all calls is 76.5 seconds.

Montgomery County Police Chief Marcus Jones said having an eye in the sky is improving police response times, without having officers on the ground immediately.

“We found the ability for our officers and again, for us as the police department to respond in a timely manner to emergencies,” Jones said.

Moore got an inside look at the pilot program where police can launch a drone before even being dispatched.

They can see the real-time location of someone who calls 911 and they can listen in on the call.

As of Thursday, the drones in Silver Spring and Wheaton have responded to 360 calls. In 249 of those cases, the drone was first on the scene. In 35 cases, getting eyes on the scene with the drone helped prevent unnecessary dispatch of officers.

“We believe that you can have law enforcement that moves with appropriate intensity and both transparency and absolute integrity. And we think that this is a tool that helps us to accomplish exactly that,” Moore said.

Jones said the drones have allowed officers to de-escalate lots of situations.

“The more information we have, the better our officers are prepared to deal with those,” Jones said.

“We want our local law enforcement and chief to know that the state’s going to support it and the state’s going to have their back in this work,” Moore said. “And we think this kind of work, this kind of technology is not just going to be supportive for local law enforcement. It’s going to be supportive for our community.”

The county is hoping to expand the program if there’s more room in the budget for locations in Gaithersburg and Bethesda.