NATIONAL CITY (KGTV) -- Don't call it a drone. National City Police say drones are military tools. Their Quadcopters, which do the same thing as drones, are public safety tools that will save lives.
The department rolled out its fleet of Quadcopters for the media Thursday, saying the program has been years in the making.
The Quadcopters look like 4-legged spiders with propellers and a camera attached. They enable law enforcement to get aerial views necessary to search areas quickly and give officers real-time information.
Four National City Police officers and one firefighter have been licensed by the Federal Aviation Administration, after three months of rigorous studies.
One of the pilots demonstrated how the tool can be used in a mock-search for a missing girl. Within minutes of launching the device, the girl was spotted in a nearby parking lot.
Officers say the Quadcopters will save time and money.
Each Quadcopter cost the city $2,000, but officers say they're invaluable when time is of the essence.
National City Police say the drones will not be used for surveillance purposes, and the Sergeant running the program bristled when asked about privacy issues, saying the Quadcopters won't do anything a police helicopter wouldn't do.
National City is the third police agency in San Diego County to start using drone technology. The Chula Vista Police Department and San Diego County Sheriff already have programs in place.