Oro Valley tries new approach for security, uses drone to help p - Tucson News Now

Oro Valley tries new approach for security, uses drone to help police music festival

Aerial view of the Oro Valley Music Festival, via a Sahuarita Police Department drone. (Source: Oro Valley Police Department) Aerial view of the Oro Valley Music Festival, via a Sahuarita Police Department drone. (Source: Oro Valley Police Department)
ORO VALLEY, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

Local police say outdoor venues, like the music venue in Las Vegas which was the scene of a mass shooting, are very difficult to secure.

They say because of the open air and surrounding open space, security can be spotty.

The Town of Oro Valley tried a new tool this past weekend for the annual Oro Valley Music Festival, which had 7,000 people in attendance. 

Enlisting the help of the Sahuarita Police Department and its drone program, the department flew a drone over the festival watching the comings and goings of the crowd.

For two days, the drone hovered over the festival, alerting the police department to party crashers and other activities which could have escalated.

The "eyes in the sky" were the perfect compliment to the feet on the ground.

"It was somewhat experimental," said Lt. John Teachout, who organizes security for large town events. "We were very pleased with the results."

Oro Valley does not own a drone as yet, which is why it asked the Sahuarita Police Department for help.

Lt. Teachout said the department was very helpful, providing a licensed pilot and a spotter. They flew several missions over the two days which were monitored on a live stream.

"It's an extremely cost efficient way to really bolster our situational awareness," he said.

When the camera spotted someone breaching the perimeter "you make contact with them and you get information from the individuals to find out what they are up to."

Lt. Teachout sees it as an important tool for future events.

Local law enforcement trains for all contingencies, but they often rely on the concert goers and general public to alert them to things that are unusual.

While that won't change, having the whir of drones a hundred feet overhead gives them a visual vantage point that security on the ground doesn't have. 

"We had an idea what some of the capabilities were going to be," he said. "But we were not wholly aware of how successful it was going to be until we actually deployed the drone."

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