Santa Cruz de Tenerife Introduces Drone Team that is “Non-existent”, with Police Struggling for Resources

Last March, the Security Councillor of the Santa Cruz de Tenerife City Hall, Gladis de León made an announcement regarding the launch of a Local Police Drone Team. According to the mayor, in an interview with the digital newspaper El Dia, this team will consist of five police officers and one officer, with the plan for each operational group to have a drone specialist “very soon”. Currently, the City Hall possesses two drones but aims to procure more in the future. However, members of the CSIF union feel that while the operational unit is necessary, now may not be the right time due to the numerous urgent needs that police officers face in their daily duties. They highlight that establishing an operational unit should not involve pulling an officer from another unit with a drone to start operating it.

Jesús Illada, the CSIF union representative and a local police officer at the Santa Cruz City Hall, views the drone team experiences in municipalities that already have a unit as “quite positive”. Illada expresses that having an aerial view in a city like Santa Cruz de Tenerife could be beneficial for monitoring traffic, combating vehicle theft, maintaining public order, or aiding in search operations. However, unlike other municipalities, the City Hall in Santa Cruz does not wish to create a dedicated drone police unit, similar to other specialist units like those focused on the environment or gender violence. Instead, they have hired five police officers, one assigned to each of the operational units, who will continue in their usual roles. When drone assistance is required, those trained for it will be called upon to operate it.

Illada deems the timing and manner of the drone team announcement as unsuitable. “We lack personnel, struggle with scarce resources such as paper, and even face delays in minor contracts like vehicle inspections. Currently, we are at an all-time low in terms of personnel and even cutting back on printer ink. With all these challenges, the announcement of a supposed drone unit seems ill-timed,” she comments. “It appears to be just a move to grab headlines.”

In response to enquiries from this newspaper, the Security Councillor, Gladis de León, indicates that the Local Police of Santa Cruz de Tenerife already offers drone support services for police work. This service includes the acquisition and operation of the two existing drones, along with all necessary support equipment for police operations.

De León discusses tasks related to “supporting police work” and mentions that as there is no continuous demand for interventions, each agent from the technological support team is assigned to one of the operational units within the Local Police force. Specific mention of a dedicated operational drone team is absent from both the councillor’s statements and responses from the communications office.

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