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Police Foundation offers recommendations for law enforcement use of small drones


WASHINGTON Nov. 16, 2016 The Police Foundation has released new recommendations for local law enforcement agencies considering the use of small unmanned aircraft systems (sUAS) for public safety purposes. Community Policing & Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Guidelines to Enhance Community Trust provides comprehensive guidance on all aspects of UAS use in public safety, including operational, training, and legal and regulatory compliance considerations. Importantly, it also provides comprehensive guidance for law enforcement on navigating community concerns related to privacy and civil rights. Although by 2014 only a handful of law enforcement agencies had received the necessary FAA authorization to fly a sUAS, in August 2016, the FAA established new regulations to allow the use of sUAS in the national airspace. With this regulatory framework in place, the use of sUAS will undoubtedly grow at a much greater pace.

While this type of technology has significant potential to improve operational efficiency as well as officer and community safety, there are understandable and legitimate concerns about privacy risks. To address these concerns and to improve UAS programs, law enforcement agencies considering adopting sUAS technology are encouraged to engage their communities in the decision to implement a program.

“UAS technologies provide law enforcement agencies with unique capabilities for rapid, safe, economical and effective responses to a wide variety of public safety tactical challenges. Harnessing these capabilities requires not only the skills to operate the technology, but the input and understanding of the community and a pledge to operate the technology in a transparent manner. This is what community policing is all about,” said Jim Bueermann, President of the Police Foundation and former Chief of Police in Redlands, California.

Reflecting the input of both law enforcement and community members, and the expertise and insights of a diverse advisory board, the guidebook includes numerous resources for agencies to consult in the development of sUAS policies and procedures. To view and download the guidebook, please click here.

The Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, U.S. Department of Justice, supported the development of this guidebook.

About Police Foundation

The Police Foundation is a national, nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing policing through innovation and science. Established in 1970, the Foundation has conducted seminal research in police behavior, policy, and procedure, and works to transfer to local agencies the best new information about practices for dealing effectively with a range of important police operational and administrative concerns. For more information on the Police Foundation, please visit http://www.policefoundation.org.


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