Ensuring the safety of the public is a core mission for all professional law enforcement agencies. In pursuit of this mission, law enforcement leverage many different types of tools, including new and emerging technologies. One of these latest technologies is the small unmanned aircraft system (sUAS).
“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.
While the sUAS has significant potential to improve operational efficiency as well as officer and community safety, there are understandable and legitimate concerns about privacy risks. To help law enforcement agencies address these concerns, the Police Foundation is releasing new recommendations for local law enforcement agencies considering the use of small unmanned aircraft systems 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.
The guidebook reflects the recommendations provided in five focus groups by law enforcement practitioners and community members on how to best achieve consensus building between law enforcement and the communities they serve on the use of sUAS. The focus group sites were Los Gatos, California; San Bernardino County, California; Draper City, Utah; Morristown, New Jersey; and Milliken, Colorado.
The guidebook also reflects the strong recommendations of the project advisory group that any sUAS program must be created as a public benefit, with public backing and the highest level of transparency, if it is to succeed. This imperative is reflected in both the framework and the language of the guidebook and the importance of maintaining and advancing community policing values is reflected in each section.