National Public Safety sUAS Flight Operations & Incident Reporting System

Project Description/Goals

The purpose of this project is to develop, host, and maintain a web-based, online flight and incident reporting system to (1) collect fight-operations data from public safety agencies from their use of small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (sUAS); and to (2) make that information publically available for analysis by entities interested in the use of sUAS in the national air space (NAS). In making this data readily accessible to the public, NIJ seeks to make possible further research and study of law enforcement and public safety sUAS operations, and through such research to improve the safety and increase the operational efficiency of law enforcement sUAS operations. The ultimate goal of this solicitation is to foster the safe, effective, and lawful use of sUAS by law enforcement and other public safety agencies. The Police Foundation is teamed in this project with the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC), the National Sheriffs’ Association, and the Virginia Department of Emergency Management. Essentially, the Police Foundation proposes to use the IAFC’s firefighter near miss reporting system as the model for the sUAS flight data and incident reporting system. In addition to providing sUAS flight-operations data for further research, the Police Foundation further proposes to apply an analytic overlay to “assist in identifying trends, (which) will allow for development of lessons learned and creation of training scenarios that will affect change in organizational behavior.”





Funding & Collaboration

The “National Public Safety sUAS Flight Operations & Incident Reporting System” was funded by the National Institute of Justice (NIJ)


Implications for Policy & Practice

Capturing and reporting public safety sUAS flight operations and incident data will make available the evidence necessary to make critical policy, regulatory, procurement, training, technical, and operational decisions. As the use of drones becomes more prolific across the country, criminal justice and public safety organizations will use data available through the National Public Safety sUAS Flight Operations and Incident Reporting System to promote the safe, effective, and lawful integration of sUAS into day-to-day operations.

The availability of data on use of drones in various public safety and emergency response environments will inform best practices and lessons learned that will pave the way for their expanded, innovative use. In addition, public safety leaders will have the evidence necessary to determine whether the use of sUAS is an effective and efficient operational strategy for their department. They will be able to design evidence-based policy for the use of sUAS in their community.




Point of Contact

Frank Straub PhD
Senior Law Enforcement Project Manager
(202) 833-1460



Drones, sUAS, police tactics

New Police Foundation Reports and Training Opportunities!