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sUAS (small Unmanned Aerial Systems/drone) Programs; Many Critical Items to Consider and Evaluate Before Implementing a sUAS Program.

Is it a replacement for human-crewed aircraft? NO! A UAS can complete only 30% of human-crewed helicopter missions.  (Source: http://dronecenter.bard.edu)

  • Routine Responsibilities: Crimes in Progress, Search & rescue (good and criminal people)
  • Accident Crime Scenes Investigations
  • Alarm Call Outs (fenced areas and rooftops)
Have not seen many ladders atop police cars.

Know a better way to see what’s happening on a rooftop.

Special Operations:

  • Crowd and traffic controls @ special events
  • Intelligence, reconnaissance,
  • Marijuana eradication (permit verifications,)
  • Disaster assessment,
  • Hazmat & radiological detection.

sUAS Program PUBLIC Approbation Programs:

Critical elements: Trust, (six (6) principles and priorities: 1) Act in public’s interest, 2) Acknowledge membership, 3) Embrace Safety, 4) mitigate risks, 5) Value public approbation, 6) Respect privacy, civil rights & civil liberties.

Public Policies must incorporate all the above items and include:  Transparency & Accountability, Documentation (Who, what, when, where, why) and Accessibility (by the public) Training (validation, applications, coordination)

Public’s Biggest Concerns & How to mitigate those issues:

Concerns: Justification for $$, Privacy, Constitution, NOT being armed (facial recognition) Public Trust, Not toys.

Counter-Narratives & Mitigation

  1. Why do you need additional tools; reduce costs & enhance capabilities, increase the safety of officers, increase time and distance to reduce officer-involved shootings, save money, noise abatement.
  2. Privacy, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, Know and address Case Law, Publicize Policies, Make policies more robust, (eliminate vagueness) Annual Training Programs (4 hours of privacy, civil liberty training annually.)
  3. No weapons on drones: Aircraft Selection (make it visible your drones are not weapons) Policy Oversight (friendly civilian members.)
  4. Keep and Foster Public Trust: Methods of Transparency, Accountability, Involve the public in the process, Establish Civilian Oversight.

Seven (7) Habits of a SUCCESSFUL sUAS Unit

  • Stick with what you know, 2) Leverage the PIO (Public Information Officer,) 3) Find comfort in the familiar, 4) Paint a picture to frame the issues, 5) Remember the Peelian Principles (avoid any association with military capabilities) 6) Address the WIIFM (what in it for me (from the public perspective, 7) Publicize the Policies. (Website, Twitter, PIO, and other social media.)

Rules of finding and then defining BEST Practices:

  • APSA Standards, 2) ACLU, NTIA, IACP (international Chiefs of Police)

How to Organize & Operate a UAS UNIT

Thermal images can provide “real time” valuable information!

107, COA, Part 91, 101

Apply for COA (Certificate of Authorization.)  Best to operate using both: COA & 107.

sUAS Technologies Currently in Use by and for Local Governments

While currently “in use” by many local governments for many different applications from infrastructure inspections, flood control, mapping, even crime scene documentation, etc. the use in comparison to its capabilities and potential is tiny.  Those local governments that have an interest in using sUAS for enhancing its local capabilities and more cost-effective services for their people should start evaluating the options and costs of various programs that use sUAS technologies.  A fundamental and critical reason for my existence, “my why,” in this space is to help local governments through a comprehensive and logical process to define what, if anything, makes sense for their local jurisdiction and its current environment.  There are currently ten (10) local jurisdictions of various sizes and geography working with the FAA to evaluate drone innovation projects.  The goal is to help the FAA relax or minimize some of the regulatory restrictions that hamper the effectiveness of sUAS technologies for local governments and public safety.

Coming Soon:  We will explore some Real and Practical sUAS Applications in Local Government.

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