A Model Policy for Police Drone Use

An association of police agencies has come up with a model policy for the police use of drones, the  San Diego Union-Tribune recently reported.

“Police agencies across the nation are increasingly using drones to improve public safety, but need clear operations policies and limits to win public trust, experts said at a law enforcement conference in San Diego.

To that end, a model policy on use of drones – or “small unmanned aircraft systems” – was rolled out Wednesday by the International Association of Chiefs of Police.”  – Read more here:

Mainly, the policy consists of rules, such as no weapons, deployment should be limited, and flight be within operator’s sight, according to the above report. The use of drones is gaining popularity as it is considered more feasible than manned helicopters: a helicopter runs at least $1.8 million before being equipped with law enforcement gear and costs $575 an hour to run it, not counting the crew. Drone systems average about $30,000 and cost $20 an hour to run.

This is also the reason drones for aerial photography services, for personal fun or potential commercial benefit, have become an attractive option for aerial photographers/videographers, even filmmakers – they are increasingly affordable, cheaper to use than helicopters, on top of the fascinating footage they can capture.

Police Drone

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Meanwhile, in a related news concerning police use of drones, the Chicago Tribune reports:

“Naperville plans to put drones into use soon, although it’s unclear so far exactly how, when or where it will be done.

The city last month spent $1,200 on a drone – a remote-controlled, unmanned and camera-equipped aircraft – for the Fire Department. But policy issues need to be considered before drones are activated by the city, longtime city resident Todd Peterson and Mayor Steve Chirico both said this week.” – Read more here:

Indeed, policy measures need to be drawn up, much like what the International Association of Chiefs of Police has come up with, in order to dispel the general public’s fear of how these small unmanned aircraft are to be handled by law enforcers, considering the rising distrust due to the series of killings of unarmed civilians attributed to them, among other concerns.

As the report continues: “…Bad people, and the potential unintended consequences of allowing anyone to have a drone, brought Peterson before the City Council Tuesday to weigh in on the matter. ”

It seems that even with the FAA regulations governing drone use by law enforcers, each state will probably have to put up their own guidelines as befit their particular concerns and situation.


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