MayJune Associate Magazine.2018.FINAL

M AY 2 0 1 8 J U N E

A cross the country, agencies are looking up to the sky to use cutting edge technology to assist in how they perform their functions. As the acquisition cost of an Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) drops, agencies that previously could not afford traditional aviation assets like planes or helicop- ters are now able to enter the world of airborne law enforcement. It is estimated that 347 governmental agencies have acquired UAS, with 167 agencies in 2016 acquiring them. This was more than all previous years alone, and double the acquisitions in 2015 (Gettinger, 2017). As hundreds of agencies consider adding these small aviation assets to their tool boxes, there are many items that need to be considered prior to acquisi- tion and implementation.

TYPES OF UNMANNED AERIAL SYSTEMS One thing an agency will need to determine is what type of UAS it wants to operate, and the pros and cons that each system provides. The vast majority of agencies operating UAS are utilizing Vertical Takeoff and Land- ing (VTOL) aircraft, which resembles a micro version of a helicopter. The advantage of this style is it allows the aircraft to take off and land in smaller and more confined spaces, as opposed to a fixed wing UAS which requires a larger open space to land and take off. The downside to a VTOL aircraft is they generally have a shorter amount of flight time being available before the aircraft needs to land and have a new battery installed. Many of the VTOL UAS being operated by public safety agencies only have a maximum flight time of approximately twenty-five minutes. UAS POLICY CREATION Agencies establishing a UAS program will want to create a policy on its usage. A strong UAS policy will help ensure the preservation of citizen’s privacy rights, help minimize the potential of costly aircraft accidents, and ensure that operations are being conducted within established best practices. There are multiple resources available for helping in the creation of a solid UAS policy. The International Chiefs of Police (IACP) provides recom- mended guidelines for the use of UAS which offers guidance on community engagement, system requirements, operational procedures, and image reten- tion (IACP, 2012). In addition, the Airborne Public Safety Association (formerly known as the Airborne Law Enforcement Association) offers agencies the ability to become accredited, with an on-site assessment being conducted to ensure that the agency is operating its UAS in accordance with their required guide- lines and best practices.

For agencies stepping foot into the aviation world for the first time, they will also want to meet with established members of the manned avia- tion sector, like police aviation units and news helicopter operators, in order to ensure safe flight operations when operating in the same vicinity. Manned and unmanned aircraft can fly in the same restricted airspace, as long as close coordination is conducted and an airspace deconfliction plan is developed and followed (Quistorf, 2015). TYPES OF ANTICIPATED APPROVED MISSIONS Agencies considering purchasing a UAS will want to identify what types of missions it will be utilized for, and if any additional specialized equipment or training will be needed to conduct those types of operations. Possible uses for a UAS include crime scene documentation and reconstruc- tion, missing persons search, natural disaster damage assessments, critical in- frastructure protection and security, and providing aerial situational aware- ness in tactical situations. If an agency wishes to use the UAS for crime scene reconstruction, they will likely need to acquire a 3D mapping and reconstruction software from

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