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U.S. Department of Justice
Office of Community Oriented Policing Services

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February 2021 | Volume 14 | Issue 2

photo Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS), known colloquially as “drones,” have opened up incredible opportunities in the public safety sphere. UASs can map damage after weather events, help in search and rescue efforts, increase safety in suspect pursuits, enter potentially hazardous environments, and even see in the dark. They have even been deployed to assist with public safety work in the COVID pandemic in order to reduce contact and increase social distancing. UASs can increase both public safety and officer safety and wellness at a cost reduction to local jurisdictions. However, they also require intensive coordination with multiple local and federal agencies and with the community.

How should departments, especially small departments with limited resources, get their UAS program off the ground? To answer this question, the COPS Office convened the State, Local, Tribal and Territorial (SLTT) Unmanned Aerial Systems Working Group, made up of practitioners from cutting-edge UAS programs nationwide, stakeholder groups, and federal partners from relevant departments. In partnership with the Police Executive Research Forum, this working group has released Roadmap to Implementing an Effective Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) Program.

In this publication, agencies at the beginning of their drones planning process can find the steps needed to quickly and efficiently start a UAS program. It details how to scope a mission, begin community outreach, and identify training and equipment needs, with links to current guidance from partner agencies and real-life examples from SLTT Working Group members. The roadmap is intended to present SLTT agencies with the most current information from the Department of Justice and the Federal Aviation Administration, and with lessons learned by the subject matter experts among their peers.

Download your copy of the roadmap today!

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