Ensuring the safety of the public is a core mission for all professional law enforcement agencies. In pursuit of this mission, law enforcement leverages many different types of tools, including new and emerging technologies. One of these latest technologies is the small-unmanned aircraft system (sUAS).
The Police Foundation is launching a new Center for law enforcement agencies considering the use of small unmanned aircraft systems. As sUAS technology continues to advance and its use becomes increasingly widespread, the goal of the Police Foundation Center for Unmanned Aircraft Systems in Public Safety is to help law enforcement navigate the equally important community policing aspects of adopting the technology, including community concerns related to privacy and civil rights, transparency and accountability, the development of policy and procedure, and operational safety. We conduct scientific research to examine the real-world challenges of policing and public safety, and work closely with policy staff in the translation of scientific findings and the development of evidence-based recommendations for the field.
The website is intended as a resource to help law enforcement agencies make an informed decision on whether to acquire sUAS, and if they do, how to develop policies and procedures that will help garner public support, avoid pitfalls, and build community trust. The website is also intended to provide insight for the public on the advantages of sUAS for public safety, and the many considerations that go into sUAS program implementation.
While this type of technology has significant potential to improve operational efficiency as well as officer and community safety, there are understandable and legitimate concerns about privacy risks. To address these concerns and to improve sUAS programs, law enforcement agencies considering adopting sUAS technology are encouraged to follow the principles of community policing in their adoption and to engage their communities early on in the decision to implement a program.
“sUAS technologies provide law enforcement agencies with unique capabilities for rapid, safe, economical and effective responses to a wide variety of public safety tactical challenges,” said Jim Bueermann, President of the Police Foundation and former Chief of Police in Redlands, California. “Harnessing these capabilities requires not only the skills to operate the technology, but the input and understanding of the community and a pledge to operate the technology in a transparent manner. Taking the time to engage the community, address concerns and gain input from the community is exactly what community policing is all about.”
The Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, U.S. Department of Justice, supported the development of this website and numerous other resources including an infographic, Five Things You Need to Know about sUAS in Law Enforcement publication, and guidebook.
Established in 1970, the Police Foundation is a national, non-partisan, non-profit organization dedicated to improving policing through innovation and science. For 48 years, the Foundation has conducted research on all aspects of policing and is leading the way in promoting and sharing evidence-based practices and innovation among law enforcement. The Foundation is currently working with hundreds of police agencies nationwide, as well as internationally, providing research and translation, training, technical assistance, and modern technology implementation. The Foundation is a leader in officer safety and wellness, community policing, open-data, investigations, and law-enforcement technology. The Foundation’s main goal is to improve the way police do their work and the delivery of police services, in order to benefit officers and the communities they serve, as well as reduce crime.
You may also visit the Police Foundation website at www.policefoundation.org for more information.