Public Safety Drones




Price, W. Frank

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Law Enforcement Management Institute of Texas (LEMIT)



Public safety agencies across the nation are increasingly using drones for public safety applications. However, drone technology has both positive and negative effects on the public. This paper analyzes the use of drones in public safety and the effects of such use, while providing a recommendation on how a public safety agency can deploy a drone program while considering the benefits and burdens. Three immediate and important uses are outlined. They include the utilization of drones for search and rescue, disaster response and crime scene photography. In each application, drones do a better and more efficient job than personnel because they have better access and suitability for tasks that may be dangerous. Privacy concerns, the military perception, aerial disturbances, and distrust of law enforcement highlight the most critical public concerns that must be considered before launching a drone program. Laws, regulations, and best practices are critical for establishing trust and alleviating fears with the public. Fears are resolved with an effective communication strategy, a good policy and adherence to Federal and State laws. Even though law enforcement drone use is controversial, if not already doing so, public safety agencies should consider their use. If applied and used sensibly, drones have the potential to be incredible assets.


Police--Equipment, Drone Aircraft