The Effectiveness of Small Unmanned Aerial Systems When Used in Law Enforcement




Hamilton Jr., William E.

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Law Enforcement Management Institute of Texas (LEMIT)



The most common goal in a law enforcement agency is to safely do their job in an efficient manner. Law enforcement agencies today are faced with dangerous situations in dangerous environments. Law enforcement agencies should implement a well regulated small unmanned aerial systems (sUAS’s) program to assist with critical incidents. sUAS’s can be used in search and rescue missions as an eye in the sky and can help locate victims in areas not safely accessible by officers on the ground (Lee, 2016). The sUAS’s are also being utilized to photograph and document motor vehicle crash scenes and crime scenes, along with their use of 3 dimensional (3D) software used for mapping (Lehmann, n.d.). sUAS’s used by law enforcement agencies are much more cost effective than that of manned air craft. The cost of a sUAS’s is well under $50,000. The sUAS’s can also be deployed much faster than manned aircraft. This cost is well under the estimated cost of a manned aviation unit both in startup and in maintaining the unit (Rudisil, 2016). It is estimated that 1.6 million privately owned drones were sold in the U.S. in 2015 for hobby use (Martinez, 2016). Law enforcement could take advantage of this very well-funded and technology advanced industry. When implementing an sUAS program, the public needs to be engaged and educated on the policies concerning the use of the sUAS and address any public concerns.


Police--Equipment and Supplies, Drone Aircraft