25Oct 2019

Explaining the benefits of drone detection for law enforcement agencies

law enforcement-drones

Law enforcement use of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), also known as drones, has become widespread. Many departments and public safety officials are seeing the advantages of using drones in their daily routines. While the potential benefits of UAS use by law enforcement are numerous, challenges do exist with the implementation of this new technology. Law enforcement agencies interested in leveraging drones should also be prepared to address obstacles and potential liabilities.


UAS Benefits for Law Enforcement and First Responders

Drones are making the work of law enforcement agencies and first responders significantly safer and easier. Drones are an invaluable tool for saving the lives of law enforcement officers and the public. Drones are changing how agencies respond to a wide range of incidents and keep the public safe. 

UAS benefits to Law Enforcement and First Responders:

  • Save time
    • Cover more ground
    • Get to scenes faster
  • Save money
    • Cheaper to acquire, store, operate, and deploy than helicopters
  • Save lives
    • Keep officers out of danger
    • Provides vital information to protect lives 
  • Extend situational awareness
    • Aerial vantage point

Drones are an essential public safety tool for a variety of missions: 

  • Search and rescue operations
  • Traffic accident scene investigations
  • Track and locating suspects
  • Assess dangerous situations such as
    • active shooter 
    • hostage
    • suspicious package/bomb
    • rioting
  • Natural disaster response and recovery efforts


UAS Program Challenges for Law Enforcement

Without careful planning, concerned citizens may ground your UAS program before it takes off. Even with all the benefits drones provide, there are drawbacks such as privacy concerns and 4th amendment issues. Above all, community support is key to ensuring that your department has a successful UAS program.

UAS Programs Challenges include:

  • Public perception of drones
    • Negative connotation, raise fears
  • Privacy concerns
    • Pushback from citizens
  • Liability concerns
    • Injury to persons or property 
    • Violations of privacy rights and the Fourth Amendment
    • Violations of the First Amendment
  • Internal opposition
    • Opposition from within the department or from city council decision-makers

Tips to overcoming UAS Program Challenges

Community engagement & support

  • Obtain community support in the earliest stages
  • Get input and feedback from the community


  • Disclose how your department will use UAS
  • Make drone flight available to the public


  • Decreases the department’s risk of liability
  • Promotes accountability

How does my department gain community support?

Be transparent about your UAS program. Transparency should be part of your best practices as it will help thwart challenges to your UAS program. Police departments can extinguish citizen’s concerns and fears through trust and transparency.

Transparency leads to higher rates of: 

  • Community support
  • Public trust
  • Program success

Tips for building greater transparency: 

  • Publish your UAS policy online - it should be easy to find on your department’s website. 
  • Outline how and when your department will use UAS in your policy. 
  • State how your department will NOT be using drones.
  • Disclose how data from your UAS missions will be collected, used, saved, and destroyed. 
  • Post your drone flight activity online.


Chula Vista PD: Model UAS Program

Focusing on community support, transparency, and training are keys to launching a successful UAS initiative. Chula Vista Police Department (CVPD) has implemented a UAS program that other police departments can model for success. 

CVPD has been carefully building its UAS program since 2015. During which they have engaged with their community, worked with the ACLU and other community advisory boards, and deployed best practices in each stage of their UAS planning process. 

To better achieve public transparency, CVPD partnered with 911 Security to use their drone detection software to track all drone flights launched by the Chula Vista police department. With the help of 911 Security, CVPD is making its drone flight data publicly available on ps.911security.com.

Does your PD need help in building community support and transparency for UAS?

Our drone detection system not only serves as a security solution for drone threats. However, it also provides a tracking mechanism for transparency, quality assurance, and quality control, said 911 Security Vice President, Nick Rabenau. Furthermore, Nick Rabenau explained, “we support first responders by tracking their drone flights and populating the data onto a public website to provide public transparency and minimize 4th amendment privacy issues.”

Consider making your department’s drone flight paths and other drone activity data available to the public. Ask us how we can customize a web-based solution to fit your program’s needs. Our solutions are scalable and agile to meet the ever-changing demands of drone technology and the environments they are deployed.