The Center for the Study of Drones at Bard College has updated their database of public safety agencies with drones. The center’s study shows the number of law enforcement agencies using unmanned aircraft systems continues to rise, and that number has more than doubled since the end of 2016.
According to their study, there are at least 910 state and local police, sheriff, fire and emergency agencies with drones. The study estimates that the number of public safety agencies with drones has increased by 82 percent in the last year alone. In the U.S., there are now more than twice as many agencies that own drones as there are agencies that own manned aircraft.
Of the 910 public safety agencies in the center’s dataset, 302 are sheriff or county police (33 percent), 278 are municipal police (30 percent), 186 are municipal and county fire or EMS (20 percent), 107 are municipal and county emergency management and public safety agencies (12 percent), and 37 are statewide public safety agencies such as highway patrol and fire marshall.
Every state except for Rhode Island has a public agency using drones. Texas has the most public safety agencies with drones (67), followed by followed by California (58) and Wisconsin (56). In addition to widespread municipal use, the report says 28 states also have at least one statewide public safety agency that deploys drones.
If your agency or organization is thinking about incorporating a drone program, one of the first steps is to have an agency-wide policy regarding drone use. Implementing a policy will establish standard operating procedures and a chain of command for your agency’s UAS operations. Download our UAS policy template to get your agency started.