Police departments have been eager to get their hands on small unmanned aerial systems, primarily as surveillance tools. To bring some order to the new method of law enforcement, the International Association of the Chiefs of Police recently issued guidelines for the use of UAS.
The guidelines are written to address potential privacy and safety concerns. That includes the potential for arming UAS, a possibility that the document “strongly discourages.”
“Given the current state of the technology, the ability to effectively deploy weapons from a small [unmanned aircraft] is doubtful. Further, public acceptance of airborne use of force is likewise doubtful and could result in unnecessary community resistance to the program,” the document says.
The police chiefs also urge departments to consult the FAA early to obtain a Certificate of Authorization, to use trained personnel and to consult with the public on privacy matters.
“Despite their proven effectiveness, concerns about privacy threaten to overshadow the benefits this technology promises to bring to public safety. From enhanced officer safety by exposing unseen dangers, to finding those most vulnerable who may have wandered away from their caregivers, the potential benefits are irrefutable,” the document says. “However, privacy concerns are an issue that must be dealt with effectively if a law enforcement agency expects the public to support the use of [unmanned aircraft] by their police.”