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JTIC Launches Expanded Resources on Unmanned Aircraft Systems

Locating a lost child. Dropping contraband on correctional facility grounds. Soaring over a wildfire to provide key information to ground personnel. Unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) have become a permanent part of the landscape, and for law enforcement, they are at times a useful tool, at times another problem to face.

Agencies looking for information on law enforcement use of UAS have a new resource: the Justice Technology Information Center (JTIC) has added an expanded subsite specific to UAS to JUSTNET, the website of the National Law Enforcement and Corrections Technology Center (NLECTC) System.

Drone flying over barbed wire

“Law enforcement interest in using small UAS for accident reconstruction, search and rescue, and other emergencies continues to increase, and that made us realize that JUSTNET needed to offer a more complete set of well-organized pages to respond to that need,” says Ron Pierce, JTIC deputy director.

During 2017 and 2018, approximately one-third of all requests for information fielded by JTIC through its asknlectc@justnet.org mailbox and (800) 248-2742 telephone number were related to UAS. JTIC processed 335 requests for information for the law-enforcement sensitive document, A Template for Standard Operating Policy (SOP) Guidance for Law Enforcement Use of Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (sUAS), from its release in October 2017 through June 2018.

Development of the UAS home page follows body armor and school safety, two other important topics in the NLECTC portfolio. JTIC staff designed the UAS home page to showcase video content and provide direct links to a new page of agency success stories, frequently asked questions about public safety and UAS, and information on how an agency can start a UAS program. The new subsite also features an updated collection of resource materials and publications, including the National Institute of Justice report, Considerations and Recommendations for Implementing an Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Program and JTIC’s white paper Law Enforcement Guidance Concerning Suspected Unauthorized UAS Operations . The new design ensures that the subsite’s functionality is retained when viewed on mobile devices.

“We’ve updated the navigation menu to help you find what you’re looking for more quickly and easily, including adding a topic-based search in the reference section,” Pierce says. “Before we created the UAS subsite, you had to scroll through a lot of information on JUSTNET to find the information you needed on UAS. Now you can see what’s there at a glance and go straight to the information you need.”

That information includes success stories, which feature programs that have gained recognition for their use of UAS. National Institute of Justice funding, through JTIC, has provided several agencies with small UAS for testing for use during indoor tactical operations, and plans call for the production of a publication featuring lessons learned from that testing in the future.

The UAS home page will soon have links to more videos, accessed through a link to the JUSTNET YouTube channel. These new products, including one featuring guidance from the Federal Aviation Administration on how agencies can cope with unauthorized use of UAS by members of the general public, will join Eyes in the Sky: How Law Enforcement Uses Unmanned Aircraft Systems, which consistently ranks as the most-watched video on the NLECTC YouTube channel. The subsite may be just as popular, registering more than 100 page visits in the first five days after the June 4, 2018 soft launch.

“We’ve added many features that are attractive graphically and also serve as functional improvements,” Pierce says. “Unmanned aircraft systems have the potential to be a useful public safety tool, and law enforcement agencies thinking about standing up a program have a lot to consider. Our new subsite is here to help them find the information they need to make informed decisions.”

For more information on JTIC’s UAS informational resources, contact asknlectc@justnet.org.

Article photo: Kletr/Shutterstock.com