BY PAUL PELUSO
The Department of Justice on Friday released its first written guidelines for the domestic use of unmanned aircraft.
The policy highlights the growing importance of Unmanned Aerial System — referred to at times as “drones” by the public — to federal law enforcement agencies such as the DEA, FBI and ATF and stresses that the use of the devices must take into account civil rights and rights afforded by the U.S. Constitution.
A news release issued by the DOJ stated that the policy is a result of various discussions and research, and that meetings will continue to be held to ensure a balance is found between L.E. and national security missions and the respect for civil rights and civil liberties.
“UAS are used at times by law enforcement agencies as cost-effective, efficient and potentially life-saving tools to support public safety efforts,” the statement reads.
Unmanned aircraft have been used in search and rescue operations as well as drug, fugitive and kidnapping cases.
In 2013, Baltimore County, Md., Police Capt. Don Roby, Chairman of the International Association of Chiefs of Police’s aviation committee, told Officer.com that departments must enlist the help of their communities to help quell some of the privacy concerns that have led public backlash in the past.
“People think the government is going to be following them around in these quiet, stealthy, unmanned aircraft,” he said. “As law enforcement — as public servants — we have to reassure the public that that’s not going to happen.”
The organization released its own guidelines on the use of unmanned aircraft in 2012.