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Thursday, September 28th, 2023

Sheriffs association takes first steps toward template for law enforcement use of drones

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With drones becoming more incorporated into modern life, the National Sheriffs’ Association (NSA) is getting in on the action and has created a working group to create a template governing law enforcement use of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) nationwide.

The need for such a template has accelerated, in the sheriffs’ view, with the increased use of UAS in all sectors — something that presents many problems, especially in terms of privacy and security concerns. The working group will consider the commerce, recreational, and law enforcement sides of drones, and as such, the group will consist of both sheriffs and industry experts. At its helm will be Mark Waslyshyn of Wood County, Ohio, and co-chair Justin Smith of Larimer County, Colo.

“Drones have become a fixture in law enforcement to support them in keeping their communities safe, and sheriffs have been at the forefront of the issues and the regulations related to them,” NSA Executive Director Jonathan Thompson, said. “Sheriffs around the country are the leaders on this issue and will tackle future challenges, and we are proud to have Sheriffs Wasylyshyn and Smith to lead the group.”

The NSA envisions the working group as a neutral forum that can be used to advise governments and others on standards of use, legal limitations and obligations, operations, emergency response, commercial capabilities, and challenges of the technology, among other things. Representatives from all levels of government, the private sector, and public entities will be able to get involved.

Despite the recent move toward a template, though, the NSA notes it has been involved with law enforcement use of drones for more than 15 years. The technology is evolving — and that means changing to meet its particular demands.