UAS Program Reporting and Evaluation

The issues of UAS legality, safety, and technology are just now beginning to be explored, largely because of the scarcity of data available. Key to the process of evaluation is the process of reporting and data collection.

Performance and Safety Reporting

While federal regulations under Part 107 require sUAS operators to report accidents that meet certain criteria, data on law enforcement responses to incidents involving their own sUAS is currently not uniformly collected. 
  • Part 107 requires the remote pilot in command to notify the FAA within 10 days of any sUAS accident that involves:

    Serious injury to any person or any loss of consciousness; or in the case of property damage other than the sUAS, accidents in which:

    • The cost of repair (including materials and labor) exceeds $500; or
    • The fair market value of the property exceeds $500 in the event of total loss.
As the law enforcement community increasingly employs sUAS, decisions regarding regulation, training, technology, and policy will need to be informed by sound data and research.

Program Evaluation

Because so few law enforcement agencies have implemented an operational sUAS program, the steps to full implementation are less defined than the planning steps. Even less defined still, is the process of evaluating both the implementation and performance of operational sUAS programs.
Any sUAS evaluation process should be designed to allow law enforcement executives and program staff to also evaluate and report on the impact of a sUAS program and should include both a quantitative and qualitative component. The qualitative component refers to gauging ongoing community engagement.
The Police Foundation community policing and sUAS focus groups provided key recommendations for the continual development and maintenance of trust around UAS.
Recommendations include:
  • Seek out opportunities to educate the community about the sUAS program and be open to learning from them about their concerns and suggestions.

  • Send the sUAS team to community group meetings to display the sUAS and explain the agency’s plan of operations and the commitment to safety and privacy.

  • Invite the media and community leaders in small groups to a training mission where the sUAS is being utilized to demonstrate how the sUAS team works to protect safety and privacy.

  • Work with the media to inform the community of scheduled testing being led by the department and leverage them todiscuss both successes and failures in the department’s use of UAS.

  • Work with existing stakeholder organizations, such as citizen advisory boards, to involve members of the community and gain their perspective.

  • Post photos and video on the agency website and provide links and updates on the agency’s social media platforms.

  • Maintain an open door policy for community members who call with concerns or criticisms regarding the UAS program.

Research Brief

Focus group recommendations regarding community engagement.

Legal Memo

Building Public Understanding.

Police Foundation sUAS Resources

  • Currently under development, the goal of this system is to collect data on sUAS operations in order to identify the safest, most ethical, and most efficient ways to integrate sUAS into law enforcement operations.