POLICE Magazine

SEP 2018

Magazine for police and law enforcement

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106 POLICE SEPTEMBER 2018 LOOK, UP IN THE SKY, it ain't a bird, a plane, or Superman; it's a remotely piloted aerial video crime fighting thing-a-ma- jig. It's capable of supporting many vital law enforcement functions, and doesn't cost much. In fact, they're so cheap the bad guys are using them, too. e bad guys are exploiting this technology for criminal purposes at an unrestricted pace, undeterred by laws, costs, or public perception. Law enforcement must put on its cape with the big "S" and prevail in this video star wars. e Kryptonite for police remotely piloted aerial video isn't bad guy jamming devices, training complexity, or le- gal hurdles. It's potentially treacherous optics. You will note that I have not called these aerial devices "drones" or "un- manned aerial vehicles (UAVs)." e optics associated with these names are negative. ere is public distrust of drones, and critics see them as death from above or Big Brother spy- ing from the sky. Branding is im- portant, and it is important for the name of these aerial law enforce- ment vehicles to reflect their posi- tive police mission. Unlike the bad guys, law en- forcement must be mindful of the imperative of winning community trust. Yes, program transparency and strong agency policies are important, as well as thorough training. But in the end, law enforcement must conquer the optics challenge and win the trust of the American citizenry. A good example of how to accomplish this was illustrat- ed in Michael Hamann's "How to Implement and Justify a Drone Program" (POLICE, January 2018). In his opening paragraph, Hamann describes a real example of how a re- motely piloted aerial video vehicle was used to quickly lo- cate children that went missing in a park. Positive life-sav- ing stories can conquer a thousand criticisms. As POLICE Magazine Editor David Griffith discussed in his article "Drone Vs Drone" (POLICE, January 2018), drones can be used against law enforcement." While Griffith advo- cates correctly for police capacity to counter bad guy drone use, it is also important that these examples be cataloged and shared with the community. Law enforcement needs to illustrate the dire consequences of the good guys doing nothing in response to criminal aerial video engagement. e Police Foundation has created a guide for law en- forcement agencies seeking to build strong aerial video programs. And the International Association of Chiefs of Police has issued Recommended Guidelines for the Use of Unmanned Aircraft. ese resources are invaluable when building department aerial video programs. ey properly stress the need to be mindful of public Fourth Amendment and privacy concerns, as well as the need to implement strong policy for aerial video use. As technolog y continues to evolve, and as criminals seek to exploit it, law enforcement needs to be out front and not in the rear. Reference books and guidelines are criti- cal for sharing best practices for building integrity-driven programs, but they have a limited purpose. Once an agen- cy launches its aerial video program, it has to sustain and constantly validate it. Given the relatively low cost of aerial video vehicle acquisition and officer training and certifica- tion, all departments will inevitably initiate a remotely piloted aerial vid- eo program. is isn't a passing fad. How does law enforcement sus- tain public confidence in how it ad- ministers a public safety aerial video program? To help guide a unified law enforcement approach to ad- ministering unmanned aerial video services, I recommend the creation of a national center for police aerial video en- gagement. is resource could support department efforts to both stand up and sustain aerial video programs. A national center would have the capacity to catalog all positive instances of law enforcement deploying life-saving aerial video. Of equal importance, the center could capture real incidents that disclose criminal schemes that are ex- ploiting this technology. e center could provide guidance on sustained community engagement, and arm depart- ments with a library of aerial video life-saving success sto- ries. e center would help law enforcement overcome pub- lic distrust with real examples in support of their program. If law enforcement can convince communities that their aerial video program is for saving lives and not Big Brother spying, they can advance their public safety missions. With the real-time support of a national center, law enforcement can defeat optics challenges and sustain community trust. With the right support, police can clip the bad guys' video wings, and use this technology to keep communities safe. EYES IN THE SKY The Federal Voice J I RECOMMEND THE CREATION OF A NATIONAL CENTER FOR POLICE AERIAL VIDEO ENGAGEMENT. JON ADLER, PRESIDENT, FEDERAL LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICERS ASSOCIATION FOUNDATION JON ADLER Police need to find ways to convince the public that flying video platforms are essential to public safety and not Big Brother spying.

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