POLICE Magazine

NOV 2018

Magazine for police and law enforcement

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A T 32 POLICE NOVEMBER 2018 southern United States. Halfway through the headlining act's set, a small, four-blad- ed drone begins hovering over the crowd. A fine mist begins emanating from a con- tainer mounted to the bottom of the drone. Taken by surprise, concertgoers beneath the drone react with fear and begin rub- bing their eyes, shielding themselves, and running from the area. e initial disrup- tion causes panic from other members of the crowd, who then begin to flee the area. Of course, this hasn't happened yet. But it could. Even the latest generation of hobby drones could be weaponized by ter- rorists or criminals as bomb or chemical delivery systems. And it's already happen- ing in some of the world's most dangerous areas. • American forces recovered video from a seized drone that showed it being armed with free-falling explosives. In the video, the ISIS drone departed from the insur- gents' location, overflew a small unit of sol- diers, and dropped its explosive payload. ankfully, the noise of the drone caught the soldiers' attention, and they were able to take cover and initiate cover fire before any serious damage was inflicted. • In August, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro was reportedly the target of a drone attack during a political rally. Maduro was forced to take shelter after two explosive-laden drones detonated been difficult given the stringent legal tests each piece of technology must pass. Multiple legal challenges exist for gov- ernmental and non-governmental orga- nizations seeking mitigation strategies. Passive counter-drone technology involv- ing the detection and identification of drones is becoming increasingly popular through RF sensing, video algorithm de- tection, acoustic frequency monitoring, or a combination of all three. To date, ac- tive counter-drone technology is still ille- gal, with few specific exceptions. Congress enacted provisions for the Department of Defense and Energy to "use reasonable force to disable, damage, or destroy" drones over select facilities through the National Defense Autho- rization Act of 2017. Congress later ex- panded the authority to the Department of Defense to "detect, monitor, and track" as well as "disrupt control of" or "seize" drones through the National Defense Au- thorization Act of 2018. United States Code delegates the statu- tory authority for aviation to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Accord- ingly, the FAA established the definition of an aircraft under 49 USC § 40102 as "any contrivance invented, used, or designed to navigate, or fly in, the air." In Huerta v. Pirker (2014), the court affirmed the FAA's opinion that drones are considered air- craft, and therefore covered by the same regulations as manned aircraft. Realizing the immediate threat to national security, Congress has provided relief to the Depart- ment of Defense for criminal acts covering aircraft piracy (49 USC § 46502) and the en- tire criminal code (all of USC Title 18). CRASH COMPLICATIONS Active counter-drone conceptual tech- nologies involve overpowering the con- trol segment of the drone, jamming the drone's control link, and a variety of kinet- ic countermeasures to physically disable the drone. Unfortunately, with the excep- tion of the allowances afforded to the De- partment of Defense, these measures are illegal for use by other governmental and non-governmental organizations. A se- ries of FAA and FCC regulations and fed- eral laws prohibits the counter-drone sys- tems developed by a number of domestic research and development organizations being used by law enforcement. nearby. Characterized as an assassination attempt by the Venezuelan government, the attack ended without any fatalities. However, it did result in pandemonium as attendees were sent fleeing for cover. While both drones were armed with ex- plosive devices, only one came close to detonating near the Venezuelan Presi- dent. e other struck a building, causing it to crash and explode. Law enforcement officials arrested six individuals suspect- ed of being connected to the attack. • ere's also evidence that terrorists are planning to use drones for attack. Open source intelligence reports have re- turned photographs, video, and detailed ISIS literature about weaponizing com- mercial-grade drones. Incidents like this are why some Ameri- can law enforcement agencies are asking certain questions: How can we adequate- ly respond to the potential public safety threat that could be presented by drones? What tools do we have available to legally mitigate the threat of drone attacks? THE LAW e concern about how to counter drone attacks has been present among public safety officials during the rapid develop- ment of drone technology. But institut- ing drone countermeasures in the United States, compared to other countries, has CAN YOU LEGALLY COUNTER A DRONE? Deploying counter-drone technology by force to disrupt a drone's flight (including interfering with the operator of a drone) is potentially an act of aircraft piracy. PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES

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