POLICE Magazine

NOV 2018

Magazine for police and law enforcement

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Page 38 of 62

A 34 POLICE NOVEMBER 2018 A major concern with deploying kinet- ic and non-kinetic technologies against drones exists in the indirect results of the drone's disruption. Deploying counter-drone technology by force (including kinetic methods, such as with a firearm) to disrupt a drone's flight (including interfering with the op- erator of a drone) is potentially an act of aircraft piracy under 49 USC § 46502 and punishable by 20 years of imprisonment. If the drone is disrupted to the point that it is damaged or destroyed, the Department of Justice considers the act a violation of 18 USC § 32, "aircraft sabotage." Given the scenario demonstrated at the beginning of this article, an ill-advised solution is to shoot the drone out of the sky. Care must be given to the end result of firing a firearm into the air toward a moving drone at a variable distance. Whether or not the cartridge fired at the drone contains a lethal projectile, the resultant reaction has the potential to damage property or injure people below the drone. If the cartridge in the example provided contains a small net deployed by a shotgun shell fired from a moderate dis- tance, two outcomes are possible: 1) the cartridge's payload will miss the target and fall into the crowd beyond the drone or 2) the payload will successfully deploy on the target, causing the inert drone to crash, potentially into the crowd below. A collaborative study conducted be- tween multiple collegiate institutes for the Federal Aviation Administration's UAS Center for Excellence Task Force ("UAS Ground Collision Severity Evalua- tion" Revision 2. Final Report for the FAA UAS Center of Excellence Task A4) dem- onstrated a failed drone's impact to the human body. e resultant impact of a plastic rotary drone to the crash test dum- my was between 9 foot-pounds and 233 foot-pounds, depending on the angle and speed of the falling drone. e study's ex- periments were conducted under the as- sumption that the drone's rotating blades would not cause any further damage to the crash test dummy. In 2014, the Sydney Morning Herald re- ported that a marathon runner received serious lacerations requiring multiple stitches after a drone providing video cov- erage of the marathon experienced a com- munications failure and fell onto the run- drone. Federal law prohibits the "willful and malicious injury or destruction of the works, property, or material of any radio, telegraph, or cable, line, station, or sys- tem, or other means of communication…" under 18 USC § 1362. Additionally, when commands are sent via radio signal in lieu of GPS, the Communications Act of 1934, by means of 47 USC § 333, states that "no person shall willfully or maliciously in- terfere with or cause interference to any radio communications of any station li- censed or authorized by the United States government." e process of "spoofing" a drone by seizing control of it remotely involves emit- ting a signal, which confuses the drone and makes it believe the new signal is le- gitimate. By doing so, the counter-drone technology acquires the content of the broadcast signal to issue alternate control instructions, which violates the Wiretap Act defined in part by 18 USC § 2510. When the legalities of counter-drone technologies have been sorted out by lawmakers, the next hurdle for law en- forcement agencies will be evaluating the most effective method of counter- drone technology for their agency. While counter-drone technologies go through their development and due process, it is important to remember that law enforce- ment officers are still empowered to act on a threat with an appropriate level of force. A drone hovering over a crowd without the appearance of a payload may be worth monitoring. If the pilot of the drone is lo- cated, it may be prudent to engage them in a discussion about the safety consider- ations of their operation. Further educa- tion and follow-up with the pilot may be necessary and can be provided by con- tacting the local Federal Aviation Admin- istration Law Enforcement Assistance Program Special Agent through the ap- propriate law enforcement channels. Michael Hamann is a certified air traffic control specialist with the Federal Avia- tion Administration. He holds a master of arts degree in emergency management and homeland security from Arizona State Uni- versity and a Bachelor of Science Degree in aeronautical studies from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. His views do not necessarily represent those of the Federal Aviation Administration. ner. During a family event in Gifu, Japan, an 8-pound, 30-inch drone distributing candy to attendees suffered a communica- tions link failure and crashed into a crowd of bystanders. At least six people suffered injuries, according to Kyodo News. WHAT YOU CAN DO A drone hovering over a crowd with the appearance of a payload that can be artic- ulated as an imminent threat to the lives of the attendees or other officers may require an appropriate use of force in line with the agency's use-of-force policy. But the law doesn't permit it. So what can you do? e utilization of non-kinetic methods for mitigating drones requires further ex- amination to determine effectiveness and practicality. Whether or not injury oc- curs, the problem continues to lie within the statutory violations of signal interfer- ence between the drone operator and the THE RESULTANT IMPACT OF A PLASTIC ROTARY DRONE TO THE CRASH TEST DUMMY WAS BETWEEN 9 FOOT- POUNDS AND 233 FOOT- POUNDS, DEPENDING ON THE ANGLE AND SPEED OF THE FALLING DRONE. CAN YOU LEGALLY COUNTER A DRONE? PHOTOS: GETTY IMAGES

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