University of Kansas drone research team shares technical knowledge with U.S. sheriffs and deputies
At the National Sheriff’s Association’s recent annual conference, deputies and sheriffs from across the United States received a special presentation from university researchers, showcasing the benefits of the most common type of electric aviation.
“Being in front of hundreds of law enforcement officers from across the country and being able to showcase the expertise of the K-State Salina UAS was a great opportunity,” said K-State flight operations manager Spencer Schrader. Salina UAS. “Leading discussions about safety, the latest technology, and information about our campus’ professional development program will lead to life-saving measures that first responders can use in real-life emergencies.”
The presentation that gave them this opportunity focused not only on the latest drone technology, but also on how best law enforcement can make the best use of these clean technologies on a daily basis.
This was part of the conference’s “NSA Talks” series, and the K-State Salina team decided to use their speaking opportunity to present a talk titled “Drones as a First Responder.” The team also gave hands-on demonstrations, taught sheriffs and deputies how they can obtain the required FAA Part 107 remote pilot license, and even helped run the “bucket challenge,” where pilots try to maneuver drones to see what’s inside different buckets (a harder challenger than you might think).
“K-State Salina remains at the forefront of training in the public safety industry,” said Courtney Hoffman, associate director of K-State Salina Professional Education and Outreach. “Our year-round programs utilize the expertise of staff at our Applied Aviation Research Center to provide training and continuing education for law enforcement and public safety professionals. This is essential to provide safety and rescue techniques to law enforcement when using drones.
More importantly, they were able to inform professionals about the university’s educational program which prepares officers for the use of drones. Hopefully, with what little information and fun they’ve had, some sheriff’s offices will send deputies to gain more experience and put more clean tech to work on the streets.
If you’re a public safety professional, be sure to check out the team’s upcoming Public Safety UAS Workshop in October. You can find more details here.
why it matters
If you’ve played with drones or seen kids playing with them, it might seem like anyone can pick one up at Best Buy and start using it. In some ways that’s true, but in other ways it couldn’t be less true. Although modern sensors and smartphone/tablet technology make drones easier to use than ever, that doesn’t mean you’re ready to seriously work with them.
For one thing, there’s a regulatory issue with taking a drone out of a retailer’s box and sending it into the sky: the need for a license. Recreational pilots can take a short online test to show they know the basic rules, but to work with a pilot you must pass the Part 107 test and continue your further education. Whether you’re a cop or a photographer, you’ll need it.
And that’s just federal policy. Some states have additional laws and policies that a pilot should be aware of, and some have law enforcement-specific policies that an officer should be aware of or risk messing up investigations.
The other issue is that it is better to be prepared to meet the challenges of a particular field than the limitations of technology. If you think you can fly a scene with a drone for hours, you’re going to be surprised.
This and many other things should be part of regular training and not something a law enforcement officer has to figure out on their own (and possibly get it wrong). It’s good to see researchers and educational institutions stepping into this space and helping out.
Featured Image: A DJI Mavic Mini 3 Pro, DJI press photo.
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