UAS for Public Safety header for mobile view

Publications and Materials — List View  

Publications and other resource materials are available to help law enforcement and corrections agencies understand various issues surrounding UAS. Here is a list of pertinent materials from government organizations and related groups.

Show grid view   

American National Standards Institute (ANSI)

ANSI is a non-profit organization whose mission is to enhance U.S. global competitiveness and the American quality of life by promoting, facilitating, and safeguarding the integrity of the voluntary standardization and conformity assessment system.

ANSI Standardization Roadmap for Unmanned Aircraft Systems Released for Comment


Federal Aviation Administration

The FAA has a number of resources available for operators and stakeholders regarding UAS operations, safety, regulation and guidance, which can be accessed within the menu of the main UAS page. For example:

  •   Mobile APP  

    B4UFLY, a smartphone app provided by the FAA that helps unmanned aircraft operators determine whether there are any restrictions or requirements in effect at the location where they want to fly.

  •   Brief - PDF  

    Law Enforcement Guidance Concerning Suspected Unauthorized UAS Operations, Version 4, 6/5/2017
    is intended to assist law enforcement agencies in understanding the legal framework that serves as the basis for FAA legal enforcement action against UAS operators for unauthorized and/or unsafe UAS operations, and to provide guidance regarding the role of agencies in deterring, detecting and investigating unauthorized and/or unsafe UAS operations.

  •   Reference Card - PDF  

    Basic Law Enforcement Response D.R.O.N.E. (October 2016)
    The FAA has developed the Basic Law Enforcement Response D.R.O.N.E card. It is designed for law enforcement officers who are dealing with suspected illegal UAS operations.

International Fire Chiefs Association

The IAFC website provides a starting point for fire and emergency service agencies interested in using UAS.

Justice Technology Information Center

  • Two new reports are available related to law enforcement use of unmanned aircraft systems.

    Testing of Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems for Law Enforcement Use in Indoor Tactical Missions (NCJ 252858)
    This report from the Justice Technology Information Center, and available from the National Criminal Justice Reference Service (NCJRS), summarizes testing done by three law enforcement agencies on using small unmanned aircraft systems (sUAS) for indoor tactical missions. As law enforcement continues to explore uses for sUAS technology, available information on the use of sUAS to support law enforcement operations indoors is limited. Information on the effects and potential limitations imposed by maneuvering in tight, confined spaces and in environments where GPS, video, and command/control coverage may or may not be ideal could help agencies considering use of sUAS indoors. The report summarizes general testing observations and findings for each agency.

    NOTE: As of September 30, 2019, the JTIC program has ended. To obtain a copy of the report from NCJRS, send an email to from a legitimate government agency/law enforcement agency email address (no Yahoo, Gmail, etc.).

    Selection and Implementation of Unmanned Aircraft Systems Technology for Law Enforcement (NCJ 252857)
    As unmanned aircraft system (UAS) technology continues to evolve, identifying and implementing the best UAS technology to meet the particular needs of law enforcement can be challenging. In late 2017, a National Institute of Justice law enforcement focus group on UAS met to discuss and exchange information on their agencies’ use or desired use of UAS, lessons learned by agencies with established UAS programs, and trends and issues surrounding the technology. This brief report from the Justice Technology Information Center, and available from the National Criminal Justice Reference Service (NCJRS), highlights some basic insights/lessons learned from focus group members on implementing a UAS program and choosing and operating UAS technology.

    NOTE: As of September 30, 2019, the JTIC program has ended. To obtain a copy of the report from NCJRS, send an email to from a legitimate government agency/law enforcement agency email address (no Yahoo, Gmail, etc.).

  • Video

    Safer Skies: How the FAA Helps Law Enforcement Respond to Reports of Improper Use of UAS
    (Oct. 3, 2018)
    This video provides law enforcement officers with information to assist them when investigating UAS complaints from the community. It is produced by the Justice Technology Information Center (JTIC), a program of the National Institute of Justice (NIJ), and features input from experts at the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Law enforcement officers are encouraged to remember the acronym DRONE which stands for Direct, Report, Observe, Notice and Execute.

  •  Video 

    Ready for Takeoff: Alameda County Sheriff’s Office UAS Program
    (Feb 6, 2019)
    The Alameda County Sheriff's Office uses unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) in a variety of ways to assist with investigations and work with other first responders to enhance public safety. This video takes a look at their program and showcases some of their successes using UAS.

  •   White Paper - PDF  

    Law Enforcement Guidance Concerning Suspected Unauthorized UAS Operations (July 2016)
    This white paper provides guidance to law enforcement agencies on how to assess UAS operations within their jurisdictions and suggests actions to interdict and mitigate unauthorized, illegal or risky operations.

  •   Video  

    Eyes in the Sky: How Law Enforcement Uses Unmanned Aircraft Systems (May 2016)
    Video highlights the functionality of UAS and how the Mesa County Sheriff’s Office in Grand Junction, Colorado, uses the technology to assist in crime scene and traffic accident investigations, and offers law enforcement agencies tips to consider when standing up a UAS program.

National Conference of State Legislatures

The Current Unmanned State Law Landscape site on the NCSL website is periodically updated with information on state laws addressing UAS.

National Institute of Justice

National League of Cities

Police Foundation

Articles in Trade Journals

  •   Article The Chula Vista Police Department received FAA authorization to expand the geographical reach of its UAS operations. Read the March 19, 2019 article, Calif. PD gets FAA authorization to expand geographical reach of drone.

  •   Article - PDF  

    Corrections Today. November/December 2016. Article on “Eyes in the Skies: The Latest Threat to Correctional Institution Security.”

    This article examines the problems that improper use of unmanned aircraft systems can cause for correctional facilities. It provides an overview of how UAS can be used to smuggle contraband into facilities, presents detection and mitigation solutions, and looks at legal and policy considerations.

  •   Journal - PDF  

    FLETC Journal. Fall-Winter 2016.
    This issue contains two articles related to UAS and law enforcement: “Unmanned Aerial Vehicles: Uses for Law Enforcement” and “Drones: Your Agency’s Best Friend or Worst Enemy.” The Federal Law Enforcement Training Centers provide training in areas common to law enforcement officers, such as firearms, driving, tactics, investigations and legal training.

  •   Magazine -HTML  

    POLICE magazine. Article on “Getting Your Unmanned Aircraft Program Off the Ground” from August 2016  
    Provides an overview of setting up a UAS program.

Other Resources

  • Center for the Study of Drones at Bard College. This publication presents information on an update to the Center’s database of public safety agencies with drones; an estimated 910 state and local police, sheriff, fire and emergency services agencies in the United States have acquired drones, with an estimated 82 percent increase in 2017 alone.

  • UAS for Public Safety – Working Group. This working group is to assist vetted public safety professionals integrate their programs into the National Air Space. To be a member of this group, you will be required to validate your membership and/or employment with a public safety entity or affiliate.