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Department of Justice Sets UAS Guidelines

Oct. 30, 2020
Guidelines pertain to the use of unmanned aircraft systems in law-enforcement applications.

The U.S. Department of Justice has released its policies on the short- and long-term use of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) for law enforcement, as part of its 9.95-000 series documentation. Although the FBI and a growing number of other government agencies have used drones (such as the Shadow X Drone in the figure) in their work, strong privacy guidelines are needed in place to protect against the use of drones for surveillance and as armed systems.

The 9.95-000 series documentation pertains to the use of UAS equipment for law enforcement. The UAS policies contain technology to detect and mitigate UAS raiders per 9.95-300. The Department of Justice has made it clear that, properly deployed, UAS can reduce risk to law enforcement officers and the public while minimizing costs and increasing the efficiency of law enforcement. The use of UAS equipment allows federal law enforcement officer to conduct a wide range of critical missions, including search and rescue and fixed-site security.

The Department of Justice maintains that its use of UAS devices will be consistent with the Department’s own rule of law and the protection of privacy and civil liberties, and the use of UAS devices will comply with all applicable provisions of the Constitution, including the Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable search and seizure as well as regulations issued by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Prior to implementation, the operation of a UAS must be approved by the Deputy Attorney General to ensure that the UAS are deployed responsibly. In addition, members of the Department of Justice will work with the FAA to manage any necessary air traffic.

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