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Drones: What Public Safety Officials Need to Know


  • Bill Bongle
    Captain, Green Bay Police Department, WI (Ret.)

Small Unmanned Aerial Systems (commonly referred to as “drones”) are an emerging technology which offers exciting possibilities for public safety. Drones could be used to situational awareness while keeping first responders out of harm’s way. Despite the many legitimate uses of drones, privacy advocates have raised concerns. Several states, including Wisconsin, have passed “drone legislation” which regulates the way drones may be used. Any agency seeking to use a drone must also receive approval from the FAA.

As drones increase in popularity, police are beginning to receive citizen complaints. Is your agency equipped to investigate these complaints?  Are you familiar with the laws which regulate drones? Would you recognize the difference between a “hobby drone” that is operating legally and one that could pose a threat to public safety?

This training will introduce you to the world of drones, help you to understand the complicated regulations and gain a better understanding of the technology. If your agency is contemplating using a drone or if you want to be prepared to investigate citizen complaints, this training will provide you the information you need.

Course Objectives:

  • Introduction to Drones
    • Drone basics and the fundamentals of unmanned flight
    • Overview of current technology, capabilities and trends
    • Understanding the terminology
    • FAA rules for recreational and commercial operators
    • Rules restricting drone operation near airports and sensitive locations
    • Drone registration, when registration is required
    • What you need to know before enacting a drone ordinance
  • Investigating Drone Incidents
    • Case studies of incidents involving drones
    • Review of drone laws—local, state and federal
    • Defining local law enforcement’s role in regulating drone use
    • Knowing when to intervene and recognizing legitimate use
    • Collecting and interpreting electronic evidence from drones
    • How and when to contact the FAA
    • Online resources
  • Establishing a Drone Program
    • Practical applications for village/municipal government, police, fire, rescue and emergency government
    • Overview of the FAA’s requirements and approval process for public agencies
    • Privacy issues and case law regarding surveillance from the air
    • Policy development and best practices
    • Identifying suitable equipment and setting a budget
    • Mitigating public opposition; balancing privacy concerns with public safety
    • Civilian Search and Rescue Groups

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