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Across the country, in the face of calls for drastic reform, cities, counties and law enforcement leaders are discussing the possibility that unarmed social workers will be sent to many calls to which officers have typically been dispatched. These include quality-of-life calls such as intoxicated persons, neighborly disputes and calls related to homeless persons panhandling or otherwise harassing business patrons, etc. These could also include more serious calls such as crime against property and indecent exposure—essentially any calls that do not involve imminent threat to persons seem to be on the table.
These proposals, which were unthinkable for most agencies just a few months ago, are also gaining steam as many agencies see accelerating retirements and resignations in the face of anti-police sentiment. In light of the political atmosphere and manpower shortages, many agencies see these changes as the best way to play the cards that they have been dealt.
A confounding question seems likely to doom many of these initiatives—where are all of these trained social workers? Many social worker positions are currently vacant, and yet we expect new crops of social workers to emerge practically overnight? This should lead agencies to consider another alternative: utilizing small unmanned aerial systems (drones) to rapidly respond to calls for service that do not involve an imminent threat to persons. In this two hour webinar, Attorney Matt Dolan will discuss existing case law, pending legal challenges and potential pitfalls for law enforcement agencies as they consider the use of drones for the purposes of surveillance, threat assessment and evidence gathering as part of a broader strategy to minimize confrontations between officers and members of the public.