Editor’s note: This is the full RCPD drone policy that The Mercury wrote about in Tuesday’s paper.
46.2.01 Emergency Response Unit — Unmanned Aerial Systems (Drone) Team
Chapter: 46 — Critical Incidents, Patrol, And Homeland Security
1. Philosophy: Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS or Drones) provide agencies with a safe, advanced technological approach to aerial photography as they pertain to law enforcement operations.
2. Purpose: The Unmanned Aerial Systems Team (UAS) will directly assist the operations elements of the Department in the prevention of crime, the apprehension of criminals, the preservation of the public peace, protect the personal and property rights of the citizens of Manhattan and Riley County, Kansas. The UAS will utilize a high definition camera and/ or thermal imaging system to provide real time situational awareness enhancing strategic and tactical law enforcement operations when other means and resources are not available or are less effective. The ability to provide this aerial view will enhance officer safety without placing additional officers at risk while increasing public safety and aid in the safe apprehension of criminals. This policy is not intended to be all-inclusive, but rather it is designed to aid in defining department procedure and deployment, while adhering to current FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) regulations that govern UAS usage, and those detailed in the manufacture’s flight manual. Specially trained and equipped members of the UAS Team will be available 24 hours a day to operate the department’s UAS aircraft for both routine and critical incident situations.
3. Policy: It is the policy of the Riley County Police Department to operate the Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) in coordination with law enforcement officers conducting a specific mission as guided by the either FAA Title 14 CFR part 107 regulations and applicable waivers/authorizations, or a Certificate of Authorization (COA) issued by the (FAA). These operational procedures are designed to minimize risk to people, property, and aircraft during the operation of the UAS while continuing to safeguard the right to privacy of all persons according to the United States Constitution.
PROTECTION OF THE NON-PARTICIPATING PUBLIC. All operations should occur within a secured perimeter, with controlled access into and out of the area, when feasible. Absent an FAA waiver authorizing flight over people, best efforts shall be made to offset operations from persons not involved in the operation.
SEARCH WARRANTS. Search warrants shall be obtained when required by law.
4. Team Composition: The UAS Team is comprised of four members:
• One Team Leader
• Three team members
5. Command and Control: During routine UAS deployments operational control will be under the patrol division commander or his designee. During a critical incident requiring deployment of the UAS Team, overall command is in accordance with established incident Command Protocols.
A. Coordination and cooperation between the various Divisions of the Department, ERU Specialty Teams, and the UAS Team is critical. The Division Commander or designated supervisor responsible for the incident shall assume Incident Command, be fully briefed on the capabilities of the team and will assume operational control of the team and all support staff at their discretion.
B. The Director or his designee will be kept apprised of developments in the incident and reserves the right to make decisions deemed to fall within the Director’s purview and which are necessary to the successful completion of the mission. The day-to-day chain of command for the Team is:
1) Team Leader: The Team Leader will be appointed by the Director.
2) Patrol Division Commander: The Patrol Division Commander will provide day-to-day administrative command and control over the UAS Team;
3) Incident Commander (during ICs).
4) Director, or in his absence, the Assistant Director.
C. The UAS Team Leader or his designee has command and control of all team members during the planning and mission execution phases. Divisions that request UAS Team assistance will provide support as needed.
6. Utilization: The UAS Team may be deployed but not limited to the following situations:
• Critical Incident / Tactical Operation to provide situational awareness to on scene Commanders;
• Traffic crash investigation / reconstruction; Crime scene activities (e.g., photography / video, evidence identification and recovery);
• Search and Rescue operations;
• ERU Special Teams Support (Tactical, Bomb, HMRT, Negotiation, SIU); 3D mapping / modeling of critical infrastructure or pre-event mapping for planning public events; Support of other agency operations (Manhattan, Rural Fire, Emergency Management, OJ Agencies)
• Training activities;
• Community relations activities (e.g., citizens’ academy, National Night Out); and Any other situation where it is believed that use of the UAS would be beneficial
• Deployment outside Riley County will be approved by the Director or designee.
The UAS program is intended to be supportive of all areas within the department. Members are encouraged to request the use of a UAS to assist them in the performance of their duties.
7. Authorization for Call Out:
A. Routine Operation; The UAS may be deployed by an on-duty UAS Remote Pilot for patrol or investigative functions. Any supervisor may immediately contact the UAS Team leader and request a call out for an off-duty UAS Remote Pilot to respond to assist with patrol or investigative functions, emergency or critical incidents under the authority of the Patrol Division Commander.
B. Pre-Planned Event: The decision to request the assistance of the UA$ Team is not always obvious. There may be low risk and high risk events where the UAS team would provide needed operational support. For those low risk pre-planned events (extended crime scene search, aerial surveillance, area searches, other agency support, etc.) the UAS Team Leader will be responsible for coordinating scheduling with the approval of the Patrol Division Commander and the UAS Team members parent divisions.
For high risk events, the Department has developed a threat assessment matrix that shall be used for the planning of all warrants to be served upon an occupied structure. The matrix should be completed by the officer and the supervisor with the most knowledge about the planned event and the matrix will assist in the determination of UAS team usage. The Director or designee will have final approval of any planned UAS team usage in pre-planned high risk events.
8. Team Selection: Appointment to the UAS Team is voluntary. Team positions are designated as specialized assignments within the Department. Selection processes conducted will at a minimum meet guidelines established in Policy 16.2.1, Specialized Assignments. (CALEA 46.2.2)
1) Two years’ service as a member of the Riley County Police Department;
2) A demonstrated ability to handle stressful situations and use good judgment in times of stress;
3) Have an acceptable current job performance evaluation and personnel file;
4) Meet the department’s physical fitness requirements for the member’s current job classification and have no medical condition which would preclude safe UAS operations.
5) The ability to cope with varied responsibilities.
6) Completion of the FAA’s free Part 107 small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) online course. (https://https://www.faasafety.gov/gslac/ALC/CourseLanding.aspx?cID=451)
B. Application Process: Any member of the Department may submit a letter of interest through their chain of command to the Human Resource Coordinator. Letters must contain at a minimum the following information.
• Name, years of service, and current duty assignment;
• Areas of interest, applicable skills and reason for the application;
• Previous experience with UAS or remote controlled vehicles;
• Other qualifications that would benefit UAS operations and the department.
• Supervisor recommendation. (Required)
C. Selection Process:
1) Review: The Team Leader will review the applicant’s performance evaluations and personnel file. The Team Leader will only report to the Assessment Board that the applicant’s record is “acceptable” or “unacceptable.”
2) Assessment Board: A panel consisting of the Team Leader, The Team Leader of another RCPD ERU Team, and a third TBA member. The Assessment Board will:
• Proctor a UAS skills assessment
• Meet each applicant individually and assess the applicant for judgment, skills, and performance under stress.
• Review the applicant’s physical ability test results for UAS team performance only.
• Rank the successful applicants in the order of best to least qualified.
• If requested, provide the applicant with the written results of their testing and placement.
3) Appointment: Upon completion of the selection process the Team Leader will submit a written recommendation to the Director. The Director will appoint new personnel from the Team Leader’s recommendations. The Director may appoint any of the top three applicants.
Resignation, Suspension, or Removal:
D. Resignation: A team member may request resignation from the team by submitting a letter to the Director through the UAS Team chain of command
E. Suspension: The Director may at his discretion, temporarily suspend a member from the UAS Team. Typically, such suspensions are imposed for an inability to perform physical standards (illness or injury), inability to perform to regular duty standards (unsatisfactory performance evaluations), a pending disciplinary matter, or involvement in a critical incident pending a review of the incident.
1) The suspended member will not participate in missions or any other team related activities to include training while suspended.
F. Removal: The Director may remove, at his discretion, a member from the UAS Team. The removed member will return all team related equipment and supplies. The Director’s decision is final.