Washington Police Dept. Maintains Transparency for New UAS Program

The Lakewood Police Department in Washington state recently launched its new unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) program, whose usage is being publicly reported every month.

According to the City of Lakewood, which has nearly 60,000 residents, the department is one of the largest in Washington. The city’s public safety advisory committe helped draft policy regulations on the police’s usage of the technology, and the Federal Aviation Administration issued a Certificate of Authorization after vetting and approving the regulations.

The city says the policies state that the UAS can be used only for specific operations. This includes assessing damage in hazardous conditions; assisting with search and rescue; providing awareness to support officers in emergency situations; documenting traffic collisions; and collecting evidence of a crime (under an approved judicial search warrant).

Notably, the department says it is maintaining its “priorities on safety, transparency and privacy.” Its October report states three drone flights for 5.8 hours total for training purposes, and its November report states three drone flights for 4.9 hours total for training, as well as a search and rescue mission.

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