The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) has launched a new unmanned aircraft systems (UAS or drones) program for public safety purposes. The DPS plans to use its 17 drones for a variety of public safety purposes across the State, including officer safety, search and rescue, disaster support, aerial observation support, crash reconstruction, crime scene photography, and communication tower inspection. All DPS employees who operate the drones will have their Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) remote pilot certification as required under the FAA’s Part 107 rule. To date, the DPS has three employees who are now certified and operating their drones during daylight hours.

The DPS expended about $70,000 for the drones, which was paid for by the DPS’ grant funding and seized funds. We are sure to see more and more law enforcement and public safety organizations across the country implement programs similar to this.