U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

Considerations and Recommendations for Implementing an Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Program

NCJ Number
Date Published
December 2016
102 pages
This report addresses a number of emerging issues and concerns on the use of unmanned aircraft systems by State, local, and tribal law enforcement and public safety agencies discussed at a 2-day convening of experts, which was hosted by the National Institute of Justice on August 12 and 13, 2015.
This meeting was in response to President Obama's Memorandum, "Promoting Economic Competitiveness While Safeguarding Privacy, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties in Domestic Use of Unmanned Aircraft Systems," which was published in February 2015. The goal of the 2015 convening was not to endorse the use of UAS technologies or to encourage any particular type of equipment. Although UAS technology has the potential to be a useful public safety tool, each public safety agency must decide for itself whether this technology will have a positive impact on its mission. The decision should be made in consultation with the community served by the agency. Chapters in this report address the benefits and risks of UAS technologies, privacy and civil liberties issues in the deployment of UAS, consideration for the implementation of UAS technologies, and lessons learned thus far in the use of UAS technologies. Among the lessons learned are to clearly identify the need for the technology and the specific missions for the UAS; gain a full understanding of the complex legal environment in which UAS machines will operate; and determine whether the agency can support the UAS effort, which involves evaluating the technology, funding, storage, maintenance, and training. Appendixes contain guidance and resource documents and a listing of conference attendees.

Date Published: December 1, 2016