Unmanned Aerial System (Drone)

Unmanned Aerial System (UAS/Drones) Operations - Policy 609.1

609.1 Purpose & Scope

  • The purpose of this policy is to establish guidelines for the use of Small Unmanned Aerial Systems (sUAS / Drones). This policy should be used in conjunction with all other applicable policies and procedures.

609.1.1 Definitions

  • Unmanned Aerial System (sUAS) / Drone - An unmanned aircraft of any type (weighing less than 55 pounds) that is capable of sustaining directed flight, whether preprogrammed or remotely controlled (commonly referred to as an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV)), and all of the supporting or attached systems designed for gathering information through imaging, recording, or any other means. For the purpose of this policy, a UAS includes a drone, as defined by ORS 837.300.
  • Remote Pilot in Command (PIC) - The PIC is a Forest Grove Police Employee who has obtained and maintains a valid remote pilot airman certificate in compliance with all Federal Aviation Regulations. The PIC is responsible for the complete and overall operation of any UAS flight they command.
  • Visual Observer (VO) - A Forest Grove Employee or other designated person who conducts flight operations to support police UAS missions. The VO will be trained by police employees (PIC) who have obtained and maintain valid remote pilot airman certificates in compliance with all federal aviation regulations.

609.2 Policy

  • Drones, also referred to as Small Unmanned Aerial Systems (sUAS) may be utilized to enhance the department's mission of protecting lives and property when other means and resources are not available or are less effective. All drone operations will be in accordance with; Constitutional and privacy rights, Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulations, and Oregon Revised Statues listed in section 908.3 and 908.5.

609.3 Privacy

  • The use of the Drones / UAS potentially involves privacy considerations.

    • Drone operations will be conducted in accordance with all laws and regulations, including Federal, State and Local.

    • PIC's shall take reasonable precautions to avoid inadvertently recording or transmitting images of areas where there is a reasonable expectation of privacy. Reasonable precautions can include, for example, deactivating or turning imaging devices away from such areas or persons during drone operations.

    • Use of facial recognition technology during drone operations is prohibited.

609.4 Investigation Division Responsibilities 609.4

  • The Chief of Police will appoint a program coordinator who will be responsible for the management of the sUAS program. The program coordinator will ensure that policies and procedures conform to current laws, regulations, and best practices and will have the following additional responsibilities:
    • Coordinating the FAA Certificate of Waiver or Authorization (COA) application process and ensuring that the COA is current (OAR 738-080-0045.
    • Ensuring that all authorized operators and required observers have completed all required FAA and department-approved training in the operation, applicable laws, policies, and procedures regarding use of the UAS.
    • Developing uniform protocols for submission and evaluation of requests to deploy a UAS, including urgent requests made during ongoing or emerging incidents. Deployment of a UAS shall require written authorization of an authorized designee, depending on the type of mission.
    • Developing protocols for conducting criminal investigations involving a UAS, including documentation of time spent monitoring a subject.
    • Implementing a system for public notification of UAS deployment.
    • Developing operational protocols governing the deployment and operation of a UAS including but not limited to safety oversight, use of visual observers, establishment of lost link procedures, and secure communication with air traffic control facilities.
    • Developing a protocol for fully documenting all missions.
    • Developing a sUAS inspection, maintenance, and record-keeping protocol to ensure continuing airworthiness of a UAS, up to and including its overhaul or life limits.
    • Developing protocols to ensure that all data intended to be used as evidence is accessed, maintained, stored, and retrieved in a manner that ensures its integrity as evidence, including strict adherence to chain of custody requirements. Electronic trails, including encryption, authenticity certificates, and date and time stamping, shall be used as appropriate to preserve individual rights and to ensure the authenticity and maintenance of a secure evidentiary chain of custody.
    • Developing protocols that ensure retention and purge periods are maintained in accordance with established records retention schedules.
    • Facilitating law enforcement access to images and data captured by the UAS.
    • Recommending program enhancements, particularly regarding safety and information security.
    • Ensuring that established protocols are followed by monitoring and providing periodic reports on the program to the Chief of Police.
    • Ensuring that the UAS is registered with the Oregon Department of Aviation (ORS 837.360).
    • Developing protocols for storage, security, and access to data collected by the UAS (ORS 837.362).
    • Developing protocols if a third party is used for the storage of data, including handling, security, and access to the data by the third party (ORS 837.362).
    • Developing protocols for disclosing data collected by the UAS through intergovernmental agreements (ORS 837.362).
    • Publishing the department policies and procedures regarding the use, storage (including third party storage), accessing, sharing, and retention of data collected by the UAS, including the text of ORS 192.345 on the department website or other publicly accessible system (ORS 837.362).

609.5 Requirement for Use

  • Only authorized operators who have completed the required training (including FAA Part 107 Remote Pilot Certification) shall be permitted to operate department drones. Non-certified team members may operate drones for training purposes under the supervision of a certified team member.
  • The drones shall only be operated in accordance with Part 107 regulations.
  • Use of vision enhancement technology (e.g., thermal and other imaging equipment not generally available to the public) is permissible in viewing areas only where there is no protected privacy interest or when in compliance with a search warrant, exigent circumstances or court order. In all other instances, legal counsel should be consulted.
  • Drones shall be flown in accordance with the following Oregon Revised Statutes:
    • ORS 837.300 - Definitions
    • ORS 837.310 - Restrictions
    • ORS 837.320 - Authorized Use Upon Issuance of Warrant
    • ORS 837.330 - Written Consent
    • ORS 837.335 - Search and Rescue
    • ORS 837.340 - Criminal Investigations
    • ORS 837.345 - Training
    • ORS 837.360 - Restrictions
    • ORS 837.365 - Weaponized Unmanned Aircraft Systems (Prohibited)

609.5.1 Drones Shall Only Be Operated by Forest Grove Police Department:

  • Pursuant to a valid warrant authorizing its use (ORS 837.320).
  • When there is probable cause to believe that a person has committed a crime, is committing a crime or about to commit a crime, and exigent circumstances exist that make it unreasonable to obtain a warrant authorizing the use (ORS 837.320).
  • With recorded consent of an individual for the purpose of acquiring information about the individual or the individual's property (ORS 837.330).
  • As part of a search and rescue activity (ORS 837.335, 404.200).
  • When assisting an individual in an emergency if there is a reasonable belief that there is an imminent threat to the life and safety of the individual (ORS 837.335)
    • 1. A report shall be prepared documenting the factual basis for the belief.
    • 2. Within 48 hours of the emergency, a sworn statement shall be filed with the circuit court describing the nature of the emergency and the need for the use of the sUAS.
  • During a state of emergency declared by the Governor, if:
    • 1. The drone is used for preserving public safety, protecting property or conducting surveillance that will be used to assess and evaluate environmental or weather related damage, erosion or contamination.
    • 2. The drone is operated only in the geographical area specified in the Governor's proclamation.
  • For the purpose of reconstructing a crime scene, or a similar physical assessment, that is related to a specific criminal investigation, as provided by ORS 837.340. Under this statute, the operations may not exceed 5 days.
  • For the purpose of training in the use and acquisition of information, as provided in ORS 837.345.

609.6 Prohibited Use

  • The drone / UAS video surveillance equipment shall not be used:
    • To conduct random surveillance activities.
    • To target a person based solely on actual or perceived characteristics such as race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, economic status, age, cultural group, housing status or disability.
    • To harass, intimidate, or discriminate against any individual or group.
    • To conduct personal business of any type.
    • Drones shall not be weaponized (ORS 837.365)
  • The UAS shall not be used in any way that causes interference with an aircraft that is in the air, taking off, or landing (ORS 837.374).

609.7 Retention & Release of UAS Data

  • All evidentiary data will be maintained in accordance with established Forest Grove Police Department evidence handling and retention standards. (See Property and Evidence policy)

609.7.1 Data Recording

  • Video recordings and photos will only be taken during missions where there is a reasonable expectation that the data will contain evidentiary value, or in situations where it may provide transparency of police department operations. Officers shall not edit, alter, erase, duplicate, copy, share, or otherwise distribute in any manner digital content captured by drone operations without prior written authorization from the Chief of Police or designee.

609.8 Reporting

  • The program coordinator shall ensure that an annual report is provided to the Oregon Department of Aviation that summarizes the frequency of UAS use and the purpose for the use, and indicates how the public can access the department's policies and procedures regarding the use of data resulting from the use of UAS as required by ORS 837.360.

609.9 Equipment

  • In order to maintain transparency, all drones will be clearly marked to maximize visibility with:
    • A. Forest Grove Police Department name and logo.
    • B. Red and green anti-collision lights. Red and green lights should be used in addition to FAA required lighting, depending on the circumstances. Lights may not be used in rare circumstances where covert operations are necessary to preserve the integrity of an investigation or when required for officer safety related concerns.

609.10 Operations

  • The Forest Grove Police Drone Team shall adopt and utilize a Forest Grove Police Department Unmanned Aerial System Operations Manual.
    • A. Each mission will be documented with a flight log.

609.11 Safety

  • Safety of drone operations is of utmost concern. The safety of all operations should be considered during every flight. Part 107 requirements must be followed at all times, as well as safety requirements as outlined in the Forest Grove Police Department Unmanned Aerial System Operations Manual.

609.12 Remote Pilot Certification

  • All members of the Forest Grove Police Department Drone team shall obtain and maintain, a Part 107 Remote Pilot Certificate through the FAA. Each member will be required to obtain certification within two months of being selected for the team.

609.13 Forest Grove Police Department Team Configuration

  • Due to the vast array of operational uses, and to avoid overwhelming one work unit with requests from many other units, the drone team may consist of a variety of individuals with specialized skills.

609.13.1 Interagency Assistance

  • The drone unit leader may deploy the team to assist with any public safety agency in Oregon. The requesting agency may consult with the team leader, Captain directly or via dispatch. A formal request for interagency support can be made during this consultation, which must be documented by email or other writing. The team leader or Captain must obtain approval by the Chief of Police prior to deploying outside of Washington County. These requests should adhere to the guidelines set forth in ORS chapter 402; Emergency Mutual Assistance Agreements.

609.14 Law Enforcement sUAS Requests

  • Forest Grove Police Department officers may request sUAS assistance via any on duty supervisor.
  • Request of future or non-immediate nature should be brought directly to the attention of the Forest Grove Police Department Remotely Operated Vehicle Team leader to allow for formulation of incident action plans. The following information is required for activation:
    • A. Venue or jurisdiction
    • B. Description of the incident / event
    • C. Location
    • D. Whether there is a planned gathering place or route to be used
    • E. Level of media involvement
    • F. Locations of command post and point of contact with OIC on scene
    • G. Mission request
    • H. Ensure compliance with applicable search and seizure laws