DoJ Official Discusses Public Safety Drone Usage

A top-ranking official at the Department of Justice (DoJ) discussed the development of drone aircraft, and their uses for public safety work at both Federal and local levels of government.

Speaking at the Forum on Police Use of Drones on Wednesday, Jesse Panuccio, deputy associate attorney general at DoJ, noted the growing use cases for drone technology among first responders.

“Less than a decade ago, drones were expensive and often hard to use.  Now, drones are cheap, widely available, and relatively easy to operate,” he noted.

He pointed to some of the benefits for law enforcement, such as crime scene photography, fugitive apprehension, and disaster response.

“On the other hand, drones present new threats and challenges,” he added. “Here in the homeland, criminals use drones to deliver narcotics across the southern border, drop contraband inside state and federal prisons, conduct illicit surveillance, and interfere with law enforcement operations. Drones also present a significant threat to the critical infrastructure community and large public gatherings.”

While Panuccio declined to endorse any set of regulations, he stressed the importance of acknowledging the rise of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) technology.

“American innovation abounds in the UAS field, with current or proposed uses spanning from geological exploration to donuts delivery. As policymakers and regulators, we can and must find ways to support the safe and productive use of UAS technology,” he said.

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