Washington County Sheriff's Office in line with drone recommendations

Published: Feb. 1, 2018 at 9:51 PM EST
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In January, the Ohio Attorney General's Advisory Group on Unmanned Aircraft Systems issued 14 recommendations on how law enforcement agencies in Ohio use drones. The Washington County Sheriff's Office says it's in line with those protocols.

The recommendations are:

1) Agencies should develop their own written policy by using the report’s model policy as a guide.

2) Anyone operating a UAS should have a remote pilot certificate under the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) Part 107.

3) Agencies should “review their needs and the applicability” of an FAA Certificate of Waiver or Authorization before they apply for one.

4) Drones should be inspected and tested before they are flown.

5) Agencies should determine a set of approved drone uses.

6) Agencies should get a search warrant before using their UAS in a location with “a reasonable expectation of privacy.”

7) Operators should take measures to ensure the drone is not capturing imagery of people who are not involved.

8) Drones should not be used for “unauthorized surveillance.”

9) Agencies should collaborate with legal counsel to develop guidelines for drone usage.

10) Agencies should have “effective management policies” for drone-collected data.

11) When working with third parties for drone operations, agencies should “retain ownership and control” over data.

12) Operators and support crew should go through drone skills training for no less than one month.

13) Operators and support crew should attend annual drone training covering “updated industry standards, field exercises, review of regulations and maintenance requirements.”

14) Agencies should work with their “respective political subdivisions” on what will be needed to implement the drone program.

The Sheriff's Office started using drones in 2016. It uses them for search and rescue operations and crime evidence gathering. But with the extra help, comes a lot of upkeep.

Davis Powers, a special deputy, is the only officer who is able to operate a drone at the department.

He said, "There's a lot of regulations and those are very important to abide but safety's got to be there."

Sheriff Mincks looked at the list of recommendations and says his department follows all of them.

"We deal with air space and that fall under FAA, so there's a number of regulations that are just part of that, in which we have to abide by," Powers said.

"Then of course there's the law enforcement aspect when it comes to privacy and how we gather evidence. So there's numerous regulations on what we look for and how we abide our normal drone operations for that."

The department hopes to purchase drones with more capabilities such as operating at night and in various weather conditions.

The Marietta Police Department does not utilize drones. Chief Hupp says that could change in the future.