Use of Drones by Public Safety Agencies: An Introduction

 Use of Drones by Public Safety Agencies: An Introduction, an eLearning course, explores the emerging use of drone technology to maximize resources and enhance public safety. The design of the course focuses on public safety agencies interested in or having started a drone program. The content provides an overview of current drone use in agencies, pre-implementation strategies for consideration, foundations for agency-level programs, and the future outlook of drone technology.

NCPI also provides a companion resource: Implementing a Public Safety Drone Program: Instructor-led Training Support Package.


Title slide for the course with white line drawing of a drone overtop a neighborhood street.

Arizona POST Approved Course
AZPOST Approval 22-345
AZPOST does not require the standard approval form for this course; however, if you would like one, please contact AZPOST directly at [email protected].

Course Overview

Over the past decades, public safety agencies have leveraged new technologies to more efficiently and effectively achieve their goals. Using tools such as geographic information systems, data analysis products, wireless communication devices, and many others, public safety personnel have expanded their ability to identify and respond to critical issues in their communities.

Recently, an increasing number of agencies have examined the use of drones as a promising new practice. As with any novel technology, organizations using drones will discover new avenues for solving problems, but they may also face unexpected challenges. This eLearning course, based on the Police Executive Research Forums (PERF) publication A Report on the Use of Drones by Public Safety Agencies – and a Wake-Up Call about the Threat of Malicious Drone Attacks, helps public safety agencies establish successful drone programs.

This course provides insight for public safety practitioners on how drones may be used in their line of work, benefits and challenges an agency should consider before implementing a drone program, and guidance on starting a drone program.

Target Audience

Public safety agencies interested in implementing a drone program, police agencies, sheriff’s departments, fire and rescue services, and other public safety stakeholders.

Cooperative Partners

This tuition-free online training was developed by the National Center for Policing Innovation (NCPI), formerly known as the Virginia Center for Policing Innovation, and was supported by cooperative agreement 2019-CK-WXK-003 by the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS).

Learning Objectives

  • Distinguish between Unmanned Aircraft Systems, Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, and Drones
  • Explain how drones are used by public safety agencies
  • Identify the difference between a FAA Remote Pilot Certificate and a FAA Part 91 Certificate of Authorization (COA) operation
  • Recognize the role community trust plays in the implementation of an effective drone program
  • Match their agency’s needs to the type of equipment necessary
  • Identify funding sources available to assist with supporting the cost of a drone program
  • Identify staffing requirements for the size and scope of their drone program
  • Identify initial and continued training requirements as needed for certification and technical use purposes
  • Identify requirements for developing standard operating procedures to codify the policies and practices for their drone program
  • Recognize the evolving nature of drone technology and regulations associated with that technology

National Center for Policing Innovation

The National Center for Policing Innovation (NCPI), formerly known as the Virginia Center for Policing Innovation, is a nonprofit organization that provides innovative community policing training, technical assistance, and program management services to law enforcement organizations and the communities they serve throughout the United States.