Implementation of Drone Technology with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department
Implementation of Drone Technology with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department
Currently the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department does not have or utilize drone technology in regards to law enforcement practices.
Prepare an action plan for implementation of drone policy and program for the LA County Sheriffs Department.
Develop the need of this policy for the department and highlight the goals of preventing crime, decreasing crime, safety (both public and officer) , various applications, cost savings, and other creative uses, such as efficiency in the criminal justice system.
Explain why the policy is needed with the LA County Sheriff Department (population, city size, terrain, rural areas, personnel, budgetary, etc. ) What are the potential challenges and benefits of the policy for the Department based on criminology theory. Pros/Cons. FCC regulations, airport airspace restrictions, current laws, rules and regulations, etc.
50% resources need to be empirical research published in peer reviewed articles.
Present one criminology or criminal justice theory that will be used to justify the potential success of the policy/strategy, and why this theory is adequate in explaining the potential effectiveness of program.
What are the expected advantages to the agency (and society) of the policy/strategy
What are the expected disadvantages to the agency (and society) of the policy/strategy
provide a summary discussion outlining the major arguments for the implementation of the policy/strategy.
Law Enforcement Agencies are increasingly incorporating the use of drone technologies into their operations. Many of those with drone programs citing that the technologies are providing benefits in the long run, especially in improving public safety matters. The United States military has been using drones for its contingency activities since 2000. The American Civil Liberties Union in 2013 published a written statement to the Senate’s Judiciary Committee on the future of drones in American Law Enforcement and Privacy Considerations; the statement indicated that the drone technologies were advancing drastically in power and affordability.
This research paper discusses implementing the drone policy strategy within the Los Angeles (LA) County Sheriff’s Department (LASD). The discussion will outline why the LASD needs to consider it, the action plan for its implementation, the benefits and challenges the department will face in its implementation. It is prudent that the department slowly implements the strategy to ensure that they bring in the right equipment and have the staff trained accordingly. This ensures that all operations are done accordingly to meet the agency’s goals and objectives.
The policing profession has increasingly initiated (Unmanned Aerial Systems) drones since 2016 as the devices have become readily available. The law enforcement agencies that have implemented the use of UAS drones in their activities have indicated enjoying very many benefits considering the extensive uses they provide (Brumfield, 2014) These include in search and rescue missions, responding to disasters, monitoring crowds, reconstruction of traffic collisions and crime scenes, undertaking investigations among others (Margaritoff, 2020)
Nonetheless, various community members have raised legitimate concerns on using UAS drones by any party, including police officers, due to the issue of invading privacy as the drones fly everywhere recording videos (Brumfield, 2014). Therefore, for the police agencies looking to improvise, the technologies are required to ensure public safety advancement through a methodological approach that will encompass explaining to the community its importance in handling the latter’s expressed concerns (McNeal, 2014). The technologies can only maximize benefit if the agencies can work with respective communities to attain the respective compromises or consensus strategies to distinct relevant issues.
LOS ANGELES (LA) COUNTY SHERIFF’S DEPARTMENT (LASD)
The LASD that is formally known as the County of Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department, is the largest sheriff department in the United States with an estimated 18000 employees. Its primary obligations entail providing patrol services for 153 unincorporated communities within Los Angeles County, California, and 42 cities (Los Angeles County Sheriff Department, 2020). It also provides courthouse security to the Superior Court of Los Angeles County and housing and transit of inmates within the county’s correctional facilities. Furthermore, the LASD contracts the county’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority and Metrolink to provide the respective law enforcement services to ten community colleges and conduct patrols in over 177 recreation centers and over 300 county facilities. The department also provides other services such as crime laboratories, investigations on homicides, and academic training to the smaller law enforcement agencies within Los Angeles County (Los Angeles County Sheriff Department, 2020). Considering how extensive their LASD’s operations are, which continue to grow continually, it is only prudent that the organization invests into drone technologies to streamline the provision of their diverse law enforcement services. The organization seeks to ensure that it improvises the technologies into their operations and ensure they are getting maximal benefits with maximal approval from their respective communities.
Therefore, this research paper will outline the agency’s action plan in implementing the drone policy strategy. Before this, a criminal justice theory will be discussed to justify the potential success of the policy strategy to be implemented. The paper will also discuss the expected advantages and disadvantages of the policy strategy. Additionally, the paper will discuss why LASD does require the drone policy in its operations in line with its objective. The discussion of potential challenges and benefits will also ensue before determining the department’s position after implementing its action plan accordingly.
The Need for the Drone Policy Within Los Angeles (LA) County Sheriff’s Department (LASD)
With the drastic influx of new technologies, the policing operations for LASD look distinct from what was happening in 2010. The new technologies, such as facial recognition and a broad range of computer applications that are facilitated through fast speed broadband wireless systems integrated with extensively advanced policing capabilities (West et al., 2019). Notably, some criminal offenders have utilized technologies to create different types of crimes, such as cybersecurity attacks, or use the technology to seek new ways of committing old crimes such as car and bank thefts.
Considering that the sheriff’s department time and financial resources are limited, it is vital to comprehend the capabilities and limitations of the different new technologies, also comprising laws, regulations, and the applicable policies to their utilization together with the advantages and costs (West et al., 2019). In this way, LASD can make the best decisions on the right technologies to be deployed, considering that other law enforcement agencies have utilized the drones and indicated that they have benefited from utilizing their devices.
The United States military has been using drones for its contingency activities since 2000. The American Civil Liberties Union in 2013 published a written statement to the Senate’s Judiciary Committee on the future of drones in American Law Enforcement and Privacy Considerations; the statement indicated that the drone technologies were advancing drastically in power and affordability. The statement also cited that the police department; debts are also increasingly using drones. Therefore, rather than prevent their use, the statement indicated that it would be better to have the current regulations strengthened to ensure that the technologies are responsibly utilized and within the constitution’s values. The statement’s other recommendations included a restriction on usage, image retention, public notices, democratic controls, weaponization, and tracking their effectiveness. The Chula Vista Police Department that p[rotects a community of an estimated quarter-million members, would test the drone technologies’ viability and effectiveness for the in-progress calls. Their outcome was that the technologies would be part of police deployed technologies in the near future, considering how effective the law enforcement officers become.
To this effect, LASD needs to consider the technologies to be effective in providing law enforcement officers. With the right training and implementation of proper restrictions, the law officers within the department will be in a position to incorporate the devices into their operations and ensure they gain maximal value. The organization chose to ignore the technologies that will be lagging the organization behind from taking modern technologies that could make sure the provision of services better.
CRIMINOLOGICAL THEORIES IN SUPPORT OF USE OF TECHNOLOGY IN LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCIES.
The Situational Crime Prevention (SCP) is a criminological perspective that encompasses answering the practical question of how the offenders will successfully carry out their crimes (Freilich et al., 2019). Understanding how the offenders commit the crimes should help in crafting interventions that will eradicate the crime opportunities and prevent committing offenses. Since the SCP approach is similar to “operations research,” where a researcher collaborates with respective individuals in the particular job affected, the SCP focus on reducing crime will bring in partnerships with academics, law enforcement officers, and practitioners to ensure that the former’s tenets are guidelines in practice. The criminological perspective is also affiliated with problem-oriented policing, whose function focuses on particular challenges in devising proactive strategies to eliminate the challenges (Freilich et al., 2019). All the efforts are related to challenges and their identification then having information collected. Later, the respective solutions are adopted, then information is collected in determining whether the solutions are successful.
One of the SCP perspective concepts is the opportunity structure, which encompasses the analysis of the situation or situations in which crime will happen. Typically, this analysis will always find those general settings disintegrated into smaller components (Wilcox & Cullen, 2018). The process depends on the facilities and the information accessible. Similarly, information has to be collected from the participants in which the crime will occur, such as the offenders, victims, and police officers. The collected information is primarily how the crime was carried out, the resources utilized in facilitating its commission, the present challenges, and how they are avoided or overcome by the offender, among other relevant information. The focus will then lead to creating the opportunity structure of the crime and thus pointing out the course of action that could be taken by the course of action and thus thwarting it. Also, the conceptual approach adopted is on how it happens and not why it happens. However, the answers to the little whys may also be found along the process, such as why a thief chose a particular house to enter. Notably, the big sociological why on the causes of the crime is not addressed. Conclusively, the opportunity structure will focus on a particular crime, and the script method applies to uncover the possible preventative interventions (Wilcox & Cullen, 2018). This brings forth several techniques that researchers and policymakers utilize in developing strategies of crime reduction.
Therefore, technology and the use of drone technologies by law enforcement officers are one of the strategies developed from the opportunity structure concept in the SCP perspective. The drone technologies focus on respective surveying regions as the police ice officers analyze what is happening, especially in the crime-prone areas (Margaritoff, 2020). Notably, the agency needs to work together with the community so that they could provide information on the crime-prone areas and the public safety levels they want to be achieved. These interactions and collaborations are achieved through the collective efficacy perspective in the region. According to the collective efficacy theory, Collective efficacy is considered a neighborhood’s attributes, mainly the combination of norms, networks, and trust between the residents and the agencies endowed with control and suppressing anti-social and criminal behavior (Uchida et al., 2013). Different communities will have different levels of consensus, and an agency must understand their respective community (Uchida et al., 2013). In this way, the agencies will develop community responses to crime and any behaviors related to violating norms. Notably, with the right educational awareness for the community members, it becomes easier for a community to respond to implement measures that are focused on improving their public safety levels positively.
ACTION PLAN FOR IMPLEMENTING DRONE POLICY STRATEGY IN LOS ANGELES (LA) COUNTY SHERIFF’S DEPARTMENT (LASD)
LASD’s operations’ primary objective is to ensure that the citizens within Los Angeles County are receiving the most community-focused, efficient, and effective law enforcement services (Los Angeles County Sheriff Department, 2020). In this way, the department has several objectives to aid it to achieve this goal which includes: having a leadership characterized in innovativeness, honesty, and responsiveness, provision of realistic departmental guidelines and policies, recruitment of the best law enforcement officers who receive regular quality training in each entry-level, promotion of proper police conduct that is responsive and sensitive to its community needs, aggressive crime-fighting strategies to improve the use of patrol and investigative resources, and generally developing a professional work ethic and professional work products from the officers as they engage in their routine activities together with their preliminary and follow-up investigations (Los Angeles County Sheriff Department, 2020). Therefore, these goals and objectives will guide in implementing the drone policy strategy in the department. The department wants to ensure the strategies are actually in line with what the department wants to achieve.
Considerations Prior to Implementing the Drone Program
Federal, State or Local Laws and Regulations
The first consideration is related to the federal, state, or local laws and regulations related to the drone policy (Police Executive Research Forum, 2020). The department has to research all the relevant laws and regulations to ensure that the strategy will function legally without any lawful problems. Currently, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has set up various regulations concerning drones’ use within the United States (The Stimson Center, 2020). The law agency will work with its legal consultants to advise the Leadership and the officers on the present laws and regulations that need to be adhered to. Notably, the FAA does provide two regulatory options for agencies seeking to implement the drone program. The first option is to have individual operators get a Part 107 license or the agency getting a Part 91 Certificate of Authorization, allowing them to self-authorize its operators. LASD would be better off getting the Part 91 COA as it will allow them to self-certify the drones and their operators, and they perform their respective functions. The law enforcement agency will establish its standards to determine whether one is qualified enough to be an operator. Notably, getting the COQA takes more time as the FAA has to process the request. The LASD could first consider having its drone operators get the Part 107 license before having the Part 91 COA.
Community Outreach Programs
The second consideration is conducting a community outreach strategy on drone technology since fostering strong relationships with them is a fundamental element of their policing. This strategy will entail conducting genuine efforts to solicit the respective community’s views on the new policy, explaining the planned approaches and reasons for using the drones, provision of detailed assurances of accountability, privacy, and any other matters of concerns, and ensuring that all their questions get answers and their concerns are addressed (The Stimson Center, n.d.). A successful drone program requires public support since the latter needs to provide public trust. The community will need to understand the life-saving capabilities and benefits of implementing the drone police (The Stimson Center, n.d.).
For instance, the agency could cite the Virginia Police Department, whose drone program has assisted in the city’s disaster preparedness efforts. The community in Virginia is taught on the equipment that would be used and how it would be used; thus, many people’s minds were changed into supporting them (Unmanned Systems Industry In Virginia, n.d.). Another example would be Fairfax County that handled the concerns of privacy and other issues through having an information page online that outlines the types of missions to be carried out and those not allowed (“Provide Your Feedback on Public Safety Drones in Fairfax County, 2019) This information would ensure that the community members are also on the lookout to ensure the drones are used for those particular purposes and call out the police department in case they are utilized for other purposes. The outreach methods will be respective online platforms, public forums, community stakeholders’ involvement, working with both mass media platforms and social media to reach out to the respective community. These interactions will ensure the agency will demonstrate the use of the equipment and address all concerns present.
Selection of the Drone Equipment
The present market has various drone equipment with an array of sizes and capabilities and with prices ranging from $800 to $85000 depending on the drone’s complexity (Police Executive Research Forum, 2020). In this case, the agency would have to face an overwhelming process when selecting the right equipment for itself. Nonetheless, the LASD will first have a small pilot program to evaluate whether the drone strategy will be worth its time, effort, and money. In this case, factors to be considered include the equipment’s cost, training, delivery of services and capabilities, reduced expenses when having a drone rather than a helicopter, mission capabilities, and investment return. The LASD will set up its operational parameters and specifications for the drone program to determine how the equipment is purchased; the equipment is to be bought in small batches for then to be tested. The evaluation process will have a set time such that by its end, the organization will have determined its position on implementing the program. Notably, the agency’s funding resources will determine the decisions the agency buys on the quality and quantity of equipment it purchases.
The LASD understands that while the drone policy offers many benefits, its full implementation costs can also be overwhelming. Therefore, the funding considerations include the initial cost of drone equipment, funds for staffing resources such as their training, program administration, data management systems, and storage needs (Police Executive Research Forum, 2020). While the costs can be very expensive at first, many agencies have found them to be cost-effective in the long-run. Limited and effective utilization of drones will aid in visibility, situational awareness, and deputy safety for the priority one calls. The drones are also versatile and effective compared to helicopters; thus, the agency will be saving a lot of money compared to using the piloted agency helicopters.
Establishing the Drone Program
After the equipment purchase, the agency will staff the drone team, which will have a leader and respective members with knowledge of operating drones. These members’ roles are developed depending on the agency’s requirements and meet all relevant regulations and laws. The training programs for these members will be distinct from drone pilots getting training in different units to ensure that they have the right knowledge to respond to any incident type. The various topics to be handled include methods to conduct flight operations safely depending on the exigent circumstances, resource management and risk assessments, choosing the proper equipment for the missions and fleet management, an operational guideline for the pilots and technicians in the agency, understanding the FAA’s function in public safety regulatory compliance, evidence rules relating to drone operation agency requirements among other issues (Police Executive Research Forum, 2020). The organization is to set the continuous training requirements to remain proficient in the operations and updated with the FAA rules.
The agency will also determine the number of police to be certified, depending on the agency’s jurisdiction and types of incidents to be handled by the drone. The organization will also use both sworn and non-sworn personnel to have costs minimized, and expertise maximized. Standard operating procedures are to be established, which will be an outline of elements that are aligned with the particular program objectives and local regulations.
Evaluation of the Drone Program
To ensure that the program is aligned with the agency’s goals and objectives, the program will undergo regular evaluations to determine whether the officers are using the drones accordingly. The evaluation will consider their utilization in various incidents and whether they are impactful. The community members will also have their views taken on the use of the drone programs to ensure that they also agree with everything being used for their purpose. Evaluation results are to guide the agency’s Leadership and officers to determine where changes are to be implemented to foster further improvements.
BENEFITS OF USING DRONES IN THE LASD
As far as the use of Drones, also known as the unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), is concerned, benefits and challenges are inevitable at all times. Many of the public safety stakeholders and the Law Enforcement agencies like Sheriffs and the Police departments have benefitted according to While there are many benefits of drones in the Law Enforcement agencies, challenges do exist when it comes to its implementation as new technology. LASD is not left out when it comes to the benefits and challenges of Drones. Firstly, through drones, the LASD has become the first responders they are needed to be when it comes to addressing the issues policing. As a valuable tool, drones have made it possible to save both law enforcement officers’ lives in the county and the public. The Drones have changed how the law enforcement officers in both the police and the sheriff department (National Institute of Justice, 2016). Through rapid response and communication in the law enforcement agency, the loss of lives, and law enforcement officers.
Another important benefit that LASD reaps from the UAS is that the drones have made them save money and time. As the world continues to experience technological development, the manufacturing of highly advanced and affordable drones is inevitable and thus making it an important advantage to the law and enforcement community. The drone manufacturing companies like AirMap, DroneBase, SlantRange, and General Atomics are competing to manufacture outstanding Drones at affordable prices. Competition among these companies has made it possible for the Law Enforcement Departments to acquire as many UAS as possible. As compared to the use of man-resources, the drones are cheaper to not only acquire but also store and operate accordingly as compared to the deployment of helicopters.
Additionally, the use of drones has made it possible for the LASD and the LAPD to be able to monitor some of the destructive activities like robbery, drug trafficking, and also violence in the area at the comfort of their offices and thus making it an important element when it comes to policing. Through UAS, it has been possible to monitor crowded events such as the large gatherings, which have been causing a great challenge to the Law Enforcement officers. The congested events such as contests normally pose a very big threat to the policing as Police officers are unable to scan the suspicious activities and criminal activities. This is mainly because of the high density of the gathering. For instance, a sheriff officer patrolling an area is highly likely to overlook a problem if there is no proper visibility. Even though UAS is prohibited from flying over large gatherings, the FAA exempts the LASD on this issue as far as security issues are in question.
CHALLENGES FACED BY LASD IN USING UAS IN LAW ENFORCEMENT
Technology has made positive contributions to people’s harmonious existence but, at the same time, causing a ripple effect of negative impacts. This creates a dilemma in determining whether an investment in technology provides a zero-sum effect, thus making it irrelevant in the first place. This has been the case in the LA sheriff’s office after introducing unmanned aircraft systems in law enforcement. The department has experienced massive success in guaranteeing the people and the officers’ safety by eliminating the risk factors that would otherwise be undetected. However, the department has been faced with an uproar by the citizens regarding the use of drones in their locations. This paper explores the challenges that the LASD encounter by adopting the use of drones in their operations.
The United States constitution, as alluded in the Fourth Amendment, provides that people should be allowed to feel secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects against unwarranted searches and seizures. This implies that the LASD should not conduct searches on its residents without a warrant and before proof of probable cause for the intrusion. The use of drones provides a loophole on the law since it is an unregulated platform supposed to surpass the weaknesses encountered by using law enforcers. They are fitted with software that analyzes facial features, infrared technology, and speakers that can listen to private conversations which is an infringement of human rights (Stelman, 2015)
Besides, drone technology has been made available in the black markets, and therefore anyone who requires it can acquire it. This implies that this technology can be accessed by malicious individuals who could use it to further unlawful practices. Many terrorist attacks have been aided by the use of drones that conduct unwarranted surveillance on their targets. Having learned the patterns and the vulnerabilities of the target, the drones have also been used to launch attacks (Chait, 2010). This is because they are equipped to carry weapons, and given the unregulated nature of the drones industry, attacks are made easier, and the results are catastrophic.
The LASD also faces challenges where, instead of enhancing the trust levels with the public members, the use of drones has inflicted more fear. It is not uncommon that drones have accidentally been used to launch lawful attacks of the unintended and often persons in which the operators pass it as collateral damage (Craig, 2013). It could be caused by a glitch in technology, negligence by personnel operating the drones, or operators’ malice. This has lead to unrest and protests against the use of drone technology in LA.
Further, the use of drones faces opposition within the sheriff’s department since their use poses a threat to the officers’ job security in the field. Drones are efficient and reduce the risks that personnel have to undertake. Statistically, a drone can carry out an operation that would take up to ten bodies, including intelligence officers, their CIs, and troops on the ground. While this is cost-effective, it only implies that the Sheriff department will have no use for extra bodies leading to retrenchments (Kwon et al., 2017)
Regardless of the success yielded by the use of drones in search and rescue missions, bomb detection, hostage situations, and the detection of hazardous material spillages with little to no fatalities, it is also clear that the technology requires to be regulated to ensure that members of the public do not feel threatened (Kurt, 2015). Therefore, the LASD should conduct surveys into what the locals need and tailor the use of drones to their specifications to calm the unrest in the area. However, people should also be open to embracing new technologies, given how effective and efficient drone technology has been proven.
The drone policy strategy is a good and effective initiative for the LASD as it seeks to handle the modern-day policing challenges. Some law enforcement agencies have already implemented the strategy and indicated that they have been helpful in their missions and improving public safety as long as the community supports their use. The organization needs to keenly and slowly implement the strategy to ensure that it gets it right as per their goals and objectives.
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