Technology in public safety is constantly changing and evolving. One of the emerging technologies is that of small Unmanned Aerial Systems (sUAS). North Dakota has been a leader in sUAS technology for quite some time, and now the Dickinson Police Department has entered the arena by starting a Remote Pilot Unit of our own.
The unit is comprised of FAA Part 107 Certified pilots, and train on a monthly basis. Uses for the sUAS are vast, and include accident/crime scene reconstruction, HAZMAT reconissance, structure fire assist, pre-raid SWAT planning, missing person search, and much more. Not only are our pilots trained to fly these types of missions under the umbrella of FAA regulation, they are also extensivley trained on case law and statutes governing drone use and civil liberties. In general, sUAS use to surveil any person is strictly controlled by state law, and a search warrant is often required.
The Remote Pilot Unit acquired our first sUAS in 2019 with the help of a grant from the BNSF Railway Grant. It is a Mavic 2 Enterprise, capable of withstanding extreme North Dakota weather. In addition, the Mavic has a thermal camera capable of detecting heat signatures. This feature is particularly useful during structure fires to find hot spots, or for finding a missing person.