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Small Unmanned Aerial Systems

DSC01303.jpgThe Drone Program of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department has a steadfast mission to provide invaluable aerial support to law enforcement operations in the bustling city of Las Vegas. With a commitment to utmost safety, responsibility, and transparency, the program aims to uphold peace while reducing response times effectively. By harnessing advanced drone technology, the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department aims to enhance its capabilities and improve the overall quality of life for residents and visitors, fostering a sense of security and tranquility within the community. The program demonstrates unwavering dedication to professionalism and public service, continuously adapting and evolving to utilize aerial assets to their full potential, contributing to seamless and efficient law enforcement activities throughout the vibrant city of Las Vegas.

Small, remotely operated Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS), commonly known as drones, offer a highly efficient and impactful means of equipping law enforcement with crucial information for prompt response to service calls, emergency scenarios, and comprehensive criminal investigations. The versatile applications of these UAS include providing a bird's-eye view of specific areas or incidents to aid ground personnel, ensuring safe and thorough inspection of building interiors, capturing meticulous documentation of crime scenes and accident sites, and facilitating the search for lost or missing individuals. By leveraging the capabilities of advanced UAS technologies, law enforcement agencies can significantly enhance their operational effectiveness, augment situational awareness, and ultimately contribute to maintaining public safety and security.

On October 1st, 2017, the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department faced one of the most tragic incidents in its history—an active shooter mercilessly targeting concertgoers. In the aftermath of this horrific event, the department employed drones for the first time to meticulously map and document the extensive crime scene. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) sought the department's assistance in capturing vital information using drone technology.

This experience underscored the indispensable role that such advanced technology could play in law enforcement. Recognizing this need, the department took the initiative to establish and develop the Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) program. Operating a growing fleet of drones with various capabilities, the program effectively supports not only the department but also collaborates with external jurisdictions.

Furthermore, the department's commitment to promoting public safety extends beyond its immediate responsibilities. Actively collaborating with local Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspectors, the department offers expertise in documenting critical scenes and investigating aviation accidents. By leveraging the capabilities of the UAS program, the department contributes to the thorough and accurate examination of such incidents, ensuring the highest standards of investigation and accountability.

In summary, the journey from the tragic events of October 1st, 2017, led the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department to recognize the immense potential of drones in law enforcement. Through the dedicated efforts of the UAS program, the department has established itself as a reliable and invaluable asset, supporting its own department, external jurisdictions, and even the FAA in their collective strive to safeguard public welfare and maintain the utmost professionalism in their endeavors.


Unmanned Aerial Systems

Skyfront Perimeter 8:

The Perimeter 8 UAV features an impressive 22 lb. payload capacity with 1 hour of endurance and a no-payload endurance of over 6 hours. 

Skydio X2:

The Skydio X2 is a ruggedized, portable airframe that is ready for any mission. Has the best object avoidance in the industry, with six 4k cameras surrounding the UAS.

Brinc Lemur S:

A new kind of robot. A ruggedized and durable composition combined with an easy-to-use payload bay allows the LEMUR to fly indoors, break glass, scale stairs, conduct two-way communications with a suspect, and flip over after crashes

The Skyranger R70:

It is a cutting-edge unmanned aircraft system (UAS) designed specifically for public safety applications. This drone is equipped with advanced features and technology and provides a reliable and efficient tool for law enforcement. With its long flight (1 hour) endurance, high-resolution cameras, and real-time video streaming capabilities, the Skyranger R70 enhances situational awareness and aids in critical decision-making during public safety operations.

Drone Flight History Maps: 

To ensure transparency to the public, the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department (LVMPD) uses drone software to track all drone flights conducted by the department. It's important to note that the drone flight database and the drone dashboard database operate independently, although they are not fully automated. Both systems require data entry to some extent. Every effort is made to provide timely updates and accurate reports regarding all drone flight data. While the provided data is regularly checked for accuracy, there may be instances where it differs from the actual flight data.

In adherence to privacy standards, LVMPD strictly follows policies that prohibit drone operators from intentionally capturing or transmitting images of any location where individuals would reasonably expect privacy, unless authorized by a warrant issued by a judge or in emergency situations.

As part of an ongoing initiative, LVMPD has partnered with a third-party service to provide comprehensive information about flights conducted by LVMPD drones. Please note that flights that are covert or part of ongoing investigations will not be displayed for security reasons. For access to recent flight data, please click here.

Frequently Asked Questions:

What is a drone or UAS?

UAS is an Unmanned Aerial System and is commonly called a drone. A drone is an aerial device with an onboard computer that is operated remotely – generally by a pilot on the ground – using a handheld controller. Small drones are battery operated, weigh less than 55 pounds, have several rotors like a helicopter, and are equipped with a video camera.

Where is the video and photos taken by the UAS stored?

All video and photo evidence taken is stored in the same manner and location as Body Worn Camera (BWC) video and other investigative evidence. LVMPD utilizes to store all digital evidence. The service is authorized and certified under both state and federal regulations for the security and protection of confidential information and is available only for official law enforcement purposes. Evidence is stored and saved for a limited time (one year or less), unless it is categorized as evidence in an actual crime or formal investigation. Then it is stored for a period of time consistent with all other evidence related to that incident/investigation.

Who has access to the video and photos?

Video and photos collected by UAS are stored for the purposes of conducting police investigation and subsequent prosecutions. Accordingly, videos and photos are generally accessible to police investigators for official use only. Like all police records, video and photos may also be subject to additional release under the same rules and restrictions as BWC video and other items of evidence. Generally, UAS photos and video are considered part of the investigative record and are not available to the public.

How is my privacy protected?

As such, drones are used during an active response to an emergency or other call for police assistance. Our policy prohibits drone operators from intentionally recording or transmitting images of any location where a person would have a reasonable expectation of privacy, such as inside private buildings, except where authorized by a warrant issued by a judge or in emergency situations.

Can foreign countries gain access to drone data or information through a drone’s built-in software?

No. Our drone data does not utilize the onboard software from the drone manufacturer. From the outset of our program, we have used an encrypted, US-based software program to bypass the drone manufacturer’s systems. Our data is encrypted and is stored on US-based servers that meet federal requirements for confidential law enforcement databases.

What training do UAS pilots undergo?

In addition to the training and study required to maintain a FAA Part 107 Remote Pilot License, all LVMPD UAS Team members train regularly in a variety of locations and settings to ensure operational efficiency. All training is documented, and the records are maintained by LVMPD and are subject to review by the FAA.

What rules and regulations must LVMPD UAS pilots follow?

All LVMPD UAS pilots are subject to FAA regulations related to airspace use, and all must have a valid “Part 107” Remote Pilot License.

Why does LVMPD use UAS rather than helicopters?

Helicopters and other manned aircraft (air support) are very expensive to operate. Currently, LVMPD operates a fleet of helicopters with varying levels of capabilities and passenger capacity. UAS can be used in a variety of ways that supplement mutual aid air support requests in a cost-effective and efficient manner.