The Department of Justice and the Office of the Consent Decree Monitor have given their approval to NOPD policy regarding use of small unmanned aircraft systems (sUAS, or drones).
The approvals come after nearly a year of development, discussion and public input into crafting the policy. The process included review by multiple agencies, acceptance of public input through public comment period as well as a public hearing and demonstration of the technology in late 2023.
“We appreciate everyone involved in this process to help us craft an all-encompassing policy regarding NOPD’s use of drones,” NOPD Superintendent Anne Kirkpatrick said. “As we’ve stated previously, the NOPD fully respects the privacy rights of all residents and visitors to New Orleans and took this into consideration when crafting this policy. We feel this policy creates a thorough structure as to when this technology could be used, and having the confirmation of the Department of Justice and the Office of the Consent Decree Monitor only lends to solidify that belief.”
Per this policy, the sUAS technology will only be deployed in specific scenarios and will serve as a more efficient, cost-effective, and safer alternative to documenting scenes while capturing images and aerial documentation that present a true and accurate representation of the scene for investigators.
All NOPD sUAS flights will be conducted per Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulations and NOPD policies and procedures. The newly acquired sUAS will be used by NOPD officers who have received training on FAA regulations related to unmanned flight and are licensed pilots in the operation of sUAS.
Any time the NOPD elects to use the drone system, the use will be publicized to media through the NOPD’s Public Affairs Division.
The NOPD has no plans to use drone systems during the current Mardi Gras season, unless a catastrophic event should occur.
The NOPD’s Professional Standards and Accountability Bureau will monitor the department’s use of drone systems and conduct audits to ensure that such use remains consistent with the policy. This includes publishing an annual report that will be shared publicly and will document the department’s use of drone technology. Additionally, the NOPD will continue to monitor the evolution of drone usage law and propose changes to the policy as the need arises.
On February 6, both the Department of Justice and the Office of the Consent Decree Monitor agreed that neither had any further comments or concerns regarding the policy as presented by NOPD.
To view the policy, listed under NOPD Operations Manual Chapter 43.5 - UNMANNED AIRCRAFT SYSTEMS (sUAS / Drones), visit this link.
Have a question or correction? Please email NOPD’s Public Affairs Division at email@example.com.