The Grand Junction Police Department has implemented the use of drone technology to enhance the department’s mission of protecting lives and property; An asset that officers say will be extremely beneficial when other means and resources are not available or are less effective.
The “Grand Junction Police Department Unmanned Aerial System Program” is comprised of unmanned aircraft system drones that are capable of sustaining directed flight whether preprogrammed or remotely controlled. The Grand Junction Police Department purchased three unmanned aircraft system drones and other equipment to start the program, which will include operations of the program by fourteen GJPD employees, in both civilian and sworn positions.
The program is intended to assist law enforcement operations during traffic accidents, crime scenes, criminal investigations, and search and rescue. All UAS’s have cameras which will allow for video and photographs to be taken by the operators.
“Drone technology is becoming more widely used throughout law enforcement agencies,” said program supervisor, Trent Rundquist. “They are an extremely cost effective and time efficient way to help fight crime.”
All UAS operators for the Grand Junction Police Department will be required to go through a Part 107-type class and pass the FAA Part 107 Remote Pilot examination prior to operating a UAS. Rundquist, the agency’s Crime Laboratory Supervisor, will supervise the program, including the trainings, when the drones will be deployed, and daily maintenance of the equipment. The use of a UAS will be in strict accordance with constitutional and privacy rights and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulations. UAS will NOT be used to breach the privacy of citizens. Absent of official law enforcement duties or exigent circumstances, operators shall adhere to FAA altitude regulations and shall not intentionally record or transmit images of any location where a person would have a reasonable expectation of privacy.
“Our community can expect their same right to privacy that they’ve always had,” said Rundquist. “Our mission is for the drone program to become an additional tool to help aid crime scenes and criminal investigations, as well as enhancing officer safety and transparent communication with community members. We’re excited to see where the program will lead.”