DPS Launches Public Safety Unmanned Aerial System Program

Staff Writer

AUSTIN – The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) today announced the launch of a public safety unmanned aerial systems (UAS) program. The department’s multi-purpose, small UASs will be used for a variety of public safety missions across Texas, including flight missions related to: officer safety, search and rescue, disaster support, aerial observation support, crash reconstruction, crime scene photography, and communication tower inspections. The UASs can deploy rapidly and provide clear and immediate images and crucial situational awareness to the law enforcement and first responders responsible for protecting and serving Texans. The UAS is an excellent tool to deploy when DPS aircraft are unavailable; if a mission is too dangerous for manned aircraft to be deployed; or when deemed more cost effective than conventional aircraft.
DPS employees operating a UAS must be FAA certified and receive at least 10 hours of practical training. To date, three DPS employees have received the required UAS training and are now authorized to begin operating a DPS UAS during daylight hours. So far, the program’s fleet includes 17 UASs, which may increase as public safety needs warrant. The 17 aircraft cost a total of approximately $70,000, and were paid for with existing funding, grant funding or seized funds.
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