Why drones should be part of every PD’s disaster response plan

Why drones should be part of every PD’s disaster response plan


Editor’s note: Law enforcement agencies nationwide are adopting unmanned aerial systems (UAS) – also known as drones – for operations as diverse as search and rescue, traffic accident reconstruction and SWAT response. PoliceOne’s special coverage series – 2018 Guide to Drones in Law Enforcement – takes an in-depth look at considerations for police departments looking to implement a UAS program.

By Jinnie Chua, Assistant Editor of In Public Safety

Drones were a vital part of response and recovery in Daytona Beach following Hurricane Irma, the catastrophic hurricane that tore through Florida in September 2017. It was the first time the Daytona Beach Police Department (DBPD) utilized drones, also known as unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), in a disaster response.

“They’re a tool we can deploy when we need a bird’s eye view of a critical situation,” said Anthony Galante, a criminal justice faculty member at American Military University and assistant professor in the UAS program at Embry Riddle Aeronautical University. He is an 11-year veteran officer at DBPD and was one of the primary officers involved in the development of the department’s new UAS program.

Galante explained that the UAS program is not designed to replace personnel support, but when manned police helicopters are kept in the neighboring state and carry a price tag of $1.4 million, drones are an attractive alternative. DBPD’s drones were launched out of the trunk of a car at $1,200 a piece; they were flying less than 24 hours after the hurricane passed.

Drones perform many tasks during disaster response

Instantaneous air support proved indispensable to the DBPD with their drones serving a dual-purpose:

    Streamlining the response time of first responders; Collecting information necessary for the recovery process.

In the immediate aftermath of the storm, the priority for first responders was to reach those who needed help. Downed power lines, unstable infrastructure and road blocks were both difficult and time-consuming to navigate from ground-level, but drones were able to increase response time significantly by identifying the quickest and safest routes.

“Our first responders have to be safe to help the community,” said Galante. “We had the ability to tell public works where to clear the roads so first responders didn’t have to find other ways around blocked bridges or hazards in the road.”

In addition, pictures and videos captured by the drones were essential when working with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) during the recovery process. Following natural disasters like Hurricane Irma, FEMA manages the federal funding necessary for rebuilding what is destroyed. However, they require evidence of the state of infrastructure before a storm hits.

In anticipation of this, the DBPD deployed their drones in the days before Irma’s advance to collect images of the city’s critical infrastructure. The day after the hurricane passed, they repeated the process. With two sets of images that demonstrated comparable timeframes, FEMA was able to turn around the funds at a much faster rate.

“FEMA just needs proof so they can justify handing out the money,” said Galante. “Pre-hurricane assessment is key to letting people in the community get back to normal quicker.”

Galante hopes that the UAS program has set a precedent for future disaster response preparations, but as drones are a relatively new technology, there are still a number of challenges to iron out. The greatest concern is crowded airspace.

The importance of interagency coordination

As DBPD officers discovered, there may be a number of different organizations attempting to conduct post-disaster assessments from the air. Alongside the DBPD were drones from Florida Power and Light assessing their downed power lines, as well as low-flying National Guard and Black Hawk helicopters.

“It was a little bit hectic because everybody was out doing their own thing with no communication,” said Galante. “In the future, it all needs to be coordinated in one spot, preferably with the local Emergency Operations Center.”

He stressed that if departments plan on integrating drones into a public safety role, they must also involve the community in the process. That includes educating people on the dangers of flying their own drones illegally in a conflicted airspace. Maintaining transparency is also crucial to ensuring the public is at ease with exactly what a UAS program will and won’t entail.

About the author Jinnie Chua is the assistant editor at In Public Safety, an American Military University sponsored website. She graduated from New York University in 2016 with a bachelor’s degree in Journalism and Sociology. At In Public Safety, Jinnie covers issues and trends relevant to professionals in law enforcement, fire services, emergency management and national security. She can be reached at IPSauthor@apus.edu. For more articles featuring insight from industry experts, subscribe to In Public Safety’s bi-monthly newsletter.

Read more from the source...

Video roundup: Police UAS in action

Video roundup: Police UAS in action


Editor’s note: Law enforcement agencies nationwide are adopting unmanned aerial systems (UAS) – also known as drones – for operations as diverse as search and rescue, traffic accident reconstruction and SWAT response. PoliceOne’s special coverage series – 2018 Guide to Drones in Law Enforcement – takes an in-depth look at considerations for police departments looking to implement a UAS program.

By PoliceOne Staff

Check out how these five law enforcement agencies are using UAS to fight crime, save lives and improve officer and citizen safety.

British police launch Drone Unit

Devon & Cornwall and Dorset Police became the first police forces in the United Kingdom to launch a fully operational drone unit after seeing the benefit of the drone technology. The Drone Unit has a strong following on Twitter, keeping the public informed about where and when the drone is in operational use within Devon and Cornwall.

UAS assists Wis. agency with suspect search

This video shows the Madison Police Department using a UAS to search a large metal recycling business for a suspect that fled from an officer. The UAS allowed the officers to clear multiple large dumpsters efficiently and safely.

Calif. agency conducts UAV training for high-risk traffic stops

The main goal of the San Bernardino Police Department’s UAV program is to improve officer safety during traffic stops.

UAS helps NC deputies locate missing elderly person

After Randolph County (NC) Sheriff’s Office deputies responded to a missing elderly person, a K9 unit and the Sheriff’s Office drone operator were called in to aid in the search. The drone pilot was able to locate the missing person within 25 minutes.

La. agency uses UAS to locate missing teens

The Bossier Parish Sheriff’s office used the drone to look for teenagers who escaped from Youth Challenge, a military-style training program at Camp Minden.

Read more from the source...

Fla. sheriff: Armed school officer never went inside to confront gunman

Fla. sheriff: Armed school officer never went inside to confront gunman


By Brendan Farrington, Gary Fineout and Terry Spencer Associated Press

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — The armed officer on duty at the Florida school where a shooter killed 17 people never went inside to engage the gunman and has been placed under investigation, police announced Thursday.

The Valentine’s Day shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School by a gunman armed with an AR-15 style assault rifle has reignited national debate over gun laws and school safety, including proposals by President Donald Trump and others to designate more people — including trained teachers — to carry arms on school grounds. Gun-control advocates, meanwhile, have redoubled their push to ban assault rifles.

The school resource officer at the high school took up a position viewing the western entrance of the building that was under attack for more than four minutes, but “he never went in,” Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel said at a Thursday news conference. The shooting lasted about six minutes.

The officer, Scot Peterson, was suspended without pay and placed under investigation, then chose to resign, Israel said. When asked what Peterson should have done, Israel said the deputy should have “went in, addressed the killer, killed the killer.”

The sheriff said he was “devastated, sick to my stomach. There are no words. I mean these families lost their children. I’ve been to the funerals. I’ve been to the vigils. There are no words.”

The suspect, 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz, has been jailed on 17 counts of murder and has admitted the attack. Defense attorneys, state records and people who knew him indicate that he displayed behavioral troubles for years. He owned a collection of weapons.

Politicians under pressure to tighten gun laws in response to the mass shooting floated various plans Thursday.

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida said a visit to Stoneman Douglas prompted him to change his stance on large capacity magazines. The Republican insisted he is willing to rethink his past opposition on gun proposals if there is information the policies would prevent mass shootings.

“If we are going to infringe on the Second Amendment, it has to be a policy that will work,” Rubio said in an interview Thursday with The Associated Press.

State Sen. Bill Galvano, who is helping craft a bill in response to the shooting deaths, said an idea gaining traction is a program that would allow local sheriffs to deputize someone at a school to carry a gun on campus.

Galvano insisted the idea is not the same as arming teachers. He said the program would be optional and the deputized person would have to be trained by local law-enforcement agencies.

Florida Senate President Joe Negron said both chambers are working on the legislation in response to the Parkland shootings. He said a final draft should be available “early next week at the latest.”

What won’t be considered is a ban on assault-style rifles.

That falls short of reform demanded by students who converged on Florida’s Capitol to take their concerns to state lawmakers Wednesday. Outside the building, many protesters complained that lawmakers were not serious about gun control and said that in future elections they would oppose any legislator who accepts campaign contributions from the National Rifle Association.

A day after an emotional meeting with survivors and their families, Trump tweeted his strongest stance yet on gun control. He said he would endorse strengthening background checks, banning “bump stock” style devices and raising the minimum age to 21 for buying certain rifles.

At a conference of conservative activists Thursday near Washington, Vice President Mike Pence said the administration would make school safety “our top national priority” after the shooting at the school in Parkland, Florida.

Calling school shootings “evil in our time,” Pence exhorted those in positions of authority “to find a way to come together with American solutions.”

It was a markedly different tone than that deployed on stage minutes earlier by NRA Executive Vice President and CEO Wayne LaPierre, who delivered an unbowed defense of gun ownership and lashed out at Democrats — saying they are using the tragedy for “political gain.”

“They hate the NRA. They hate the Second Amendment. They hate individual freedom,” LaPierre said.

As the 50th anniversary of her father’s assassination approaches, the daughter of civil rights icon Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said limiting gun access is long overdue. Speaking at The King Center in Atlanta, the Rev. Bernice King said tragedy “gives us an opportunity to lay aside for a moment our differences and really look at how we can come together as humanity and move forward with these injustices and these evils that continue to beset us.”

The survivors of the shooting have vowed to continue their activism, including a “March for Our Lives” in Washington next month, which King says she’ll attend.

At a funeral for slain football coach Aaron Feis, retired school groundskeeper Dave Tagliavia said he thinks the students mean what they say and won’t back down.

“I think if changes are going to be made, these kids are going to do it. They’ve got fire in their eyes,” he said.

Hundreds gathered in Parkland to remember Feis, 37, an assistant football coach and security guard gunned down while helping students to safety during the mass shooting

Joe LaGuardia, who attended high school with Feis at Stoneman Douglas, described him as “one of the greatest people I have ever known.”

On Thursday, Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson gave Rubio credit for being the only Republican to attend a televised town hall Wednesday night held in the aftermath of the school shooting and criticized Republican Gov. Rick Scott for not showing up.

“I commended (Rubio) for being there. He had the guts to be there when Governor Scott did not,” Nelson told a group of Democratic state senators.

Scott is likely to challenge Nelson as he seeks a fourth term in the Senate this November. Nelson questioned Scott’s commitment to make meaningful change after the shooting.

Republican legislative leaders in Florida say they will consider legislation that will likely call for raising the age limit to purchase a rifle from 18 to 21 and increasing funding for mental health programs and school resource officers, the police assigned to specific schools. Legislators may also enact a waiting period for rifle purchases.

Read more from the source...

Why body armor is a cop's best training buddy

Why body armor is a cop's best training buddy


By Amir Killah

It’s probably not a good idea to run a 5K with brand new running shoes unless you want to end up with blistered and bloody feet. So why do we issue body armor to new police officers and then send them out to chase fleeing subjects, wrestle domestic violence suspects to the ground or get into gun fights all while wearing unfamiliar protective gear?

3 steps to break in your new body armor

Body armor has a different feel, not just from brand to brand, but even from model to model. As a matter of fact, the same body armor can yield different contact points and restrictions based on how the various straps are adjusted. Here are 3 ways you test drive your armor:

1. Take your new body armor for a spin in a subject control training session. You need to find out how the armor reacts to striking, wrestling or ground grappling with a subject.

Questions to consider:

Will your body armor ride up and choke you? Will you have to adjust the shoulder straps or the side straps to get a better fit?

2. Next stop is the shooting range. Run through your department’s regular qualification course wearing your new body armor. See how your body armor impacts the draw of your weapon. Is your shooting stance conducive to catching a round in your trauma plate, or are you a little too bladed?

Now is the time to experiment. It is much better to find flaws in training than it is to discover your equipment’s short comings in a middle of a fight.

3. Finally, since you are already all sweaty, do a quick calisthenics workout in your body armor. Be cognizant of choke points, respiration restrictions and mobility limitations created by the fit of the armor.

All this training probably got you pretty sweaty; don’t panic, check the box your body armor came in to find a replacement liner. Use the replacement liner to get back to looking and smelling like the professional officer you are. Make sure you follow the manufacturer’s instructions on replacing your body armor liner.

Don’t neglect training with your hard body armor

With the recent and unfortunate trends and patterns in active shooter incidents around the United States, many U.S. officers are being issued – or purchasing their own – heavy body armor and carriers. The additional armor is necessary when facing a threat with a rifle.

Officers are customizing their own kits and including extra rifle magazines, self-aid/buddy first aid kits, and extra handcuffs and restraints. Many officers spend hundreds of dollars on their kits just to throw them in the trunks of the cruisers. Very little, if any, training is being conducted with the heavy body armor.

Remember, the day you pull that kit out of your trunk will be a very high-stress day. You must answer these questions ahead of time:

Do you know how the extra weight will interact with your currently equipped gear? Will your body camera be blocked or repositioned? Will you have access to your duty weapon, radio and magazines? How will the weight of the additional armor affect your body and breathing?

At the very minimum I recommend timing how long it takes to don your heavy body armor. Recruit a partner to time you as you exit your cruiser, retrieve the heavy armor from your trunk, don the body armor and rearrange your gear to how you will need it before you can run into the active shooter scene and address the threat. Again, this should be a minimum training exercise.

The more training you can do with your equipment, the more comfortable you will be when you need it under stress. Remember, you train like you fight and fight like you train. Stay safe brothers and sisters.

About the author Amir Khillah is a police officer, founder of Centurion and a police academy subject control instructor. Contact him at amir@lightningkicks.com.

Read more from the source...

How simulators will transform police use of force training in 2018

How simulators will transform police use of force training in 2018


By Lon Bartel

Over the course of 2017, police training around use of force was a national issue, as pressure from relentless media coverage and activist groups kept a number of unfortunate officer-involved incidents in the public eye.

As we enter 2018, it’s clear that this attention will not wane, and police use of force training is sure to remain top of mind for many citizens.

At the same time, government administrators are struggling to fund law enforcement training, and police overtime and staffing issues place additional pressure on training time and other resources needed to conduct adequate police training.

Despite these challenges law enforcement agencies around the country will need to be more diligent with training to help prepare their officers to face this increased scrutiny, along with the growing variety of threats they face on the streets.

We spoke with several training academics and experts to get their take on what they see as emerging trends in police use of force training. Here are three areas where they expect training to evolve in 2018:

1. Increased efficiencies in police training

Despite the booming economy, law enforcement budgets are not growing, and departments have the dilemma of trying to increase funding for training in the face of new and emerging 21st century threats that include more active shooter incidents, possible terrorist attacks and continuing police recruitment issues.

For many departments, firearms training is often only done on the range in a static environment that doesn’t adequately prepare police officers for what they will face in the field.

Rather than spending additional time on the range, in classrooms or even in online classes, departments will use blended learning programs like those offered by advanced use of force simulators, which offer efficiencies in training and allow agencies to extract more from a training session without requiring additional manpower.

Simulated scenarios provide a unique mix of hands-on training that can help officers learn how to stay focused and respond appropriately in high-stress situations in ways that can’t be replicated with static forms of training.

While simulators have been regularly used in military and airline pilot training for decades, they’re underutilized in law enforcement training, which is still stuck in “arcade-style training,” says Dr. Paul O’Connell, a policing consultant and professor of criminal justice at Iona College.

Simulators require less time to set up and run than a range session, and there are additional savings found in the reduced costs for ammunition and targets, along with time savings from eliminating gun reloading and target resetting. This allows trainers to focus more on the actual training itself.

Agencies such as the Omaha Police Department are already using its simulator to increase training efficiencies.

Unlike other forms of simulated use of force training that can require the entire training staff’s participation, Omaha states that a session in its simulator requires only one or two trainers, freeing up training staff and reducing the use of other department resources.

The department also made things easier by certifying other instructors (use of force, firearms and TASER instructors) to run training sessions on its simulator. This allowed supervisors to schedule and train more officers during their shifts, thus reducing the use of overtime or personal time to complete required training. Omaha PD said that the department was able to rotate 22 officers in and out of training on an overnight shift with none of the downtime associated with range training.

2. A drive toward data-driven training

Data-driven training will be the biggest area of advancement in police training in 2018.

Agencies are already using data for predictive analytics and developing algorithms in crime prevention. There is a huge opportunity for law enforcement to bring this same approach to how they train their officers in the use of force with peer-reviewed science on effective police training methods in advanced simulators.

“There are better ways to train,” says David Blake, a prominent instructor and consultant in human performance and the use of force. “The behavioral style of learning based on a stimulus-response can only take law enforcement so far. We need to incorporate decision-based training to teach officers cognitive-psychomotor skills.”

Police officers need more hands-on training that simulates what they actually encounter on a daily basis to allow them to:

Better recognize threats; Handle stress; De-escalate; If necessary, use lethal force in a manner that complies with a department’s use of force guidelines.

Simulators combine aspects of range training and classroom learning to allow officers to become more proficient in these areas.

Dr. Joel Suss, an assistant professor of psychology at Wichita State University, agrees, and says the move to incorporate more science and data analysis into training will mirror how professional athletes have trained since the 1970s.

Elite athletes engage in focused training using the concept of “temporal occlusion,” which essentially involves blocking the vision of the outcome of a movement at a point before a ball’s release or flight. Baseball players are taught pitch recognition by focusing on a pitcher’s release point, and soccer goalies learn how to block penalty kicks by analyzing the shooter’s hip angle and foot placement prior to the kick.

Training in advanced simulators using concepts like temporal occlusion allows trainers to help officers see and understand the environmental queues that can reliably predict what a subject will likely do in a given scenario, says Suss.

Simulators also allow for manipulation of the environment to replicate settings that can be problematic for effective decision-making, such as low light situations or ambient noise. Variables such as these contribute to the ambiguity of making split-second decisions in stressful situations, and advanced simulators permit trainers to inject new information or stimulus into a situation that influences a response to another stimulus.

This “psychological priming” can enable law enforcement to better understand and train their officers to know how to respond in situations that could require the use of force.

Suss says certain officers may be better able to react and respond in high-stress situations. Simulated scenarios allow researchers and trainers to determine whether there are associated variables that can help predict what those factors are. This is critical to reinforcing best practices and teaching skills that may be innate to an undercover officer with 20 years of experience but completely foreign to a new recruit with 20 hours of firearms range training.

Use of force simulators and the ability to input custom video background and multiple variables make such learning even easier. Trainers can conduct these ‘experiments’ in controlled environments and provide richer learning opportunities by mixing veteran officers into cadet training sessions. These factors then become the teachable moments for trainers that help trainees make better decisions on when to use lethal force or whether to continue to engage a subject with verbal commands.

Incorporating more data and academic learning into police training will allow law enforcement officers to get to the “how” and “why” of accurately predicting how scenarios will unfold.

“If we can identify which officer is better at predicting what will happen earlier than others, we can learn what the most important cognitive factors to focus on in training,” says Suss.

Simulation technology allows things like eye tracking and measuring reaction times to become a routine part of training. Even more nuanced concepts such as spatial occlusion can be brought to bear, helping law enforcement analyze whether focusing on individual body parts provides more insight into determining whether or not a subject presents an imminent threat.

3. Better training for trainers

As decision-based methodology becomes more widely accepted in use of force training, there will be an increased emphasis on “training the trainers” to include more mental and psychological components in training curriculums.

Simulated scenarios provide training on how to verbally engage subjects with techniques and slow-down situations so that officers have more time to consider their options while mentally assessing the totality of the interaction. This helps trainers ensure that officers can articulate why they chose to take a certain action or use a particular verbal command in a given situation.

Questions like these are already part of a typical debriefing that follows a simulator session, but moving forward there will be more in-scenario coaching that focuses on the mental decision-making process an officer or trainee is using, what department policy says about that decision and what, if any, other options exist in that situation.

Blake says that officers “need to know what they are looking at in a given situation and have the ability to articulate not only what their different force options are, but what they are allowed to do according to department policy and existing case law.”

The incorporation of better data and academic learning into training will create better training for trainers and more opportunities for learning for officers and cadets. Identifying the underlying expertise involved in determining threats will allow trainers to refine training curriculums to help new recruits better focus on these tactics and techniques.

2018 will no doubt bring new challenges to police training. As use of force simulator technology continues to advance and become further validated with science-based research, there will be even more sophisticated learning opportunities for law enforcement to ensure they receive the best training possible.

About the experts Dr. Paul O’Connell is a leading expert on the development and application of performance-based management systems in public agencies. He has been a full-time member of the Criminal Justice faculty at Iona College in New Rochelle, New York since 1994.

Dr. Joel Suss is an assistant professor of psychology at Wichita State University whose research interests focus on understanding and improving perceptual-cognitive performance in complex and challenging operational settings such as law enforcement, security, military command and control, aviation and emergency medicine.

David Blake is a retired California Peace Officer and certified CA-POST instructor in DT, Firearms, Force Options Simulator and Reality Based Training. He is a certified Force Science Analyst and teaches the CA-POST certified courses entitled Force Encounters Analysis and Human Factors: Threat & Error Management for the California Training Institute. He also currently facilitates the CA-POST Force Options Simulator training to tenured officers from multiple jurisdictions, and is an expert witness and consultant in human performance and use of force.

About the author Lon Bartel is a use-of-force expert for VirTra, Inc., and works closely with law enforcement agencies on use-of-force scenario training. He previously spent 20 years in law enforcement, including 17 years as a certified law enforcement trainer.

Read more from the source...

LAPD Draft Policy Calls for Quick Release of Body Camera Videos

In a move once staunchly resisted by Chief Charlie Beck and the officers’ union, the Los Angeles Police Commission has introduced a draft policy that would allow the release of video of critical incidents such as shootings that were recorded on officers’ body-worn cameras. 

Until now, the LAPD had a policy that prohibited the release of such video.

Under the proposed plan, the LAPD would also begin to release some video shot by cameras in patrol cars and on drones – and video collected from private security cameras and bystanders.

Last year, former Commission president, Matt Johnson, initiated a review of the policy as pressure grew to release body camera footage. That pressure in part resulted from an increasing number of bystander videos showing officers shooting people and the outcry those videos produced.

“Not releasing that video – ever – really hurt the trust with the community,” Johnson told KPCC .


Like this story? Want to know why tens of thousands of law enforcement people receive stories like this in their email twice a week?

Subscribe to award winning OnTarget newsletter!

Read more from source...