The Police Department is asking the Public Health and Safety Committee to set a public hearing on August 24, 2022, to receive public comment on the development of an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) program.
Minnesota State Statute 626.19 became effective August 1, 2020. This statute governs the use of UAV’s by law enforcement agencies in the state. It applies to all aspects of UAV use, such as data collection and retention, training, reporting requirements, and response to public safety emergencies. This statute requires that prior to a law enforcement agency must provide an opportunity for public comment before the agency purchases a UAV, and this must occur at a regularly scheduled meeting. Public comment will also be gathered electronically through the City’s online public comment mechanisms.
Law enforcement agencies across the state have noticed and implemented the use of UAV’s because of the beneficial impact on public safety. In 2021, 76 Minnesota law enforcement agencies reported use of a UAV to the BCA. The ability to gather information in response to such things as real-time emergencies, crime scene documentation, or traffic accident mapping, has shown great value. Importantly, UAV’s are a great tool in de-escalating potentially dangerous situations. UAV’s provide situational awareness that otherwise might be unavailable, which allows officers to slow a situation down and limit the possibility of misreading a situation by any of the involved parties.