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Peter Blake

Year of Award: 2013 Award State: Queensland Emergency Services > Police
To study the development and implementation of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles for use by Australian police services - Germany, UK, Canada, USA
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Sergeant Peter BLAKE has 23 years of operational policing experience with the Queensland Police service in Australia. He has co-ordinated and commanded extensive land, sea and air searches in remote and treacherous locations.  He is a writer, researcher, author, the recipient of the National Medal and the Queensland Police Service Medal. This report will focus on the use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles used for policing purposes.

In September and October of 2013 I travelled widely throughout Europe, England, Canada and the United States.  I was fortunate enough to study at universities, military conferences, government agencies and most significantly with Police and border security organisations that are currently using UAS in their daily activities.  I tested and flew most aircraft that are in use by police as well as the next generation of aircraft that are not yet in service.

This paper will clearly identify how law enforcement has not only successfully implemented UAS into general policing, but how they have proved UAS to be a safe, cost saving and publically acceptable concept.  I have concentrated my research on Visual Line of Site (VLOS) Operations and what could be classed as small or mini UAS.

Canadian law enforcement agencies clearly lead the world in utilising UAS technology in policing.  From its implementation only 3 years ago the Royal Canadian mounted Police has demonstrated how UAS can not only provide high quality aerial footage but can actually save lives.  The RCMP makes no claims to be the first or only emergency service to use UAS in policing however a close  inspection of how they have implemented their program, the nature and simplicity of their operations, their manuals and the results they have achieved to date clearly show they are leaders in this field. 

In many ways Australia and Canada are very similar, large areas of small population with vast distances between major cities means the cost of operating helicopters is impractical and expensive.  The Canadians have seen this as an opportunity to create a new lucrative industry.  To facilitate this whilst keeping the industry safe, aviation regulators have made a clear distinction between the use of small UAS operating below 400 feet within line of sight and those larger aircraft that fly in commercial airspace.

With this technology Police and Fire and Rescue Services throughout Australia will benefit by significantly reducing costs whilst increasing their aerial capabilities.   Even though UAS are still in their infancy, Police have already proven their potential.  The RCMP has proven they save lives, whilst increasing operational capabilities but most importantly they will save money.   With the cost of UAS operations dropping and the capabilities increasing, Governments at all levels need to take some affirmative action. 

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