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“Drones” make a demonstration at Vol State

Last updated on February 1, 2016

Kalynn Meeker

Volunteer State Community College held a free seminar hosted by Director & Associate Professor of Criminal Justice, Kevin Cook, to showcase Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Technology on Oct 30 2015 at the Walington Science Field Station.

Most people as “drones” commonly know UAVs.  However, the Federal Aviation Administration said this is a word to avoid when speaking of the modern police machines.

“The word ‘drone’ has a negative public connotation, because people think of large unmanned military aircraft with weapons,” said Cook.

The correct names are Unmanned Aerial Vehicles or Unmanned Aircraft Systems said the FAA.

Cook went to Madison, Wisconsin and completed a UAV Law Enforcement Operators course in September 2015.

He was then able to come back to Tennessee and purchase two Phantom 3 Professional UAVs for the Criminal Justice Department at Vol State by means of the Perkins Grant.

He held the seminar as a public service for Middle Tennessee law enforcement, corrections and emergency services personnel to teach them about the uses and regulations of the UAS.

Corrections, Law Enforcement, and Corrections Agencies were invited to the event as well as criminal justice students to be introduced to the two new UAVs at Vol State.

Cook said Hendersonville Police Department personnel, City of Lebanon Emergency Services Unit personnel, Springfield Police Department personnel, Tennessee Department of Corrections personnel and criminal justice students attended the event.

According to a website that sells this specific model of UAV, www.dji.com, they are 1,259 dollars apiece and have these features: 4K Video /12 megapixel photo camera, integrated 3-axis stabilization gimbal, easy to fly, intelligent flight system, live HD view, dedicated remote controller, powerful mobile app with auto video editor and vision positioning for indoor flight.

Since these UAVs are readily available to the public, the FAA is taking regulatory actions for public safety. They are possibly making each buyer register their UAV through the FAA by Nov 20, 2015.

There are current basic regulations put in place by the FAA that owners of the UAVs cannot do including flying  over 400 feet, flying within 5 miles of an airport, flying over stadiums or crowds of people flying  in a reckless manner and flying at night.

Cook said Tennessee has developed its own laws concerning UAVs. For instance, the Freedom from Unwarranted Surveillance Act, 39-13-902, Lawful capture of images — Use for lawful purposes, and 39-14-405, Criminal Trespass are some of the laws in place to protect civilians from unlawful uses of the UAVs.

Though these laws are in place, Cook said, they are just not tested in courts enough and are vague.

Cook said he taught about topics included case law, legal limitations, usage of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV’s) (search and rescue (children/elderly), evidence photography, tactical deployments, event security planning, and prisoner escapees, and many other practical lifesaving operations.

He also gave each attendee the chance to learn to fly the UAV in which he said they picked up on quickly.

“The participants of the seminar felt they learned a great deal, and many of them were interested in taking information learned about UAV’s usage and technology; and potentially obtaining one at their agency,” said Cook.

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