Tom Madigan – Law Enforcement UAS Program Expert – Podcast

When it comes to someone with an extensive resume in law enforcement, Tom Madigan has a bio that reads like the book of an expert. His experience runs from find them, catch them, extract them, test them, to lock them up. In other words, patrol, detective, SWAT, crime lab, and corrections. Today we can aviation to that list.

With 25 years under his belt, he has finally landed as the Assistant Sheriff at the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office in California. He is responsible for the aviation program that includes a big fleet of drones, pilots, airplanes, and helicopters. Tom is a private pilot and holds a Part 107 certificate.

Assistant Sheriff Madigan has been critically involved in many efforts to integrate drones into public safety. If there is an important group to present to or advise, he’s done it.

I invited Tom on to pick his brain about what an exceptional COA flight program looks like in law enforcement so others can follow his lead.

Here are some of the issues we talk about.

  • Doing what you want under a COA as a public safety flight operation.
  • Aircraft integration.
  • Airspace considerations.
  • Not every single person makes a good public safety pilot.
  • Checklists.
  • Not every flight is smart to do.
  • Officers and deputies are flying FAA-recognized aircraft and precautions need to be taken.
  • Using drones as a force multiplier.
  • Why buying inexpensive drones makes the most sense right now.
  • Look at drones priced so they are disposable and avoid expensive drones right now.
  • Using multiple UAS at a scene.
  • Drones will not take the jobs of manned pilots.
  • COAs can be easy to extend and renew.
  • Top lessons all departments should know before launching into a UAS program.
  • The importance of internal and community PR awareness of your drone program.
  • You can pursue Part 107 training and a COA at the same time.


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You’re listening to the public safety drone flight podcast.

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Your source of real-world actionable aviation information for fire departments, police departments, and law enforcement agencies.

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This is the critical information you need to be an exceptional pilot and help save lives with flight and now your host public safety flight. Chief Pilot Steve Rhode.

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Hi, this is Steve Rhode, your friendly chief pilot here at the public safety flight website.

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Be sure to visit to get in on my private email list.

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Read all the latest posts or ask me all of your public safety drone questions.

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Or if that trips you up, you can land in the right place by using when it comes to someone with an extensive resume and law enforcement Tom Madigan has a bio that reads like a book of an expert.

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His experience runs from, find them, catch them, extract them, test them to lock them up. In other words, patrol detectives, swat crime lab, and corrections.

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And today we can add aviation to that list With 25 years under his belt. He has finally landed as the assistant sheriff at the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office in California.

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He’s responsible for the aviation program that includes a big fleet of drones, pilots, airplanes, and at least one helicopter.

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Tom is a private pilot and holds a Part 107 certificate.

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Assistant Sheriff Madigan has been critically involved in many efforts to integrate drones into public safety if there is an important group to present to or advise he’s done it.

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I invited tom on to pick his brain about what an exceptional COA flight program looks like in law enforcement so others can follow his lead.

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Tom thank you so much for sharing your time and thoughts with us today.

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Steve thank you for well, first of all, thank you so much for that very kind introduction.

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I’m grateful for the opportunity to speak with you today.

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And, and, and I’ll tell you, uh, we we uh, we were early adopters and so we’ve learned from a lot of our mistakes and we tried to share with others so they don’t have to go through some of the hurdles that we went through.

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But, but, but I do appreciate and we’re grateful to be uh, with you today.

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You’re someone I respect and point to as an individual that has a good grasp on running a drone flight operation under a certificate of waiver or authorization otherwise known as a COA.

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Is it hard work to run such a well recognized aviation operation?

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So um, it is challenged.

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It is challenging, but, but just to, to go back historically, you know, when we started and how we got to where we’re at is when, when we first started, it was the only way to run a drone operation.

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Um, it was before, you know, you could, you could get a Part 107 certificate.

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We um, our agency in 2015 applied for what was known at the time as a training COA.

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So and, and that took us almost a year.

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In fact, we applied in 2014 and got it in 2015.

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So it took us a year to get a training color.

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And we were the first agency in the United States to get a training COA in,

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controlled airspace because our training center happened to fall within a class delta Air space of the Livermore airport, which is about four miles away from us.

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And let’s inform listeners that Alameda County runs from San Francisco down towards San Jose out over Livermore, you’ve got a lot of populated areas.

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Yeah, so, so so that that’s a fact and, and uh, the San Francisco Bay area has arguably some of the most complex airspace in, in the United States, along with,

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you know, the other class bravo airports throughout the United States, you know, the big, big cities.

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We fall under that class bravo.

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For the most part, we’ve had to operate it in it on occasion. But uh, we, we, we fall under it, we have Oakland’s class Charlie airspace and that we fly in a lot.

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Um our folks were flying in in san Jose’s class charlie airspace under an addendum to our college just this morning for a high risk operation.

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But in addition to that we have um Hayward’s class um delta, Livermore’s class delta.

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And then um Oakland has a class E extension that that that goes active at nighttime when Hayward’s airport closes, so that I just addressed a new group of remote pilots.

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We call our folks remote pilots because we have man pilots and we have remote pilots and there is a distinction and there’s a difference, and I think it’s important to note that um I just.

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Told that this new group yesterday who all have their part one of seven certificates, We require that,

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as as a component of being a member of our team, even though we operate in the COA because to me it validates that they understand and have been tested,

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you know, and understand the airspace and and and the different,

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requirements to fly a small UAS.

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We also require them to go through our own self-certification training. But we could talk about that later.

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But I guess in a nutshell, what I’m trying to say is we do operate and complicated airspace, but we do it over and over again.

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So once they understand it, it initially seems very overwhelming to start learning about the different airspaces and what requirements are to operate within them.

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But once they’ve done it 20 times in the same place, they get it.

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They understand it and um are our primary goal is to,

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operate a safe program and safely integrate unmanned aircraft with manned aircraft and our remote pilots work routinely with our man pilots.

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And so they have to deconflict the airspace. So, you know, our folks will be working at 200 ft, the helicopter will be working at between 600,000 ft and, and, and then there are airplanes in the mix too.

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Um, so it’s a delicate dance that’s done, but it can be done in a, in a thoughtful, in a coordinated manner by, you know, sticking strictly to the terms of the COA that we have.

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Um, so, so we started off with.

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A training COA and then from there we were given a jurisdictional COA that was before the broad area COA exists.

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That was before it existed. So it was specific to the airspace within above our county.

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Um Now it’s it’s much easier, you know, for I believe most agencies can get by with a broad area color.

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That gives them the class, the uncontrolled or Class G airspace throughout the nation.

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You know, the night flights, the beyond visual line of sight waiver, the flights over human beings in emergency situations.

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I think most places can get by with that.

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Um, but others, you know, like us who are working in more complex airspace, they have to then go out and get a separate jurisdictional COA.

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Um, We we find, you know, many benefits to to um to having a color.

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Let me get some initial questions in first.

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You probably would believe that I hear from people that the reason they decide to go the core out is because they think they can do whatever they want as a public safety flight operation.

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Is that a realistic point of view?

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No I mean that’s not realistic because um you know the missions that obviously, you know, you can only they can only be flown for a legitimate governmental uh function.

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Um And there’s there’s also some fairly, I wouldn’t call them burdensome, but,

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there’s you know, monthly reporting requirements, there’s the requirement to file um a NOTAM um You know, those are things that don’t necessarily take place in the Part 107 world.

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But you know, I believe, you know as a remote pilot and a private pilot, you know, before I take off on a cross country flight, I’m checking the no Tums for where I’m leaving and where I’m going because I want to know,

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if there’s a UAS operation,

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along my route and really especially where I’m taking off and landing, I mean that’s important information for a pilot to know so and that’s uh that’s uh.

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It’s a requirement under the the COA.

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But it also um there’s a waiver, you know, there there’s,

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if the safety of the operation could be compromised, there are waivers from filing the NOTAM, but we find it,

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um the notification of the tower and filing the NOTAM is important um important steps in a safe operation.

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Um And we have a very large team, so even as people are responding to the scene, others can notify the tower, others can file the NOTAM for us.

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Um And so it um sure, I don’t see any downside, I don’t see any downside to it.

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Um You know, it’s just to create awareness to pilots flying through the area. They’re going to want to know that there’s a US flying, even though you’re generally below where they’re flying.

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I’ve actually had departments say to me that the reason they went the COA route was because Their pilots could not pass the part 107 exam or they didn’t want to pay for the part 107 exam.

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Is that reasonable.

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I think that’s foolish. I think that the Part 107 exam is a barometer that someone is understanding the information.

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You know, we we the Airborne Public Safety Association puts on a part one of seven class. We have our people go through that Not every single person on our team.

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We have approximately 25 remote pilots. But sometimes we just brought on some more people, people promoted out of the unit and are doing different things because it’s busy, they’re busy all the time.

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I mean it is a lot of work that they’re doing, but every single one of them, we’ve provided them with a study guide, we’ve sent them through a course, we’ve even hosted the course and every single one of them has passed.

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And that is knowledge that is critical in order to fly safely.

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You know, the notion that you can just, you know, put a UAS up in the air without some forethought, in some planning, you know, checking the weather and checking, you know, is there a T.

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F. Are in place? You know, is there is there a TFR in place?

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Um you know, we have a checklist that our remote pilots have to have to follow.

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It’s similar to a checklist that a pilot would follow. In fact, we when we first started the program, we relied on our members of our air squadron who at the time were many more volunteer pilots.

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And one of them is a was a United Airlines 787 captain. And he says, where’s your checklist? I said, well, we don’t have a checklist.

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He helped us develop a checklist. And he and and and they’re all required to as part of the policy to to to look at it before they fly.

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You know, there are certain things, there are certain times when we may not be able to fly.

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You know, if it’s you know, IFR conditions or you know the winds are so extreme that they exceed the capacity of the of the aircraft or you know, we’re so close to an airport.

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And that’s why, I mean just part one of seven is just scratching the surface. But that to me is an indicator that they have an understanding of the weather and the airspace.

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And then the requirements of the U. S. Of course they are a bit different with the the COA. So I think that that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.

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It’s an investment in the future of your program.

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Making sure that minimally they understand the basics.

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Because if you have an incident or accident, the F. A.

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I mean they view these are aircraft right? And if someone gets hurt, if someone gets hurt they’re gonna they’re gonna investigate that.

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And so to have someone who doesn’t have the knowledge and experience I think I think doesn’t make a lot of sense. And I think the other thing is is is the supervisors and managers.

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Have to understand it to write our, our people have the sole authority to just, just like in an airplane or helicopter, they have the sole authority to decline a mission for,

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you know, safety reasons, weather reasons, a problem with the airframe reasons.

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And a captain can’t come up to a deputy sheriff and say you will fly this right now.

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It doesn’t happen, it doesn’t happen. Um and it shouldn’t happen.

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Um And that’s why it’s so important there. The Airborne Public Safety Association puts on, you know, courses for, for managers of aviation units and I think those were important courses too to attend.

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Um So, so you don’t get into a predicament where because law enforcement, you know, it’s it’s a paramilitary organization.

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Um you know, the captain’s used to telling the lieutenant and sergeant and deputy sheriff what to do, you know, so when the captain here is, I’m not doing something, you know, that’s gonna, you know, cause some heartburn for, for that captain.

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But, but, but if everyone understands that um,

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you know, there’s times, you know, we have an area in our service area that is, it is on the departure end of the Hayward airport and there’s some homes tucked right down there and it’s just not practical to fly us there.

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If we were to do that, if we were to do that, the only time we would do that would be they would have to shut that airport down.

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I mean, they would have to shut it down and I’ll tell you that’s happened before.

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Um We we’ve flown drones.

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At the Oakland International Airport where we had a vehicle pursuit where one of our deputy sheriffs assigned to the Oakland Airport try to stop the vehicle.

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The suspect rammed the gate, drove,

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across the active runway of the international airport and then on the along the jetty of the where the bay is and it was a dust storm.

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And and the deputy lost sight of the suspect who um we found out.

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A day later had jumped in the water and drowned.

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But we didn’t know that for the day. They shut down that runway that active runway.

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And we flew drones up and down that area looking for the suspect.

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And then and then and they had had the commercial aircraft. And these are large aircraft.

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These are large aircraft flying in and out of that international airport, take off on a different runway.

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So that was the only time that has happened. But so what I’m trying to say is um, there has to be forethought anytime you.

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Deploy us because if you’re flying at near an airport, you know, that could be a real big problem.

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And it’s not lawful right? I mean, it’s it’s not you have to have the permissions to do it.

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And and our COA allows us in coordination with the tower, you know, to do things like that in the most extreme circumstances. And I don’t envision that happening very often.

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It all it probably happened almost never for for people. But the point is, is is that, you know, the COA spells out where and when we can fly, what coordination we need to do with the tower, what no terms we need to file.

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Um, so we’re proponents of of of of the COA is the monthly reporting system a little burdensome.

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Yes, it is, but but we use it.

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And you know, the other thing is, is, is for us, you know, that Lance system um, Under 107, it’s not helpful to us around a lot of the airports we have to fly around.

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I mean when you look at the grid, it’s showing zeros in areas where we routinely fly us. And so the co allows for that.

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The co also allows for us to to,

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seek emergency addendums to the COA and TFR waivers.

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And we’ve done that. We’ve done that for did it recently for a presidential visit.

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We received a TFR. Waiver for for some U. S. Flights.

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During a presidential visit we receive T. Fr waivers for um um uh thermal imaging and hotspots sensing and and mapping in large fires that have taken place in California over the past few years.

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And then we receive T fr waivers are not T.

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F. R. Waivers airspace waivers just today to fly down in san Jose.

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So it takes a little bit of time to do it. But but it’s important to do I feel so you’ve also managed a manned aircraft in your flight operation.

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Have you observed a cultural difference between the man pilots and the remote pilots that come in with Just there 107 training.

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You the pilot, do the pilots, the man pilots with experience look at aviation differently then somebody who’s just coming in as a drone pilot.

00:18:53.334 –> 00:18:56.964
Yeah, I mean, I think so. I think,

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if we if we go back a little bit, um, I think initially when we first got into the drone business, that there was a um.

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Actually a legitimate concern by.

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The man pilots, not just ours, but throughout the region that, you know, we’re coming after their jobs, right?

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And that that we’re infringing upon the work that they do.

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And and to me that’s um, couldn’t be further from the truth.

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I believe that the careful, thoughtful integration of manned and unmanned, that drones complement the work that our our manpower is due in the air.

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And I do believe that our people and and the aviation programs around us, that they understand that.

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I’ll give you an example. Um We had a situation where our deputies attempted to stop someone and the person fled and he broke into a house.

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It was occupied by um, uh two elderly women.

00:20:08.194 –> 00:20:12.354
And and he was in that house. So we thought he had taken them hostage.

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The helicopter got there very, very quickly.

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Very quickly. The helicopter was overhead and providing air support and watching that perimeter, watching the windows before the drones arrived.

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So the helicopters there quicker because it’s in the air.

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So once the helicopter gets there in his on scene.

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Then the drones start showing up if you have drones strategically placed throughout your cities or counties, much like a canine officer, right? Much like the canine or, or you know, school resource officer or whatever, you know?

00:20:50.012 –> 00:21:02.602
Um, so the drone gets there, um, they get up in the air and they now take over the scene from a helicopter and the helicopter moves on to what’s next. So now the drone is there.

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We usually we don’t fly one drone on things because we’ll have three drones going um, you know, one to maintain, uh, the Overwatch of the residents itself.

00:21:17.992 –> 00:21:21.182
Then another watching the perimeter in case someone where to flee.

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And then in this situation, a third one to go inside the house and try to find the person.

00:21:25.802 –> 00:21:33.252
So, so it’s, you know, it’s, it’s there’s not one tool for the job, right?

00:21:33.262 –> 00:21:40.592
It’s there’s multiple drones for for different types of, of work that needs to be done. But so so back to the question.

00:21:40.602 –> 00:21:53.932
Yeah. Initially I thought there was skepticism amongst the man pilots but now I think that their their feelings for the most part have evolved and they understand that the drone is not going to take their job from them.

00:21:53.942 –> 00:22:00.012
It’s really not but it will it will absolutely it’s a force multiplier will complement the work that they’re doing.

00:22:00.192 –> 00:22:09.232
Um Could there be a time you know when we we get to this beyond visual line of sight and and you know where the remote I.

00:22:09.232 –> 00:22:17.212
D. And and and when this drone could follow a vehicle pursuit maybe maybe maybe in the future that could change.

00:22:17.212 –> 00:22:26.182
But right now you know to me they just they complement each other and and that’s the message that that that I believe we need to get out.

00:22:26.192 –> 00:22:31.712
So so they’re all working as a team as a manned airplane pilot.

00:22:32.192 –> 00:22:36.162
You know what it’s like you’re you’re up there flying around 1,502,000 ft.

00:22:36.172 –> 00:22:44.702
It’s like you have a wide screen tv and with the drone, it’s almost like you’re looking through a straw, you know, a magnifying glass at at a scene.

00:22:45.192 –> 00:22:49.212
I just wish there were more operations that could operate cooperatively.

00:22:49.999 –> 00:22:57.919
I think I agree with that and I think that in the future there there will be because if if you look around um,

00:22:58.299 –> 00:23:05.379
You know, I think there’s about I know there’s about 18,000 plus, you know, law enforcement agencies in the nation.

00:23:05.379 –> 00:23:09.279
I want to say there’s about 50,000 public safety agency.

00:23:09.279 –> 00:23:19.209
I just saw a slide from the FAA about that the other day and only 500 ish have manned aviation programs and a lot of those aren’t even full-time and aviation programs.

00:23:19.209 –> 00:23:25.299
So uh you know to me um you know these U. A. B. S.

00:23:25.309 –> 00:23:32.159
You know, they just help detect dangers that are people just can’t see and they just make good business sense.

00:23:32.159 –> 00:23:47.129
They’re really cost effective. You know, I mean we don’t buy the super expensive we we did we we we we I get teased to this day by by my folks were saying I wasted $100,000 of counting money.

00:23:47.129 –> 00:23:50.269
They call them the 2 $50,000 paperweights.

00:23:50.279 –> 00:23:58.329
Um, you know, because the early adopters, um, you know, oh, we need, you know, military grade, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.

00:23:58.339 –> 00:24:01.169
Well, that was an experiment that didn’t work out.

00:24:01.179 –> 00:24:08.099
And, and so, you know, we use just the, some of the basic, uh, we do, we do use the jet products.

00:24:08.099 –> 00:24:18.939
We are testing other products. We do have some sky video things were using. And we’re, the reason we use Di Jack is because they work.

00:24:18.949 –> 00:24:29.049
Um, and I know the vast majority of public safety age to use Day Jack, but, but once something comes along, that’s just as cost effective and works just as good, if not better.

00:24:29.059 –> 00:24:33.759
We’re not married to DJ were, we will gladly try something different.

00:24:33.769 –> 00:24:37.069
But so I’ve been telling people.

00:24:37.747 –> 00:24:43.737
If you’re looking to start a program, just buy something that is priced at a point where it’s disposable for you.

00:24:43.747 –> 00:24:50.257
100% I agree with that 100%. I’m a, I’m a big fan of crawl, walk run.

00:24:50.647 –> 00:24:58.567
Um, and and to go out and start out with a, you know, mattress 300 you know that that’s, I don’t know,

00:24:58.597 –> 00:25:11.257
probably $30,000 with everything with all the cameras and all the, all the payloads, all the different systems you need, um, it’s gonna set you back 30 grand to me.

00:25:11.347 –> 00:25:22.757
You know, the magic zoom or magic duel, a Maverick mini, we actually are now given out a Mavic Dual, a Mavic zoom and a Mavic meaning, so they have three, that’s the basic,

00:25:22.767 –> 00:25:28.897
equipment that our people have, that they have them with them when they’re out in the field or wherever they’re at, they have it.

00:25:28.907 –> 00:25:33.867
And then if, if, if, if the incident needs something more than that,

00:25:33.947 –> 00:25:44.397
Or becomes protracted, then we have these vehicles equipped with, you know, TVs in the back, charging stations have the larger drones and then we bring to the scene.

00:25:44.407 –> 00:25:50.987
But you know, for the most part those little drones that are very cost-effective. They worked really, really well.

00:25:50.997 –> 00:26:01.067
I mean when it’s pouring rain they’re not going to be working. But you know, I’d say 85% of time they do just find um there’s no perfect, there’s no perfect solution.

00:26:01.547 –> 00:26:05.737
There’s some drone operations out there that have actually lost the COA status.

00:26:06.347 –> 00:26:13.727
Why do you think that happens? Well, I mean I don’t I’m not I’m not aware of the specifics of,

00:26:13.737 –> 00:26:23.167
the folks that lost their COA status but we work a lot with Steve Pansky from the FAA and Michael O’Shea,

00:26:23.547 –> 00:26:29.337
and Charles Warner from uh you know, drone responders and.

00:26:29.844 –> 00:26:37.954
I would imagine that they’re just not complying with the terms and conditions of their co. They’re not doing the reporting that they’re required to do.

00:26:37.964 –> 00:26:47.154
Um, you know, which is a shame. I mean, you know, under the public co, you know, you can self certify your you know, you self certify your program that that could be an advantage.

00:26:47.444 –> 00:26:55.984
You know, you have the the limited operations over, over people. You have the night operations. You can get the beyond visual line of sight waiver.

00:26:55.994 –> 00:27:06.854
You know, you can exceed the 55 pounds you know, uh, rule under 107, if you need to, we don’t. But if you needed to, um, so I don’t know.

00:27:06.864 –> 00:27:17.874
I don’t understand it. I mean, the only thing I could think people say is the pathway, you know, to one oh, seven appears to be easier than the pathway to get a COA.

00:27:17.884 –> 00:27:23.164
But I don’t agree with that. You know, the we’ve had to redo our COA’s.

00:27:23.544 –> 00:27:31.364
The process is been streamlined. I mean, there’s templates out there, especially for the agencies that are going to get a broad area COA.

00:27:31.374 –> 00:27:36.424
Um you know that That that I mean, you could feel that out in an hour.

00:27:36.434 –> 00:27:45.084
It’s not that hard to fill out. And I do feel, you know, I mean, when you have a Part 107 certificate, it’s your own certificate.

00:27:45.094 –> 00:27:57.244
It’s your own ticket, so to speak. You know, I feel that flying under the COA I This is just my feeling, you know, provides the individual, you know, more protection.

00:27:57.254 –> 00:28:02.244
Uh, you know, flying under a COA than flying under Part 107 but.

00:28:02.828 –> 00:28:15.178
Again we require the 107 certificate. It’s a requirement to me. It’s it’s just a barometer that they understand the the information. It’s a baseline for for learning.

00:28:15.188 –> 00:28:19.838
Um and and there is the courses their self study.

00:28:19.928 –> 00:28:23.548
Our initial guys did a self study guide. You know we got him the.

00:28:23.728 –> 00:28:37.758
Uh prep wear or whatever that’s called and they did it on their own and then now we off now we host the course with APSA at our facilities and so you know they can do that as well.

00:28:37.758 –> 00:28:48.698
So I just don’t think it’s I don’t getting the one of seven is a simple process takes a little learning and the co up is just a little more complicated but I think,

00:28:48.708 –> 00:28:54.418
it gives people additional advantages in some protections as well.

00:28:54.428 –> 00:29:03.218
Do you have somebody who is the responsible person? Maybe that’s you for the COA that administratively make sure that everybody is living up to what it says?

00:29:03.228 –> 00:29:06.198
Yeah. No it’s it’s not me. Um,

00:29:06.208 –> 00:29:19.628
uh It used it used to be me but it’s I just I have when I got this promotion to Assistant Sheriff I have a lot more responsibilities now and the U. A. V. And aviation.

00:29:19.688 –> 00:29:23.818
It’s my it’s my labor of love. You know it’s my it’s my passion.

00:29:23.828 –> 00:29:31.018
Um So the sheriff great great very graciously allows me to keep involved in it.

00:29:31.018 –> 00:29:37.048
But now I have a number of so most of our people are.

00:29:37.628 –> 00:29:47.008
Yeah oh it’s an answer assignment for him but I have a few that it’s their full time job and kind of managing the day to day operation the program and they’re responsible for that.

00:29:47.008 –> 00:29:49.548
We have a monthly training day.

00:29:49.558 –> 00:29:55.528
Um You know we go over parts of the COA every single training day every training day.

00:29:55.528 –> 00:30:01.568
We have we have a block on the COA and then we’ll also have a block on some 107 stuff.

00:30:01.568 –> 00:30:15.068
Some air airspace stuff every single day because in addition to debriefing the prior missions from the month before and then and then talking about the future, we always try to include an hour ongoing, let’s go over the COA.

00:30:15.078 –> 00:30:17.668
And and and and and they get tired of hearing it.

00:30:17.678 –> 00:30:23.828
But but it’s important right? I mean it’s important that they read it, they understand it.

00:30:23.838 –> 00:30:34.338
Um They can ask questions about it and then we spend a lot of time on air space to just because it’s it’s I mean if it was all uncontrolled airspace it’d be easy.

00:30:34.348 –> 00:30:46.638
But but it’s not. So we have to talk about the nuances of of of where these missions are and stuff like that. So you have all this experience, you are at the top of this pyramid of experience.

00:30:47.628 –> 00:30:58.338
What is the top lesson you wish all new departments knew or understood before excitingly launching their new CO. A drone program because what a salesperson or a friend told them?

00:30:59.938 –> 00:31:05.058
Um, I would say take it slow.

00:31:05.438 –> 00:31:16.918
Um, the roadmap has been developed from other agencies, talked to other agencies, learn from their mistakes, um, and don’t try to.

00:31:16.928 –> 00:31:22.818
Um, you know, I would just say the biggest thing is, is a pathway already exists.

00:31:22.828 –> 00:31:26.618
Um, take it slow training training training.

00:31:26.628 –> 00:31:32.348
I mean you’re, we have a monthly training day that our people are required to tenants an eight hour training day.

00:31:32.638 –> 00:31:39.728
I’m not saying other agents have to do that, but you know, that’s a perishable skill, right? Flying drones is a perishable skill.

00:31:39.738 –> 00:31:51.598
Um, you know, I used to, I used to fly almost every day, every day I’d be practicing, I don’t get to do that anymore, but you know, the training component of this is key.

00:31:51.608 –> 00:32:03.048
Um, setting a policy that spells out what missions your agency is authorized is key because when we started this, you know, we didn’t know what we didn’t know.

00:32:03.058 –> 00:32:14.258
So we brought in, um, pilots swat team guys, bomb squad guys, search and rescue guys, detectives, um, crime lab people.

00:32:14.268 –> 00:32:20.618
And we said, okay, this is what we have in your world. How can you use this?

00:32:20.738 –> 00:32:27.248
And we sort of developed it from there because I don’t know, I’m not a bomb squad guy, I don’t know what those guys need.

00:32:27.258 –> 00:32:30.648
Um, they tell me what they need, right? And I said, okay, that makes sense.

00:32:30.658 –> 00:32:45.498
Um, and so listen to, I would say listen to others who have been through before and just go slow, have a good policy engaging, robust community outreach. So everyone knows what you’re doing.

00:32:45.638 –> 00:32:53.688
I think the, you know, when we started this, there was a SAN Francisco Chronicle article that said East Bay at the forefront of the drone debate.

00:32:53.698 –> 00:33:03.378
And we spent all this time, you remember saying, you know, as important as it is to understand what a drone is, as equally as important, understand what it’s not these are not predator drones.

00:33:03.388 –> 00:33:12.288
I think that I think I really think once Amazon started talking about delivering packages with drones and all that hyperbole is sort of past us.

00:33:12.288 –> 00:33:25.058
So I don’t think people have to deal with that anymore, but they still do have to deal with the privacy issues that they’re the concerns, you know, folks have that, you know, we’re going to be spying on people and it’s just not,

00:33:25.338 –> 00:33:28.438
the reality, right? These are these really if you think about it.

00:33:29.042 –> 00:33:35.532
They said their surveillance tools, they’re really not surveillance. I mean, something stays in there for 20 minutes, 30. It’s not a surveillance tool.

00:33:35.542 –> 00:33:47.962
Um, you know, 400 ft above the sky. You see it, it’s just not but engaging the local governing bodies to explain what you’re doing and then, um, just setting out,

00:33:48.042 –> 00:33:51.602
a good policy, strong policy on when you’re going to use them.

00:33:51.602 –> 00:33:59.482
And that’s an individual decision by the agency. You know, what we’re going to use them for, we do not use them for crowd control, we we do not.

00:33:59.492 –> 00:34:03.982
Um, other agencies, you know, we will use them for crowd control.

00:34:03.992 –> 00:34:14.262
Obviously, you’re not supposed to fly over large groups of people, but you can offset and stuff like that, but that’s that’s a decision that our sheriff made and after.

00:34:14.842 –> 00:34:19.732
You know, when we initially talked to the hou about what we’re trying to do, um,

00:34:19.742 –> 00:34:30.052
I will say in the context of a crowd control situation if the life-threatening event were to occur, then we would use it, but we don’t use it for crowd monitoring.

00:34:30.442 –> 00:34:33.952
Um And I feel strongly about that. But other places do.

00:34:34.442 –> 00:34:42.152
If you’re a small department and you might have two or three or four people, that might be pilots under the heading of crawl-walk-run,

00:34:42.542 –> 00:34:49.762
would it be better for them just to start with part one of seven and get some experience before jumping into the COA?

00:34:50.342 –> 00:35:04.672
Well, I mean, I really think you could do both. I mean, I think you could you could do both uh simultaneously. I mean, you know, apply for the co while you’re you’re having your folks get get their apart one of seven training done.

00:35:04.682 –> 00:35:09.452
Um I don’t see I don’t see the harm to that. It’s really not.

00:35:09.842 –> 00:35:19.132
I mean, I remember when we first started playing for this coach, as it was a lot of work but you know when we have to renew these things, it’s really pretty straightforward.

00:35:19.142 –> 00:35:30.102
Um And and there’s templates out there on how to how to fill that out. We we used to help other agencies uh fulfill off the stuff for him just to help get them get them going.

00:35:30.112 –> 00:35:33.062
So I think you can do both personally.

00:35:33.442 –> 00:35:44.352
Well thank you so much for joining us today. Tom I appreciate your advice and you’re the sage uh person need people need to talk to and they need the straight facts.

00:35:44.362 –> 00:35:47.852
Thank you Steve for the opportunity to be a part of this.

00:35:47.862 –> 00:36:00.362
Um We believe strongly in the U. S. Technology and we want to be advocates for the technology because we we feel that it helps keep people in the fields safe and also members of the public. So thank you for the opportunity.

00:36:00.742 –> 00:36:05.822
Hi, this is Steve Rhode, your friendly chief pilot here at the public safety flight website.

00:36:06.012 –> 00:36:16.582
Be sure to visit to get in on my private email list, Read all the latest posts or ask me all of your public safety drone questions.

00:36:16.852 –> 00:36:19.162

00:36:19.442 –> 00:36:26.672
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