I'm a cop and need help making a drone, as well as some info

Hello all,

I am a Deputy Sheriff in TN and I want to make a drone I can use on duty, to search for people who run. I would like to use a small FLIR cam on it. Any advice?


I also hear alot about FAA this and FAA that, my question is why and how can FAA say anything at all?

When I was a kid I use to fly R/C model aircraft and FAA did say anything. Never heard anything, what's the diffrence??


                                  Thank You,

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Hi Will,

It's best one of the guys from the United States properly answers this and potentially give advice, but I will say that you're going to have an interesting time of it if you wanted to use it legally.

There was a blog created just recently which may help or at least start the understanding process.



Awesome thanks for the help,

Afraid thats above your pay grade...

And what might that be??

Im no legal expert, but i would imagine that a tactical change to operations and use of new equipment like this would require legal & headhoncho approval from the top of your police force. Something as delicate as this, and given the media attention about this, would mean you better ask those above as they wont appreciate initiative without their consent.

Man from the law questioning the FAA regulations. You as a single police officer can not and should not involve a sUAS. As a matter of fact that would be breaking the law! Look at spending 20k and more and there being more involved then you think,

Im not looking into braking the law, Im looking for advise and a tool to help me at work. the other night I spent 3 hours in the woods looking for someone that ran on felony charges. we found him but it took a long time and resorces. If I had something like this it would have taken no time at all. as far as I figure (and im no expert) FLIR cam 6K-9K and a drone around lets say 800.00

How are you pulling a figure of 20K??  

You got a lot more reading and google searches infront of you. Do us a favor this industry already has a bad rap, dont let me find you on the news.For someone protecting the PEOPLE risking there lives with an un airworthy and tested ship with capable and thought out operational standards in place. Would be doing more danger then good.

Thats why I came here, I need info and help. I have only been doing some homework for a few days. Im not trying to put anyone in risk or anything like that. Try and put your self in my shoes,

And just so everyone knows I have taken this idea up the chain of command, and my department would like to see what I can come up with.

Will, you may want to spend some time reading these categorized news items. Particularly the items related to the FAA. Also see the Emergency category on sUAS News


I too am no legal expert - get your county DA to look into this issue. Here in South Carolina legislation was pending at the state level to require a search warrant before agencies can use UAV technology. What you propose is during the line of duty or in pursuit of a fleeing suspect. A search warrant would probably not have been issued in that case.  HERE is the pending SC legislation.

At this time, the FAA issue is in regards to professional use (that includes Law Enforcement) of this new technology. There is no coded prohibition but the Feds are taking this as "it is prohibited until we say when/what is OK". The FAA (Feds) can give special permission (a COA) for agencies to test/use  the tech...but it is very rare to get one.

Now, this does not mean that:

  • Your department cannot purchase the technology - buy all you want
  • Your department cannot take training on using the technology - practice all you want
  • Run simulations with other agencies on the use of the technology - collaborate all you want

It does mean you cannot use the technology in the line of duty (yet) and for admissible evidence (as the pending SC legislation). Again, get you department heads to consult with your county and state DA on the subject. You wouldn't want to catch the perp just to have to let him/her loose due to misused technology.

Here is a safe suggestion for now: Look into night vision gear for fleeing suspects in the woods. I am not aware of any restrictions to law enforcement use of this technology.


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