Friday, May 22, 2015

Department of Justice Establishes Policy Guidance on Domestic Use of Unmanned Aircraft Systems

The Department of Justice issued agency-wide policy guidance today on the use of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) that sets standards of use and management controls of UAS by the department and its components.

UAS are used at times by law enforcement agencies as cost-effective, efficient and potentially life-saving tools to support public safety efforts.  The policy highlights protections of privacy, civil rights and liberties and makes clear that UAS use must be consistent with the protections afforded by the U.S. Constitution.  Justice Department components are barred from using UAS solely for the purpose of monitoring activities protected by the First Amendment, and components can only operate UAS on properly authorized investigations and activities.  The collection, retention and dissemination of information collected by UAS is also subject to Privacy Act protections.

To ensure accountability, the department will also require that personnel operating UAS are appropriately trained and supervised, including but not limited to a mandatory training on the department’s policies.  Annual privacy reviews will be conducted to ensure compliance with the department policy, existing laws and regulations and to identify potential privacy risks.

The guidance issued today is a result of various discussions and research – and meetings will continue to be held at least twice a year to ensure that the department strikes the appropriate balance between its law enforcement and national security missions and respect for civil rights and civil liberties.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Local Police Departments, 2013: Personnel, Policies and Practices

This report from the Bureau of Justice Statistics presents findings on local police departments by population served in 2013, including comparisons with previous surveys dating back to 1987. The report examines trends in the composition of local police officers by sex, race and ethnicity. In 2013, the percentage of police officers who were members of racial or ethnic minority groups was nearly double that of the late 1980s. Data on the representation of female officers in local police supervisory positions are presented for the first time. It also covers the use of community policing strategies, specialized units and task forces to address crime-related problems. Data are from the 2013Law Enforcement Management and Administrative Statistics survey. To access the report, see

BJA Launches the Body-Worn Camera Toolkit

The Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) has released the Body-Worn Camera Toolkit, an online clearinghouse of resources designed to support law enforcement professionals plan and implement body-worn camera programs. This free resource consolidates and translates the growing body of knowledge about body-worn camera programs and technology. In direct response to the President's Task Force on 21st Century Policing, BJA developed the toolkit to assist law enforcement agencies to implement body-worn camera programs in a way that builds on the best research currently available, with input from criminal justice and community stakeholders.
The website's features includes information, templates and tools focused on model policies and procedures, privacy considerations, lessons learned for implementation, and training needs. For more information, visit the Body-Worn Camera Toolkit at or email