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Oklahoma Aeronautics Holds Drone School 101 for Law Enforcement

The public safety sector was called into class last week by the state Aeronautics Commission to decode Part 107 rules recently released by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).  The tutorial, taught by Grayson Ardies, who heads up the airport division for the Oklahoma Aeronautics Commission (OAC), explained how Part 107 rules now affect law enforcement entities across the state.

The reasoning behind Drone School 101 comes after OAC requested a bill through the offices of Senator Frank Simpson, (R) Ardmore and Representative Pat Ownbey, (R) Ardmore.  The southern Oklahoma duo is preparing legislation to foster growth in the emerging industry of Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS), and nearly every industry and public entity could be affected by the legislative outcome, yet they must balance that with the interests of property owners, communities and safety.

“Drone School 101 was held last month for the energy sector, and was a great success.  The Part 107 rules can be daunting for those without an aviation background.  We used the opportunity to get law enforcement up to federal code, so to speak, regarding unmanned vehicles. FAA does not currently have a robust enforcement division for drone infractions, so implementation will likely fall to local public safety officials,” said Victor Bird, director of OAC.

“Law enforcement agencies are the hands and feet of many statutory codes.  The professionals here today were good students and are interested in drone use for community betterment.  We want any language coming forth regarding UAS to be all-inclusive and industry stimulating while protecting privacy and safety for Oklahomans.  We need the input of public safety officers in our communities,” said Sandra Shelton, director of communications and government affairs for OAC.

The Oklahoma Municipal League hosted the event at their headquarters and director of government relations/membership services, Missy Dean said, “This is our second time to host Drone School 101. To have law enforcement officers from across the state, sitting shoulder to shoulder with lawmakers in our board room, is the reason our organization was founded in 1913.  We represent cities and towns, and there is no doubt they will be affected by drone legislation.  We were pleased to provide a venue for the discussion.”

Simpson attended the meeting and stated “This meeting held today is what I really wanted for this legislation.  It is so important that we get this right.  The introduction of effective unmanned aerial vehicle law is going to be a process though, and having public safety leaders here today to express their concerns was helpful in the bill process.”

Numerous entities were represented such as the Oklahoma Highway Patrol, Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics, Council on Law Enforcement Education and Training, Absentee Shawnee Tribal Police Department, Stephens County Sherriff’s Office, Bryan County EMS, Norman Emergency Management, University of Oklahoma Police Department, and the police departments from the cities of Ada, Durant, Norman, Oklahoma City, and Spencer among others.

“The public safety forum for Drone School 101 was tremendously educational. I appreciate the opportunity afforded to the Oklahoma Association of Chiefs of Police to have both insight and input into ground level legislation,” said David Houser representing the Oklahoma Association of Chiefs of Police.

UAS legislation is in the drafting process through Simpson’s office and the bill filing deadline for the Oklahoma State Senate is January 19.  For more information about FAA Part 107 visit their website at www.faa.gov/UAS.

Categories: News, Uncategorized
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