Public Safety Organizations in Major Cities Join Together to Make Drone Programs Work

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Drones have many significant benefits for public safety organizations.  They provide a means of keeping police and firefighters out of harm’s way in certain circumstances – and they hold many benefits for the citizens that first responders serve.

Public safety organizations face significant hurdles in getting drone programs off the ground, however.  With funding needs, training, regulations and aerial asset management all playing a role, it’s difficult for many agencies to find the help they need on top of their already heavy workloads.  In an impressive model of cooperation, public safety agencies from major cities have joined together to collaborate and leverage resources that can enable them to expand drone operations for the benefit of their forces and their communities.

The follwoing is a DRONERESPONDERS press release.

NEW YORK – The DRONERESPONDERS Major Cities Working Group was formed by representatives from public safety agencies FDNY, LAFD and NYPD with support from non-profit organizations AIRT, AUVSI, DRONERESPONDERS, and NPPA during the Drone Journalism Leadership Summit at CUNY November 13, 2019. Photo by AIRT.

NEW YORK –DRONERESPONDERS – the world’s fastest growing non-profit program supporting public safety UAS – announced the formation of the DRONERESPONDERS Major Cities Working Group designed to unite and assist public safety agencies operating unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) in urban and large metropolitan areas.

Formalized at the Drone Journalism Leadership Summit held November 13 at the City University of New York (CUNY), charter members of the Major Cities Working Group include representatives from the Fire Department of New York (FDNY), the Los Angeles Fire Department (LAFD), the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD), and the New York Police Department (NYPD).

Captain Michael Leo, FDNY, Battalion Chief Richard Fields, LAFD, Anthony DeMolina, sUAS program manager, LAPD, and Detective Deepu John, NYPD, have accepted appointments on the leadership council for the DRONERESPONDERS Major Cities Working Group.  They will work directly with DRONERESPONDERS to establish communications with other public safety agencies intent on conducting UAS operations in dense population centers and large metropolitan areas.

“Operating UAS in large urban cities presents a unique set of challenges for public safety agencies,” says Fields.  “The Major Cities Working Group will allow larger police and fire departments to work more closely with one another, while also partnering with leading non-profit organizations like AIRT, AUVSI, and NPPA to help identify potential solutions to the complex issues we face.”

The Major Cities Working Group will be administered by DRONERESPONDERS, with additional non-profit organizational support provided by the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) and the National Press Photographers Association (NPPA).  AIRT, AUVSIand NPPAwill facilitate coordination between public safety agencies, news media organizations, non-governmental organizations, and the unmanned systems industry as needed.

The working group committee of the whole will gather in person at the DRONERESPONDERS Major Cities Meeting during the Global Public Safety UAS Summitfrom May 4-7 at AUVSI’s XPONENTIAL 2020in Boston.  The group will also meet at least quarterly via web conference. As membership expands and mission requirements evolve, subgroups will be formed to tackle specific issues facing members.

“The DRONERESPONDERS Major Cities Working Group will help insure that large public safety departments have a collective voice in the development of new training and certification standards surrounding the use of drones by first responders,” says Charles Werner, director of the DRONERESPONDERS program and retired fire chief.

“As we work towards establish formal standards surrounding public safety drone operations, we must ensure the unique needs and requirements of large cities are accurately represented,” adds John.  “The DRONERESPONDERS Major Cities Working Group will provide a forum for big city departments to have our voices heard, while also fostering direct communications between major UAS programs in different regions.”

Membership in the DRONERESPONDERS Major Cities Working Group is complimentary and open to representatives from public safety agencies and jurisdictions representing the world’s largest cities and metropolitan areas with a population of 500,000 or greater.  To request membership in the DRONERESPONDERS Major Cities Working Group, please email [email protected]or visit



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