B. Eldridge


The amount of drones currently entering the airspace has created an unprecedented demand for a technically skilled drone and UAV (unmanned aerial vehicles) workforce across the full complement of blue light service providers. This creates a problem for law enforcement that is too large for any of the major stakeholders to address alone. This paper will discuss how collaboration between governmental agencies, higher education, and industry is being utilized to deliver innovative, highly focused, and timely training on drone and UAV operation and management for pre-service and in-service blue light professionals.


The Importance of Building Drone and UAV Training Now

With the cost of building a small UAV less than $300USD, the criminally-minded are already leveraging this emerging technology to facilitate drug dealing, human trafficking, dropping weapons and drugs into prison yards, and other nefarious activities in a manner that leaves little or no forensic evidence. Without the required skills and knowledge to both utilize drones and UAVs to fight these types of activities and to build strategic counter measures, law enforcement faces a serious and steeply growing disadvantage.

Building on Prior Successful Collaborations

Beginning in late 2013, the state government, a regional university, and private industry collaborated to deliver an 11-week basic mandate training for all state blue light services including police officers, jail officers, dispatchers, and firefighters. This new offering provided participants successfully completing the program 25 hours of college credit through a co-location and co-enrollment agreement between the state-run public safety training center and the regional university.

This critical experience introduced best practices, lessons learned, and many other efficiencies that allowed for a rapid and agile deployment of drone and UAV training that met enrollment, compliance, accreditation, professional development, and financial aid requirements in a fraction of the time spent on these tasks during the initial collaboration.


Initial Digital Badges and Nano-degree Development

The categories for initial training offerings were broken down into two basic domains of content:
• Unmanned Aerial Offensive Measures – using drones and UAVs as supplemental tools in the execution of law enforcement and public safety including surveillance, sensor-driven drug detection, and crowd control.
• Unmanned Aerial Defensive Measures – detecting, monitoring, and eliminating the criminal use of drones and UAVs with counter-measures and strategies including radar and other motion detection technologies, safe aerial vehicle neutralization technologies and techniques, and telemetry capture tools for flight pattern recognition and prediction.

Digital badges were created for each of the uique topics within both of the domains. When participants complete 80% of the topics in one of the domain areas, they are directed to complete and applied project for that domain which leads to a nano-degree in that area.


The knowledge and competencies produced by the blue light drone and UAV training programs are applicable in other growing areas for the same technology in the state including precision agriculture and the film industry. After the pilot program has been completed, selected offerings from the curriculum will be modified and tailored to the unique needs of both of these industries.