Drone Program

Mission Statement

The mission of the Salt Lake City Police Drone Program is it to provide airborne support to police operations in a safe, responsible, and transparent manner. We strive to reduce response times, deescalate dangerous situations and increase the quality of life for Salt Lake City residents and visitors.


Mission Statement

The mission of the Salt Lake City Police Drone Program is it to provide airborne support to police operations in a safe, responsible, and transparent manner. We strive to reduce response times, deescalate dangerous situations and increase the quality of life for Salt Lake City residents and visitors.


Our current fleet has a variety of aircraft with capabilities such as indoors flight, 3D models, spotlights, speakers, and thermal imaging. These tools help us document crimes scenes, find missing people and many other tasks


The Salt Lake City Police Drone Program officially began in the Summer of 2022. We conducted years of research into best practices, transparency models and privacy concerns prior to purchasing drones. After working with our community partners and creating policies that match the values of the Salt Lake City Police Department, we purchased drones to start our initial fleet.

The department presently has 26 pilots/officers who are licensed through the FAA.  These pilots work various schedules to maximize the availability of this valuable resource.

Police departments across the country have successfully used drones for nearly a decade. During this time, they have helped save lives, deescalate dangerous situations and increase efficiency. We created our program after carefully watching this emerging technology and discovering how we can use it in a manner that protects the privacy rights of our residents and guests.


The Salt Lake City Police Department reached out to various community stake holders before creating this formal program. Suggestions and concerns were taken seriously, and we are proud to say that our program design is structed in a way that addressed community questions and maximized ability.

At no point will we use an unmanned aircraft for random surveillance of any private property. We use drones to assist with police related operations where an unmanned aircraft can provide efficiency, safety.

Our department strives to maintain transparency and foster trust with the community. One step we are taking to facilitate transparency is creating a public facing dashboard of incidents where we have used an unmanned aircraft system. This dashboard will include a case number, approximate location, and a brief description of the event that prompted the need for an unmanned aircraft.  Additional details are available through the GRAMA request process which is easy to complete through this link. This flight dashboard will be available here soon.

Another step we are taking is providing a phone number and email where anyone who has questions or concerns can contact a member of the UAS Team. We are happy to talk with the community and help alleviate any concerns while also showing the value that unmanned aircraft systems provide.

We look froward to engaging with the community during public outreach events throughout the year. These opportunities to meet face to face with us are a great time to see the unmanned aircraft in operation as well as get to know the officers serving your community. We welcome you to join us at any of these events. Please check our website and media outreach for details on upcoming events.


Pilots in the Salt Lake City Police Drone Program are trained higher than the FAA minimum standards. Every officer involved in the program has a pilot license with a small unmanned aircraft rating or higher. This license is commonly known as the Part 107. It is the minimum standard required by the FAA for commercial use of an unmanned aircraft system.

In addition to the formal training needed to meet the FAA Part 107 licensing requirements, the Salt Lake City Police Department utilizes NIST UAS Testing as well as standards we created for common call types. NIST is formally known as the National Institute of Standards and Testing. They create standards for many industries including unmanned aircraft systems.

We require that every pilot maintain proficiency in operating each aircraft, understanding the National Airspace System, policy and current laws.  In addition, we conduct regular training to test skill levels and improve our ability to operate unmanned aircraft in a manner that maximizes safety and community trust.

Frequently Asked Questions

1What is a Drone?
The term drone is commonly used to describe an unmanned aircraft system (UAS) which are operated remotely by a pilot on the ground. A UAS often has four propellers and weighs less than 55 pounds. A UAS may have equipment attached such as a camera. The attachments are known as the payload.
2What does Salt Lake City Police do with the video and photos they gather from a UAS?
The video or photos captured by a UAS operated as part of a police related mission are subject to the same storage policy as body worn cameras are. The system we use is known as Evidence.com and pilots load their video and photo files into this secure system and tag the files with a case number.
3Who can access the video and photos taken by a UAS?
Any digital media obtained by the UAS Team is intended for investigations and prosecution. Digital media is subject to GRAMA (Government Records Management Act) and can be requested and released according to the same restrictions that body worn camera footage is subject to.
4How are the pilots in the SLCPD UAS Team trained?
All pilots in the SLCPD UAS program hold a current FAA Part 107 Remote Pilot License. In addition to this licensing, all pilots train to a high level of proficiency on a regular basis. This includes scenario based exercises and timed skill examinations.
5What types of calls does the SLCPD UAS Team respond to?

Typical calls that our team respond to are vehicle accidents with serious or fatal injuries, foot pursuits, crime scene reconstruction, missing children and adults, SWAT incidents, suspicious packages, and other life safety matters.

At no point does our UAS Team monitor peaceful protests or conduct random flights over private property for proactive purposes; all flights have a public safety nexus.

6How do I contact SLCPD to ask a question or make a complaint about the UAS Team?

We are happy to speak with anyone who has questions about our program and sincerely encourage this open dialog. There are many misconceptions about unmanned aircraft and with any new technology there are also many opportunities to improve and refine their use. Unmanned aircraft are no different and by continuing to partner with the community while remaining transparent, this program will constantly improve. Please feel free to contact us through email at uas@slcgov.com and a member of the team will get back to you.

If you wish to file a complaint about the UAS Team or a specific member of the team, you can contact our Internal Affairs Division through this link.