TYLER, TX (KLTV) - The Tyler Police Department is considering adding a new officer to the force – but this one will have propellers and batteries.
The department is seeking to establish an unmanned aircraft program to "enhance its aerial photography, search and rescue, tactical, and disaster response capabilities," according to a Tyler City Council agenda.
The first step in the process is the decision to hold a public hearing for residents to provide feedback about the police department establishing this type of program. The council is expected to set a date for that hearing during Wednesday's regular city council meeting.
To implement a drone program, the department would also need to apply for a waiver from the Federal Aviation Administration. Typically, drone users are limited by FAA law to "uncontrolled" airspace, but a waiver is available to allow flights in controlled air spaces, such as near an airport.
"As a governmental agency, the Police Department must comply with FAA requirements that the average citizen does not. The department has chosen to apply with the FAA for a certificate of authorization to operate its program as a public aircraft operation," said Russell Jacks, Tyler police assistant chief.
Per FAA rules, pilots need to complete at least 10 hours of training to become a certified drone pilot.
Jacks said "a group of officers" will be licensed through the FAA and will be trained on the operation and maintenance of the drones.
Tyler City Council meets at 9:30 am on Wednesday, in the council chambers at 212 North Bonner.