Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS) Program

Executive Summary

The Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS) Program is used by the RCMP to capture aerial images and videos in support of RCMP operations. A RPAS is a power-driven aircraft where its components, such as a camera, are operated without a flight crew member on board. It is also commonly referred to as a drone, Small Unmanned Aircraft (SUA), Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV), and Unmanned Aerial System (UAS). The RCMP currently operates several different systems that carry both still and video cameras, infrared cameras or thermal imagery. When in operation, the RPAS is flown by a pilot remotely, while a payload operator is responsible to capture any images and video.

The RPAS program started in Saskatchewan in January 2010 with one RPAS used for collision reconstruction. RPAS have since advanced RCMP operations in the areas of crime scene investigation, forensic collision reconstruction, search and rescue, monitoring critical incidents, Emergency Response Team (ERT), border integrity, VIP events, surveillance and researching RPA countermeasures. The RCMP does not use RPAS to perform widespread surveillance under normal circumstances. RPAS are used for surveillance purposes only with prior judicial authorization, or where urgent or exigent circumstances make it impractical to first obtain a search warrant. The RCMP currently operates several different systems that carry both still and video cameras, infrared cameras or thermal imagery. Additional payloads such as magnetometers, hyperspectral imaging, and LASER/LIDAR technology are also being examined. These advances contribute to the success of the RCMP's mission of preserving the peace, upholding the law and providing quality service in partnership with our communities. The RPAS Program is designed to add value to evidence gathered during an investigation and should not be relied on as the sole source of evidence.

All information obtained via RPAS is manually transferred from an SD card to a workstation in a secured RCMP building. Following the transfer of information to the workstation, it is deemed either evidentiary, administrative, or transitory in nature. Evidentiary information is passed to the lead investigator of an occurrence (event) and associated to it through the RCMP Operational Records Management Systems (O/RMS) called Police Reporting and Occurrence System (PROS). Evidentiary information is retained by the RCMP for a minimum of two years and until it no longer has business value, at which point it will be destroyed or made anonymous if kept only for statistical and research purposes. Administrative and transitory information is retained for a predetermined period of time before being disposed of.

RPAS strengthen the RCMP's ability to achieve its mandate of preventing and investigating crime; maintaining peace and order; enforcing laws; contributing to national security; ensuring the safety of state officials and visiting dignitaries; and providing vital operational support services to other police and law enforcement agencies within Canada. RPAS are able to provide an overhead view on a scene to support RCMP members, helping the RCMP provide the highest quality service.

The RCMP is committed to safeguarding personal information collected and continuously reviews its policies and procedures to ensure compliance to federal legislation.

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