Course Description

Can drones – either aerial or ground-based – serve as a de-escalation tool?  Communities and courts are making ever-greater demands that law enforcement officers exercise all available options before resorting to use of force and demanding that officers find ways of resolving dangerous and volatile situations without the use of force also reduces risk of officer injuries and deaths.  Remotely piloted or driven vehicles with mounted cameras and listening devices can be used to locate, isolate and communicate with potentially dangerous individuals from a safe distance, while avoiding the necessity of placing a human or K-9 officer in the line of fire.   

Small, inexpensive drones offer law enforcement agencies a tremendous opportunity to leverage technology in a way that enhances agency operations and improves officer and public safety.  There are multiple benefits to utilizing drones, but one crucial benefit that should not be overlooked is their benefit to the goal of de-escalating volatile and potential deadly interactions between law enforcement officers and those they encounter in the field. 

As commander of the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department’s Aviation Unit, Sgt. Ron Shelnutt has firsthand experience in the ways in which drones can and have been utilized as a de-escalation tool that can save lives.  In this webinar, Sgt. Shelnutt will discuss the strategies that his agency and others across the country have utilized in leveraging this exciting new technology to enhance situational awareness and decision-making for officers on the ground.  

In this webinar, topics covered will include:

  • Utilizing drones to maximize time and distance in potentially dangerous police operations ranging from K-9 to SWAT to patrol
  • Recognizing the value of garnering real-time intelligence from above
  • Utilizing drones as a “force multiplier” in the face of an officer shortage
  • Considering the potential for drones to assist in foot pursuits and vehicular pursuits of suspects in a way that enhances officer safety and public safety



Ron Shelnutt

Sergeant Ron Shelnutt has served in Law Enforcement for 32 years, starting as a special deputy in 1991 for the Marion County Sheriff’s Department in Indiana. In 2018 Sgt. Shelnutt was named the Administration Officer of the Year and in 2023 was named Officer of the Year for the Indianapolis Metro Police. He has twice been awarded the Medal of Valor and in 2016 received an Emmy Award for his work with drones on TV. Sgt. Shelnutt spent 16 years in K9 before he started the drone program in 2018 for the IMPD. In 2022 Sgt. Shelnutt was named the Commander of the IMPD Aviation Unit.

Course curriculum

  • 1

    Before You Start

    • Consent Questions

    • Webinar Handout

  • 2


    • Drones as a De-Escalation Tool for Law Enforcement | Hour 1

    • Drones as a De-Escalation Tool for Law Enforcement | Hour 2