Authorize competitive solicitation and purchase of unmanned aircraft systems for use by Portland Police Bureau not to exceed $80,000


The City of Portland ordains:

Section 1.  The Council finds:

  1. Unmanned aerial systems (UAS), also known as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) or drones, are small aircraft without a human pilot onboard which are remotely controlled by an operator or programmed to fly autonomously, and powered by electrically or by small internal combustion engine, or other hybrid fuel sources.  Most UAS have integrated camera or other sensors to gather important information while in flight.  UAS has been used since 1990’s for public missions such as firefighting, disaster relief, search and rescue, law enforcement, scientific research, testing and evaluation, surveying and other government operational uses.
  2. PPB is interested in UAS with the ability to capture images for use in mapping and measuring localized areas, such as traffic accident scenes.
  3. PPB’s current crash scene capture equipment, called a FARO system, is used for processing crime scenes and traffic crash scenes.  It uses a tall tripod-held camera that provides photography of a crash scene, combining the camera information with existing satellite photography of the area. The FARO system’s programs and equipment used to map scenes are slow and provide low resolution output.  PPB is looking for short-range options better suited to PPB’s operational needs. Portland Police Bureau (PPB) has one UAV, a DJI Phantom 4 Pro purchased in FY 2019-20, as a replacement for its current traffic scene capture system.  However, it has not yet been deployed for use.
  4. PPB is interested in acquiring up to twelve UAS with more current advanced technological specifications to capture high-resolution images with greater rapidity and capability for use in mapping and measuring localized areas in traffic accident scenes, crime scenes and other operational purposes.
  5. PPB is also interested in deploying the UAS to augment human resources during critical incidents to provide information about safety concerns, such as with a hostage situation, and to use to deescalate in-progress situations.
  6. Pursuant to Resolution 37608, PPB has or will work with the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability (BPS) and Office of Equity and Human Rights (OEHR) on the use of the UAS’s video feature and capability to ensure conformance with the City’s policy goals on technology and equipment that may be usable in surveillance.
  7. PPB will provide the Office of Management and Finance’s Procurement Services Division specifications for scoping the equipment need in line with Procurement Code 5.33 and will use the City Procurement Code 5.33 in solicitation, evaluation and purchase of system components.
  8. Pursuant to Council Resolution 37520, UAS is a controlled equipment that requires Council approval for purchase.
  9. Sufficient funding resides within the PPB's current appropriations to cover the cost of the requested equipment purchases.

NOW, THEREFORE, the Council directs:

  1. PPB is directed to collaborate with BPS and OEHR pursuant to Resolution 37608 on the proposed requisition use of the UAS.
  2. The Chief Procurement Officer is authorized to work with the PPB to develop the procurement specifications for the UAS and associated equipment necessary for PPB’s use, and to execute one or more contracts or purchase orders for UAV/UAS in accordance with City Procurement Code, provided any contracts are approved as to form by the City Attorney's Office.
  3. The Mayor and City Auditor are hereby authorized to pay for the purchase of the UAS components from the Police FY 2022-23 budget.

An ordinance when passed by the Council shall be signed by the Auditor. It shall be carefully filed and preserved in the custody of the Auditor (City Charter Chapter 2 Article 1 Section 2-122)

Passed by Council

Auditor of the City of Portland
Simone Rede

Impact Statement

Purpose of Proposed Legislation and Background Information

Unmanned aerial systems (UAS) can be used to give a high quality, overhead view of areas where traffic accidents have occurred or where crimes have potentially impacted a community.

They can be used to efficiently document scenes and are an alternative to ground-level, time-consuming, personnel-heavy processes. With unmanned aerial systems, agencies can safely map potential crime scenes, surveille active crimes in progress, and investigate traffic accident scenes within a third of the time of ground-level investigations.

The Police Bureau (PPB) understands that large crime scenes, especially those that affect traffic flow, can have a devastating effect on the community.  Closures due to police activity impact communities monetarily, and can be invasive and anxiety-inducing.  Portland Police Bureau would like to implement a pilot project to introduce UAS into their investigative processes.

PPB has attempted to use UAS in their traffic investigations in the past, especially in their Major Crash Scene investigations, but timing and personnel losses put the project on hold until appropriate procedures and staffing were in place.  Standard Operating Procedures have been created with safety, security, and respect for privacy in mind.  The UAS will not be used for mass surveillance, or for targeting individuals based on individual characteristics such as race.  Harassment and crowd management are expressly prohibited.

An unmanned aerial system will allow the PPB to quickly and effectively document scenes and provide evidence for crime, giving the bureau a tool that can deescalate tense situations, inform law enforcement investigations and decisions, and potentially save lives.

Financial and Budgetary Impacts

The Police Bureau has available dollars in its current budget appropriations to cover the costs of this pilot project.  The initial outlay of $80,000 is for equipment necessary to start the project.  Future outlays of funding will depend on the success of the pilot, and will be accounted for in future fiscal years’ budgeted appropriations.

This pilot does not increase staffing levels; it uses current FTE to provide piloting and law enforcement services.  It does potentially decrease investigative costs, as a UAS will allow fewer officers to process a crime scene in a shorter timeframe.

The pilot project will potentially create intergovernmental agreements to allow for training in using the UAS systems for law enforcement purposes.

Community Impacts and Community Involvement

Statistics on neighborhoods, type of crimes, and flight time will be placed on our PPB website, along with the UAS standard operating procedure (SOP), as well as information on the equipment in use.  The information will be updated periodically to allow maximum visibility.

Safe Cities PDX has reviewed the program for privacy and safety concerns and determined that this program only presents a medium risk.

100% Renewable Goal

The unmanned vehicles that the Bureau plans to purchase are battery operated; the batteries are rechargeable and will be the latest in battery technology.  These are zero-emission vehicles.

Budget Office Financial Impact Analysis

The Police Bureau will use existing resources in their current year budget to cover the initial one-time costs of $80,000 for the equipment to start the pilot project. According to the bureau, the ongoing costs for the equipment will depend on the final technical specifications of the program equipment.

Agenda Items

241 Regular Agenda in March 22, 2023 Council Agenda

Passed to second reading

Passed to second reading April 5, 2023 at 9:30 a.m.

267 Regular Agenda in April 5, 2023 Council Agenda


  • Commissioner Dan Ryan Yea
  • Commissioner Rene Gonzalez Yea
  • Commissioner Mingus Mapps Yea
  • Commissioner Carmen Rubio Yea
  • Mayor Ted Wheeler Yea

Introduced by


Requested Agenda Type


Date and Time Information

Requested Council Date