July 20, 2017 — Clarksville, NY
The Albany County Sheriff Department’s Drone Unit commanded by Inspector Lee Bormann hosted Colonel Anthony Basile, USAF (retired), Director of Operations, NUAIR Alliance to evaluate the department’s sUAS (small unmanned aircraft systems) program. The evaluation was observed by the Senior Policy Advisor and members of The NYS Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services (DHSES) policy division and the Director of National Center for Security & Preparedness.
We invited NUAIR to come in and conduct an evaluation and review of our UAS program and provide us with some guidance as to how we can improve the program to better serve Albany County. We do this and offer this transparency because we are committed to developing the UAS program the right way, to follow all the rules and regulations and hopefully set an example that can be followed by other public safety agencies said Inspector Bormann.
The NUAIR Alliance is a NY based not for profit coalition of more than 100 public, private and academic entities working together to oversee UAS test ranges located in New York, Massachusetts and Michigan. NUAIR is based at Griffiss International Airport in Rome, NY. One of NUAIR’s current missions is the deployment a ground based sense and avoid system, which can detect and track drones of all sizes within a given airspace. Sense and avoid systems are crucial to future applications such as package delivery via drones. NUAIR is one of seven such sites working to advance drone applications by creating a safe environment for all aircraft, including drones, to operate in. Another mission of NUAIR’s is to act as a third party independent review board assessing and evaluating State and Law Enforcement Agencies’ UAS programs. NUAIR also provides flight readiness review and assistance with navigating through the FAA Certificate of Authorization (COA) process. Upon a successful completion pilots will be certified under the entities FAA Certificate of Authorization (COA ) receiving COA Mission Commander rating.
The FAA openly admits that a Jurisdictional Certificate of Authorization (COA) is a very complex and daunting process. In order for us to best serve and protect our community we felt a COA is a necessity. The COA provides us with more operational capabilities such as nighttime operations which are currently prohibited. Without Tony’s assistance we would still be struggling through COA the process said Inspector Bormann.
In a letter to Sheriff Apple, Colonel Basile, former commander of the 174th fighter wing as well as an A-10 and F-16 fighter pilot with over 4000 hours, had this say about the department’s program.
“As a 30+ year USAF pilot and former Wing Commander, and currently director of all flying activity at the UASTS, I feel I’m a fair judge of organizational UAS programs. I have helped NY DEC, NYS Police, Syracuse City Fire Department, and your office get their programs started. I have to tell you, that despite Lee’s lack of aviation background, his program is very well thought out…literally the best program I have worked with so far. My recommendations yesterday were really ‘technique only’ comments. It is obvious that your department has chosen to do this the right way…a refreshing approach, even amongst some LEA organizations within the state. The layered training of your pilots and the thoroughness of your CONOP will stand up to scrutiny should an incident occur.” Colonel Tony Basile.
The Albany County Sheriff’s Drone Unit was commissioned in January of 2017. Currently the Drone Unit consists of six members.
- Lee Bormann, Commander — Inspector, Albany County Sheriff Office
- Joseph Guice, Pilot – Deputy Sheriff, Albany County Sheriff Office
- Vincent Nischo, Pilot – Sergeant, Albany County Sheriff Office
- Gerald Paris, Safety Officer — Chief, Albany County Fire Coordinator
- Steve Disick, Pilot — Lieutenant, Albany Fire Department
- Edward Capovani, Pilot – In Sky Aerial Services