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Public Opinion Still Split About Use Of Drones


Republicans and Democrats have something new to disagree about – drones.

One UNLV Center for Crime and Justice Policy survey finds that Republicans are more supportive of drones being used to patrol our nation’s borders, while more Democrats approve of their use in mapping climate change and news coverage.

Another survey from the same institution finds that 93 percent of the U.S. public is opposed to drones being used to monitoring people’s activities around their homes.The same majority, however, supports drone usage for search and rescue operations.

The UNLV Center for Crime and Justice Policy recently issued results from two national web surveys assessing public attitudes toward the activities of unmanned aerial systems (UAS), commonly known as drones, and their use in domestic surveillance programs.

The surveys are part of the center’s “Research in Brief” series and are designed to measure public attitudes on the emerging technology as UAS usage continues to take off in Nevada and across the country.

In January, the Federal Aviation Administration designated Nevada as one of six locations for UAS testing and development. The surveys reveal that attitudes toward UAS are complex and strongly influenced by various factors, including how and where they are used and who is using them.

“UAS use will be widespread in the near future, so it is critical to develop well-conceived policy and laws to govern the use of this technology,” said Joel Lieberman, professor and chair of the UNLV criminal justice department and co-author on the reports. “We are conducting this work to provide a strong foundation, grounded in social science research, to create relevant laws and policy decisions that will lead to a more effective implementation of UAS into society.”


Joel Lieberman, professor and chair of the UNLV criminal justice department

Terry Miethe, professor in UNLV's criminal justice department.
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