Essex County College and FlexRight Solutions™ will offer Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS, or better known as “drones”) training to public safety professionals starting in February. Classes will be offered at the College’s Newark campus, through the Division of Community & Continuing Education, beginning Tuesday, February 23.


As drone technology becomes more accessible for commercial and private use, safe and legal flight operations will be a necessity. The Essex program offered through FlexRight is the only accredited UAS public safety certification program in the state that is also recognized by leading aviation insurance providers.


The Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International, supported by the U.S. Department of Labor, forecasts that the drone industry will create more than 100,000 new jobs within the first 10 years UAVs enter into the commercial marketplace.


Public safety professionals who take the course will receive college credits from Essex, a certificate of completion, a drone aircraft and all applicable resources for the program. Dr. Elvy Vieira, Acting Dean of Community & Continuing Education/West Essex Campus, said students not yet in law enforcement, upon completion, will be able to market themselves to police agencies, municipalities, and for other public and private sector positions in the growing field of UAS.


Essex County College President Dr. Gale E. Gibson said “the collaboration with FlexRight is into two of the College’s Strategic Directions, that of Collaborative Partnerships with the Community, and Implementation of State of the Art Technology.  She added that the many uses of drones are important options to help decrease crime, improve efficiency, ensure professionalism, effectiveness, and improve officer and civilian safety, resulting in overall improvement in our communities.”


“For current and future drone companies to be successful, every pilot has to fly safely and by the rules. The public safety program at Essex County College will help give the region an edge over future regional operators,” said FlexRight Solutions™ Founder/CEO Damian D. “Skipper” Pitts.  The company donated to the College a complete Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS), worth $75,000, to the College last summer. Two of the drones are equipped with such high-tech features as thermal imaging and spotlights.


“Public safety professionals will learn a variety of relevant topics from search & rescue, crime scenes, disaster response, infrastructure inspection and aeronautical decision-making. Labs will feature unmanned aircraft simulators and systems equipped with hi-powered cameras and other technology resources for training aids,” said Pitts.


He noted that law enforcement officials already understand how UAS can help provide scene footage in advance when law enforcement is heading into a hazardous situation. They are evolving to the point where they can serve as everyday tools. Drones would help law enforcement see areas they couldn’t otherwise see because of blockages. They can be used in accident situations allowing officers to see the whole scene from the sky, providing an effective vantage point quickly in order for the officers to be able to release the scene faster to get the roads back open. Drones can also cover a lot more ground than boats or people in search and rescue situations.


For more information about the UAS flight training instruction at Essex County College or to register, contact Dr. Elvy Vieira via email at



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