University of Arkansas at Fort Smith police are taking to the sky for their latest innovation — and they're bringing the university with them.

UAFS Police Chief Ray Ottman on Wednesday announced campus police will use drones in their operations for the 2019-20 school year. Their drone usage will afford the University opportunities to incorporate new technology into their education, he said.

"I'm pretty excited about it," Ottman said.

UAFS police are using drones as part of a regional goal for multiple law enforcement agencies to have drone operators, Ottman said. From this standpoint, he said, drones can provide perspective for large-scale events like vehicle pursuits and data analysis for events like car crashes.

From an educational standpoint, the drones can be implemented in UAFS' data analysis program, where they can be used to perform pertinent tasks such as documenting geographic coordinates and measurements from the air.

Ottman said he has already spoken with Cheryl May of the Criminal Justice Institute about implementing the drones into education at UAFS.

"They’re currently offering it in northwest Arkansas for the next class, but they are offering it in our location, because what we offer isn’t just operational," he said.

On campus, police plan to use the drones to survey and manage events like graduation day.

"Ground-level gives you one perspective, but if you get that upper-level, over-the-top visual on measurements, it’s like, 'Oh, wait. Now I see why we have a bottleneck at this point at graduation day at 10 o’clock in the morning. We need to cut that off and open up another entrance,'" Ottman said. "We’re excited about all of those applications."

While he is excited for the new technology on campus, Ottman said he anticipates legal challenges against using them at the university, particularly in light of concerns about voyeurism from hobbyists. Because of this, he and others on campus are trying to use the anticipated challenges to ensure they are using the drones legally.

"There’s a lot of these things we’re thinking ahead about so that if challenges might be there, we can say, 'Hey, let’s develop department policies and response team policies,'" he said.

Nonetheless, Ottman is overall excited to reap the benefits of the drones. He said one of his officers and the health safety manager have been certified to use them on campus.

"We’re really excited about the numerous applications of the drone program, and he is too," Ottman said about the certified officer on his force. "He’s taken to it really well."