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BY ZACH WILLIAMS | There is not much that local law enforcement can do regarding reports of small flying drones possibly taking peaks into Battery Park City residents’ high-rise windows.
Sergeant Phuchon Srisuro of the B.P.C. Parks Enforcement Patrol told Community Board 1 members on July 1 that there were two reports of unmanned drones flying near Rockefeller Park last month. Though his officers did not observe the incidents first-hand, there is currently little they can do except observe and question suspicious operators.
“It looks like that technology is more forward than the law now,” he told C.B.1’s Battery Park City Committee.
He added that discussions are ongoing with the N.Y.P.D First Precinct, which is examining current laws through its legal department regarding privately-operated unmanned drones. In a telephone interview with Downtown Express on July 2, Srisuro said that the exact size and model drones involved in the two complaints were unknown to him beyond it being “a flying object.”
The N.Y.P.D. First Precinct took reports of the incidents, Srisuro said. Representatives of the First Precinct did not respond for comment by press time.
Unmanned drones first gained public notice for military applications including missile strikes. However, more recently they have been sought for use by law enforcement, industry and private citizens. Compared with model aircraft, their technological sophistication permits higher altitudes, longer distances, greater autonomy from the operator and better digital add-ons such as cameras.
“Reckless” use of model aircraft and drones within populated areas are on the rise, according to the Federal Aviation Administration [F.A.A.] which announced on June 23 updates to its policy regarding private use of such technology.
“The F.A.A is also developing a plan to work with the law enforcement community to help them understand the F.A.A’s rules for unmanned aircraft systems, as well as the special statutory rules for model aircraft operators, so they can more effectively protect public safety,” reads a June 23 F.A.A. statement.
Public comment on the policies will be heard 30 from their publication in the Federal Register, the statement read. Members of the public can comment by calling 1-866-835-5322, option 4.