Police Eye Anti-Drone Weapons As Solution To Drone Issues

Lawmakers are considering ways to make drones less of a problem for first responders.

Washington, DC - Federal law enforcement are looking at anti-drone weapons to take down the machines causing trouble at crime scenes.

Unfortunately, while he technology to remove a drone from a scene exists, the laws which would permit officers to take that step do not.

Police told Fox News that there are limited rules where people can fly drones as a hobby, but they're not enough for real-life, daily situations because they're unenforceable.

They said that it is almost impossible to tell the difference between negligent operators, criminals, and potential terrorists, giving the latter the upper hand against those responsible for protecting the public.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) released an updated terrorism advisory bulletin on Nov. 9 warning American citizens of the real possibility of terrorists using weaponized drones as a way to attack commercial aircraft in America.

Sergeant Randy Sterett, Bomb Squad Commander for the Orange County (California) Sheriff's Office, said that the threat is real, according to U.S. News & World Report.

“Some of these drones can fly anywhere from one to 15 pounds of explosives, which is a huge, huge amount of explosives,” Sgt. Sterett said.

"There's been the SWAT operation going on and a UAV [drone] driving—flying—right into the front yard and watching as they're approaching the house, putting their safety and the safety of those who are in the community at risk," he said.

Other first responders, particularly firefighters, have had to shut down operations because of unauthorized drones. They can damage an aircraft or even take an aircraft out of the air, according to Ronald Walls, assistant chief for the San Bernardino Fire Department.

In 2016, there were more than 40 reported incidents of drones flying near wildfires.

In fact, drones were blamed for nearly two dozen vehicles being torched on a major highway in San Bernardino during California's 2015 North Fire.

Asst. Chief Walls said that air operations had to be shut down because of drones, meaning rescue aircraft couldn’t continue to drop water on the fire. He said those vehicles probably wouldn’t have caught fire if there hadn’t been drones in the area.

There is a way to remove a problem drone from the air above a police or fire scene.

One technology group, IXI Technology, has invented the “Drone-Killer,” a device that looks like a large plastic gun.

It sends radio signals to the drone and forces it to go back to where it came from. If that doesn't work, the device can jam a drone's GPS signals and force it to land.

The “Drone-Killer" would be an effective tool for police officers and firefighters, but at this time it cannot be used without special authorization.

Only three states - California, Louisiana, and Utah - have laws that allow first responders to disable drones, and they mostly apply to firefighters when they're fighting fires, according to ARS Technica.

A bi-partisan bill, the Drone Federalism Act of 2017, has been introduced by U.S. Senator Mike Lee (R-Utah) and other lawmakers.

The bill would give local governments the ability to regulate drones flying below 200 feet. It would allow local laws to be passed that make those low-flying drones a trespassing offense.

“I want to make sure that, at least within 200 feet of the surface, state and local law enforcement officers, state and local governments, have authority to protect public safety and to protect the privacy of members of the public from any invasion that might come as a result of drones,” Lee said.

Recreational drones are allowed to fly up to 400 feet above the surface. The proposed law would still leave the area between 200 and 400 feet above the ground unregulated on a local level.

Authorities said another problem is that it's almost impossible to track down a drone’s owners. Drone owners who use them for hobbies are not required to register the tail number, unlike manned aircraft.

Sgt. Sterett said that there needs to be more accountability.

“We’ve had [drones] surveilling police headquarters, and breaching security at local jails," he said.

Do you think that drones are going to continue to develop into a major threat? We'd like to hear from you. Please let us know in the comments.

Why don't police use drones, they would be great for things like protests where they could survey the protesters for signs of rioting, maybe even drones that could drop a canister of teargas or something into the middle of a crowd. They could be used to follow a fleeing suspect with the chance of them not knowing. Or maybe these tactics are already being used and I'm just unaware :p

There are many law enforcement agencies already using drones for a variety of tasks. Everything from high risk surveillance to search and rescue. There is already legislation governing law enforcement's use of drones and search warrant requirements etc.. On the books. It is not a perfect solution but just another tool we can use.

(edited)

So drones are cool! It's interesting to see what's going on in the neighborhood. But, they are also very evasive! I think they should be highly regulated.. There was one case I read when a neighbor was hovering over a yard with two teenage girls sunbathing. That neighbor would consistently fly his drone over that yard. That is pretty much bordering on stalking. The father finally shot the drone down because the neighbor would not stop his actions. The father is the one that ended up being arrested and brought to court. That really doesn't make much sense.

If a person flying a drone is going to cause problems, such as stalking, keeping First Responders from performing their jobs and basically causing terroristic threats, then something does need to be done.

It's really great that we live in the United States of America and we have so many freedoms! And yes, I do enjoy my freedoms!! But, there has to be some limitations. It is just totally getting out of hand. A lot of people think that they have it so bad in the United States of America, but in other countries this kind of action would not be tolerated. Maybe it's time we take some lessons from other countries. Freedom is great, but it should never infringe upon other people or the safety of the citizens of the United States of America!!

Flying 'over a yard' pretty much guarantees that the operator has no interest in that yard. Being directly above a subject is a horrible angle. Beyond 20-50 feet, you cannot see any detail so really there is no 'spying' involved. Doesn't make much sense? 18 USC 32, there is your sense. Hint: It is a felony.

I have many friends in law enforcement. I am also an FAA certified drone pilot. They welcome me flying around my town doing my job as I am no threat to them. In fact they are interested in learning and getting one of their own. Stories like this do nothing but promote fear mongering and hatred towards what is quickly becoming a multi billion dollar industry, one that the US badly needs. The offenders are few and far between and they will quickly get bored and move on to another hobby. Meanwhile, kneejerk reactions to news stories and articles like this, by people and politicians who don't understand the issues, will only hamstring what is a promising new industry.

false