Drones or unmanned aircrafts are growing in popularity with the passage of time. With its increasing use, a new industry is expanding into a multibillion dollar business. At the same time, the laid back approach of law makers in US aren’t allowing them to come up with acceptable drone law. They are struggling to deal with this fresh technology and formulating laws on its use. Legislators are weighing the positives of endorsing the freedom of drone users and protection of public’s privacy and safety.
It is all happening in Ventura County. The month of February saw Sheriff’s Office becoming Southern California’s only police agency allowed to use drones by Federal Aviation Administration. This applies all over its jurisdiction stretching almost 1843 square miles as expressed by Chris Dunn, a commander. Throughout this period, a four rotor done equipped with HD camera on top were deployed by deputies for assistance in SWAT search and rescue operations, surveillance, hazardous material calling and other operations. It was expressed by Cmdr. Dunn at Joint Legislative
Committee’s hearing about emergency management. According to Cmdr. Dunn, they are completely operational with a single device and within the procedure of having another device.
With no clearly defined drone law for state, Dun pointed out how Ventura County’s sheriff officials have formulated protocols for alerting local residents prior to deployment of five and a half pound and two foot long aerial vehicle. According to Dunn, this unmanned vehicle were employed by them in past for conducting search operations of a missing kid. It took place in the upper rural region of Ojai where the reverse 911 mechanism was used for notifying resident prior to deployment of a UAV.
The commander throws light on the reason for adopting this approach. One of them is to not surprise them with the sudden sight of drone in their region. Secondly, to ensure the residents are not interfering its normal functioning by either throwing things or resorting to any alternative step towards successful completion of this mission. Senator Jackson pointed out how she has convened the 18th August hearing to listen from lawmakers. It is about the incorporation of this emerging technology with their work. Reportedly, she was also frustrated regarding the frequent reporting of drones over entering into prohibited air space in the recent times.
In the absence of a clearly defined drone law, air operations for rescuing fires at San Bernardino and Cajon Pass separately were stopped in July, as expressed by officials. According to Senator Johnson, officials from different organizations were called to attend the hearing. Among the invitees were a well known drone maker and media organization members using such devices.
According to some sources, international drone market was valued at $2.5 billion in the previous year. However, the drone law or regulations of this country aren’t as fast as the technology itself. Jackson brought SB 142, aimed at creating a restricted zone of flying over personal property above 350 feet. Proposals are still pending which are continuously debating the legality and illegalities of this evolving technology. It is the initial step in this direction, believes Jackson.
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