Drones cause for safety, privacy concerns in Baton Rouge

Drones present safety, privacy issues for Baton Rouge

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Security officers at the state’s capitol say they frequently kick drone operators out of Capitol Park for flying their aircraft without law enforcement’s permission.

It’s one example of a problem becoming more common as drone technology becomes more available. Because Baton Rouge has a number of government buildings, universities, and an airport, drone owners cannot fly in a handful of areas around the city.

But Senator Dan Claitor, R-Baton Rouge, says people probably don’t know those rules and restrictions.

“It amazed me that it was that easy to do,” Claitor said, referencing the first time he saw a drone flying inside the Mall of Louisiana. “Though it looked like a great thing and fun to play with, it showed me there was a lot of potential for misuse.”

Claitor bought a drone to demonstrate that potential to his colleagues in the legislature in 2016 as he pushed for a bill that eventually made the punishment for “droning” in an area without permission similar to criminal trespassing.

In Baton Rouge, it’s illegal to operate a drone on private property, around the state capitol, at LSU and Southern, or near the airport. Operators can, however, request permission from property owners or law enforcement with jurisdiction in that area for an exception.

“We have to be thoughtful about it," Claitor said Wednesday. “Putting it in the hands of a 12-year-old that can do something that a 12-year-old thinks is neat isn’t quite the same thing as what you and I would probably think is a good use.”

When in doubt, check with law enforcement before launching a drone to avoid being fined or arrested. Claitor says drone laws will be probably updated as the technology improves, just like cars or the internet.

But that won’t eliminate the risk for danger or intrusion entirely, he said.

“All the regulation in the world is not going to take care of idiots," Claitor said with a smirk. “I don’t think that people think it’s fair for me to fly my drone in your backyard just because I can.”

UAV Coach, a drone pilot training platform, offers some additional resources and regulations here.

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