LOS ANGELES—A Los Angeles man was detained on Friday for allegedly flying his drone in the path of a Los Angeles Police Department helicopter during a suspect search in East Hollywood on Thursday, August 27.
Thirty minutes into the search, the LAPD helicopter was forced to take “evasive action” around 11:30 p.m. due to an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) entering the airspace of the LAPD helicopter.
The drone operator, whose name has not been released, was located a quarter mile from his unmanned aircraft. The man, who is in his 40’s, was detected by police in a parking lot of a Rite-Aid store in the 6100 block of Sunset Boulevard, said officials of the LAPD’s Hollywood Station.
The man was detained at the shopping center and later released, but officials confiscated his drone and its video footage for further investigation. According to reports, authorities are planning to send a report to prosecutors in hopes of pressing charges against the drone owner.
Within the last few years, drones have sprung into the air everywhere and proven that they are no longer limited to military missions, as they have made their way into mainstream markets. From aerial surveys to rescue missions, drones are becoming a prevalent form of technology.
“The most immediate and critical issue we face is the serious threat that these drones pose with the irresponsible use of them, it is placing our air crews, our pilots, in immediate danger,” said Ken Pimlott, Chief of the state Department of Forestry and Fire Protection during a joint legislative hearing.
This summer, a drone came within 50 feet of a DC-10 air tanker during its return from the Rocky Fire in Northern California. Another drone reportedly almost collided with a medical chopper heading towards Community Regional Medical Center in Fresno, while transporting a snake bite victim.
After two drones blocked firefighters for 20 minutes from delivering aerial water coverage during a wildfire in July, which incinerated dozens of cars along the California Interstate 15, Assemblyman Mike Gatto (D-Glendale) and Senator Ted Gaines (R-El Dorado) introduced SB 168. The bill allows emergency personnel to damage or destroy unmanned air crafts during missions, proposes fines and even jail time of drone operators.
SB 167, which could fine drone operators up to $5,000 and place them in prison up to 6 months was unanimously approved on Friday, August 28, a day after the Hollywood incident.
So far, SB 170 is the only other piece of legislation regarding unmanned air crafts that has been endorsed by assembly in California. The bill prohibits drone operation over federal prisons.