As the technology gets cheaper and more popular, one Warner Robins councilman says he wants to get ahead of the curve when it comes to regulating drone use in the city.
Councilman Tim Thomas has brought up the issue at the last two city council meetings, including this past Monday.
WMAZ asked him and Police Chief Brett Evans Wednesday what has them concerned about drone use in the International City.
“I'm concerned about is the privacy. You know? I know with sexual predators they can't be around schools or daycares or playgrounds, but my thought is what if they fly one over a backyard and there's kids and they're videotaping? There's nothing to really monitor that,” Thomas said.
He said it's also a safety issue, citing a moment a few weeks ago where he saw a drone hovering over Watson Boulevard. Thomas said his concern was the drone losing battery or control and causing accidents or injuries on the busy street below.
That's why Thomas wants to implement new drone rules.
Police Chief Brett Evans said the rules should focus on safety, particularly when it concerns flying over areas of heavy traffic, and privacy. Evans also said enforcement could cause headaches.
“The difficulty is going to be in the fact that they can operate the drone from a quarter to a half mile away. So, finding the person who's actually operating the drone may be more difficult, so we'll work on the aspect of that when the time comes,” Evans said at City Hall.
However, the Chief said they would look into technology that could allow them to track drones.
Both men also said they would support a permit system operating through the Warner Robins Police Department. That way, responsible drone pilots can pay a fee to register and fly within city limits.
Chief Evans said that even though there isn’t a clear drone problem yet, it's important to get ahead of the curve.
“I think that with the city being on the progressive side and looking towards curbing the problems before they occur, this is the best route for us to take,” Evans said Wednesday.
Thomas told WMAZ the city attorney was working the new regulations right now and hopes to present them at the Council's next meeting on March 20th.
With Robins Air Force Base, drones are not allowed within 5 miles. Thomas also said the city's rules would work with FAA regulations already in place.
Footage from drone pilot Chris Dunn was used in this story.
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