Flying a drone in NYC, currently against the law except in very limited areas, could land you with more than a summons or a fine. While flying the drone is only a misdemeanor crime, violators are now put through an extensive background check and flagged for the counterterrorism unit, a local news station reports.
While most people might assume that flying a hobby drone in Central Park was not enough cause to land in the slow lane at airport security, the NYPD thinks it is. “I think it’s safe to say the average person would be shocked to find out the Parks Department and the Police Department are compiling a watch list,” New York City Park Advocates President Geoffrey Croft told reporter Tony Aiello. Park regulations now state that any information taken from a drone operator be kept in a database to send to the NYPD.
At that point, said Salvatore Di Pace, the NYPD’s Deputy Chief for Counter-Terrorism, “We do an extensive background check. Our intel division gets involved. We run the background.”
Last year, CBS Morning news reported that the NYPD had become very concerned with hobby drones as potential terrorist tools when they saw the video of a drone landing in front of German Chancellor Angela Merkel. “If you really think about what could have happened there, the drone hit its target right on the mark and could have took the chancellor and her people out,” DiPace told CBS.
“We’ve looked at some people that have jury-rigged these drones to carry guns, to carry different types of explosives if they wanted to; there’s just so many possibilities that we’re very worried about,” DiPace said.
The NYPD has become so concerned with drones, which they say are “not toys” that they have reportedly consulted with military experts and involved members of their counterterrorism and bomb squads on plans to counter weaponized drones.