NY Case Escalates Drone Law Debate

Saturday, July 19th 2014, 10:32 pm
By: News 9

Is it the modern day peeping Tom? That's what anti-drone advocates are calling unmanned aerial devices with cameras attached.

A New York man was arrested this week for allegedly recording video from a hospital window.

New York State Police are investigating video they say a man unlawfully shot with his drone and then posted on his Facebook page.

His case is continuing the debate nationally about possible drone laws.

Up and away, more drones are taking to the sky.

"They're becoming very common," said CEO of American Drones LLC, Darren Hensley. "People are buying them at hobby stores, RC stores and on the Internet.”

Amateur drones are perfectly legal to fly, as long as they don't violate FAA regulations.

The controversy over the use of drones escalated this week when 49-year-old David Beesmer of New York flew his drone about 15 feet near a hospital window, where patients were being examined. Beesmer was arrested and faces felony charges.

One local attorney says the case calls for new laws on drones.

“I think we're really trying to use old laws, trespassing, privacy laws in a new way, and I think it's really going to call for some new regulation to ensure privacy,” attorney David Slane said.

“Until somebody makes it public, we don't know that they're out there doing it," said Slane. "And that's the scary part for people, since there is a fine line, and in the wrong hands, people could basically plan burglaries and home invasions.”

State Representative Paul Wesselhoft has already introduced a bill banning drones used by the government and law enforcement without a search warrant.

"The government has no business snooping to see if you might do something wrong," said Rep. Wesselfhoft. "That's what we've got to watch out for, because they're going to be looking to see what possible activities you might be involved in that might go over the line of criminality."

“Right now, we have nothing in place that protects the individual against government drones,” Rep. Wesselfhoft added.

Hensley has been a longtime radio control hobbyist and says all drones aren't bad. He says they could be useful for photographers, farmers, real estate agents and first responders in emergencies like tornadoes.

“When you have power lines down and debris everywhere, it's a way for them to reach beyond, and if you put a speaker on one of these things, they can guide people to safety," Hensley said.

Beesmer of New York posted the following apology on his Facebook page Tuesday:

“I understand that people inside were alarmed, however as you can see from the footage I posted that there is no way that my camera can see through tinted windows…it’s new medical facility that opened in the town of Ulster close to where I live, so I am so very proud that someone has done something positive with the property that has been abandoned for many years. I took my mom to a doctor’s appointment there.”

Beesmer is to appear in court for charges on unlawful surveillance in the second degree.

Rep. Wesselhoft says all states eventually will have to pass laws pertaining to drones. He plans to reintroduce his drone legislation next year.

For more information on different types of drones, visit American Drones LLC.