Syracuse lawmakers will rewrite drone ban language

Oct 7, 2013

Syracuse lawmakers are re-working their proposed ban on the use of surveillance drones over city skies.

A draft of regulations were introduced on the council agenda at a study session last week, but were quickly withdrawn.

New draft federal guidelines out on drone use prompted the re-write. The federal rules will be incorporated into the city's, according to councilor Jake Barrett, who chairs the public safety committee.

Syracuse's ban would govern city police use of drones and outlaw warrantless surveillance. It would not have authority over military or federal law enforcement drone use.

The Common Council first debated drone regulations in June. The Syracuse Peace Council pushed lawmakers to come up with rules. Other cities across the country have taken up similar laws.

A coalition of universities and defense contractors in upstate New York is separately bidding to become a federal drone testing area. It says the industry could bring research dollars and hundreds of jobs.

"We don't want to signal we're against new development" around the drone industry, Barrett said.

The 174th Air National Guard Attack Wing based in Syracuse began flying drone training flights over parts of Syracuse this summer.

It will take weeks or months for the new draft to come before the council again, according to Barrett.