A Southland lawmaker co-introduced legislation in Sacramento Monday that would allow first responders to disable or damage drones that interfere with emergency operations.
“Drone operators are risking lives when they fly over an emergency situation,” said Assemblyman Mike Gatto, D-Glendale. “Just because you have access to an expensive toy that can fly in a dangerous area doesn’t mean you should do it.”
Senate Bill 168, introduced by Gatto and Sen. Ted Gaines, R-El Dorado, would grant “immunity to any emergency responder who damages an unmanned aircraft in the course of firefighting, air ambulance, or search-and-rescue operations.”
Los Angeles County fire Inspector David Dantic declined to comment on the specific legislation, but said his agency’s aircraft cannot operate safely if a drone is in the same airspace.
Gatto and Gaines also teamed up on companion legislation: SB 167, which would increase fines and introduce the possibility of jail time for drone use that interferes with firefighting efforts.
“We have ever-emerging technologies that can disrupt and disable a nuisance drone,” Gatto said. “Our emergency response personnel shouldn’t be at risk when coming to the aid of our communities.”
— City News Service