DOJ Reports Multiple Drone Violations During Public Events

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The justice department last week issued a report detailing FBI counter drone missions at key special events in what officials called an attempt to draw attention to rogue drone pilots.

The report breaks down the events into “National Special Security Events (NSSEs), Special Events Assessment Rating (SEAR) events, and select mass gatherings throughout the country over the past fiscal year.”

Federal counter drone measures took flight in 2018 with passage of the Preventing Emerging Threats Act of 2018. A portion of the new law empowered the FBI to “take appropriate and lawful action against unmanned aircraft or unmanned aircraft systems that threaten the safety and security of the public, covered facilities and assets and DOJ missions.”

“Drones are an amazing technology that offer great commercial promise, but they also present a serious challenge to ensuring public safety,” said Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey A. Rosen.

“As events return during and after this global pandemic, we will be out in force where needed, collaborating with our partners from the Federal Aviation Administration and the Department of Homeland Security, to protect the public from unsafe, careless or malicious drone operators.”

From Oct. 1, 2019, to Sept. 30, 2020, the FBI launched counter drone missions at national sporting events such as Super Bowl LIV in Miami, the 2019 World Series, and the 2020 Rose Bowl Game, as well as at other major events that draw large crowds like Washington, D.C.’s “A Capitol Fourth” and New York City’s New Year’s celebration.  The report states the FBI detected more than 200 drones “unlawfully flying in national security airspace restricted by the [FAA] at such events.”

The FBI confiscated around a dozen drones at restricted events, the report continues.

“The FBI is heavily invested in ensuring public safety at special events and we are engaged, with our federal, state, and local partners, to ensure UAS do not pose a threat to these events,” said FBI Executive Assistant Director Terry Wade.  “The FBI remains committed to identifying, investigating, and disrupting the careless or criminal use of UAS.”

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