Illinois Police Chief Seeks Criminal Charges Against Man Flying Drone
John Pauly, owner of the YouTube channel JPDrone, posted a lovely video of downtown Naperville, Illinois, before Christmas, showcasing the city’s eye-catching light displays from a unique angle.
Naturally, the Naperville Police Chief, Robert Marshall, reacted to Pauly’s video by seeking legal counsel from the city legal department, likely to see what crimes he could charge Pauly with.
At the moment, the answer is none. While Illinois has passed a law making it a crime to use a drone to interfere with hunting and fishing, there are no other state laws preventing the public from using “drones,” more appropriately called RC (remote-controlled) copters.
The FAA, on the other hand, has slapped people like Pauly with fines, and may continue to do so after winning a recent legal battle classifying drones as aircraft. Pauly is reportedly making videos in an attempt to promote his start-up aerial video company.
According to the Chicago Tribune:
“Obviously, if they’re flying over a public area, you have to ask if there’s any risk to public safety, who’s the operator and if he’s abiding by the regulations set in place by the FAA,” Marshall said. “There was a request from an individual who wanted
to fly a drone camera overhead at Ribfest last summer, and we did not allow that.”
The YouTube user, JPDrone, is John Pauly, a North Aurora hobbyist who is trying to launch a drone video business. Pauly, who works with two friends and uses two camera-equipped drones, said he has been making the videos in an attempt to get
the word out about his startup. His first effort was in Geneva, where he said he was approached by police who were concerned about what he was doing.
“Since then, we always let the police know,” Pauly said. “You can’t be reckless with it, that’s when you can get in trouble.”
He said he called Naperville police before doing the nighttime video, which he said was filmed from less than 200 feet above the city.
The concern comes at a time when officials are trying to educate the public on the safe use of the unmanned aircraft systems and federal authorities are mulling permanent regulations for the use of recreational and commercial drones.