Drone aircrafts have only recently become easily purchasable by everyday consumers, which has led to a great deal of controversy and annoyance over their use in public. Some sports arenas and venues have officially banned the use of drones at events. But if you think that’s an overreaction to a recreational drone, tell that to the man who was arrested the U.S. Secret Service for flying a drone near the White House.
According to the New York Times, a man was detained on Thursday afternoon for flying a drone within a block of the White House, crossing over Lafayette Park at around one in the afternoon. The drone was very small and brightly colored, clearly designed as a toy more than anything else. But, erring on the side of safety, the Secret Service treated the drone as a threat and brought the man into custody.
“As a precaution, the small [drone] was swept and declared safe by the Metropolitan Police Department,” said the Secret Service. “The individual was turned over to the custody of the U.S. Park Police.”
The man cooperated with law officials and landed the drone when they asked him to. The area was then closed off to the public to ensure the drone flying over the White House was not rigged with weapons or explosives. Secret Service officials eventually determined the drone was safe.
According to the Associated Press, the man’s reason for flying the drone over the White House is still unknown. Officials were not able to determine whether or not he was simply taking photos or trying to fly the drone directly into the building. After the drone was deemed safe, the Secret Service turned the man over to the United States Park Police, who have jurisdiction over the area.
Despite the fact that it’s illegal to fly a drone anywhere in Washington D.C., this is not the first time a drone has been spotted flying over the White House. In January, a government employee accidentally crashed a drone into the south lawn of the White House, somehow undetected by radar devices specially designed to locate drones.
It may seem funny that the Secret Service arrested a man over a small plastic helicopter, but drones are an increasing threat to the White House. If a recreational drone went undetected by radar, how easy would it be for someone to attach explosives to a drone and fly it directly into the executive mansion? The air security branch of the Secret Service and The Pentagon are both investigating better ways to defend against drones.
[Images courtesy of The New York Times and Getty Images]