A drone policy? Really?
Of all the matters and issues of consequence that the Lawrence City Commission might need to tackle, a drone policy may be least likely to rise to the top of the list.
Mayor Mike Dever pegged it: “If we’re interested in having drones, then we probably would need to have a policy. I personally don’t foresee any application for drones that I would see as a reasonable extension of city oversight or law enforcement activities.”
Dever’s comments came in response to clamor from a group of local organizations intent on making Lawrence one of the first cities in the nation to pass an ordinance limiting the ability of police or other city departments to use drones.
Ben Jones, who leads the organization, Kansans for Responsible Drone Use, sees this as an opportunity for the city “to be a leader both in the state and the country.”
Great! Perhaps that would move Lawrence ahead of or at least in a tie with Deer Trail, Colo., where the proposal was to offer up hunting licenses and bounties for shooting down the unmanned aircraft. Not that Lawrence needs to provide any additional evidence to other Kansans of its remarkable political nature.
But let’s be clear. These drones are not your miniature aircraft of the sort flown by hobbyists at Clinton Lake. These are full-scale, pilotless airplanes used for surveillance and as weapons.
Let’s be clear also that any local policy would not control how the federal government chooses to use drones, and acknowledge that proponents of the policy are not seeking to limit commercial activities involving drones.
If, at a future date, these devices seem to be needed for some legitimate purpose in Lawrence, then certainly a policy should be developed in the context of the time that’s pertinent to the intended use, providing appropriate guidelines and limitations. Absent that set of facts, this is not a situation calling on Lawrence for national leadership.