The drones aren't yet multiplying in Lawrence, but the people who are against them appear to be.
If you remember back in May, a group of about a dozen residents went to City Hall asking for a city policy limiting the use of drones in city airspace.
Now, a handful of other local organizations are calling for the policy as well. According to a press release this morning from the Kansans for Responsible Drone Use, the following organizations now are asking the city for a policy: The Douglas County Republican Party; the Douglas County Libertarians; the Lawrence Coalition for Peace and Justice; Madre Lawrence; and Kansas University's Young Americans for Liberty.
To be clear, the city of Lawrence doesn't own any drones, for its Police Department or any other department. Back in May, commissioners told the group that it doesn't have any plans to purchase drones, either.
But the group says now is as good a time as any to clarify how the city may or may not use drones in the future. Specifically, the group is asking for a policy that includes: A moratorium on the city using drones until state guidelines are developed; a ban on the city ever using weaponized drones; and a ban on the city using drones for surveillance purposes and evidence gathering, "except in response to an emergency where lives are at risk."
City commissioners in May did not commit to creating an ordinance. Instead, they said they would take the matter under advisement. It hasn't come back up for discussion publicly since.
If Lawrence moves ahead with this policy, it wouldn't be the first in the country to do so. But it would be one of just a handful. It looks like Charlottesville, Va., became the first city in the country to pass an ordinance making its city's airspace a "drone free zone."
I'll let you know if the movement appears to have any momentum at Lawrence City Hall. I've also got a call into a leader with the Douglas County Republican Party to get its take on the issue.