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Hamilton, Ohio, Looks at Law to Stop Drone Voyeurism

Several residents of Hamilton, Ohio, have complained about a drone harassing and spying on them over the last couple of years. Now the city council is preparing to take action with drone regulations.

Drones in the sky
(TNS) — Hamilton City Council will consider legislation against using drones to commit voyeurism after a resident this summer complained someone in his neighborhood had been harassing others with a small unmanned flying machine that can be used to record images.

City Law Director Letitia Block researched laws elsewhere in Ohio and found ordinances in Youngstown, Cleveland, Cleveland Heights and elsewhere, including the Sandusky County Park District, and put forward an ordinance for Hamilton's council to consider. Legislation in the Ohio House also has been proposed.

A longtime city resident urged the council to approve the legislation, saying a man was using a drone to peer into windows, fly over children playing in yards and chase a young woman down the street.

"I've heard this from at least five other people, I would say in the last two to three years, that this is an issue," said City Manager Joshua Smith, who wanted to quickly implement a city law. Among the proposed law's aims is to make it illegal to use unmanned vehicles "to invade the privacy of another's home, office, enclosed space or the private space of another."

Flying drones above other properties, such as homes, would be banned without the owner's consent, and surveillance would be prohibited, as would flying over crime scenes or places where emergency workers are in action.

It also would make it unlawful to use such machines "in a manner that recklessly endangers persons, wildlife, or property or in a manner that harasses, disturbs, intimidates, annoys or threatens persons."

The proposed law also would ban people from flying drones over public parks, schools, municipal buildings or any other property owned or used by the City of Hamilton School District, Hamilton Parks Conservancy or the City of Hamilton. TVHamilton cameras would have an exception.

"I know your situation is awful, but we will definitely look into it," Mayor Pat Moeller said before the proposed legislation was created. "I do believe we'll be able to come up with something."

©2021 Dayton Daily News, Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
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