UT police investigating drone use over DKR

Police questioned a UT student Saturday after they say he flew a drone over DKR Memorial Stadium during UT's home opener. (Todd Bynum / KXAN)
Police questioned a UT student Saturday after they say he flew a drone over DKR Memorial Stadium during UT's home opener. (Todd Bynum / KXAN)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — University of Texas Police are investigating the use of a drone over Darrell K. Royal – Texas Memorial Stadium Saturday night during the Longhorns’ home opener. KXAN’s cameras spotted the drone flying above the stadium. The drone had red and green lights on it. It also had a camera.

We weren’t the only ones who spotted it, police did, too. During the second half of the game, officers found the operator of the drone, made him land it and then took the man into custody.

The department told KXAN the man was a UT student, and he was taken in for questioning. As of Monday afternoon, UTPD says they are still investigating and that no charges have been filed.

UTPD spokeswoman Cindy Posey released the following statement to KXAN Sunday:

“UTPD observed an unauthorized drone in and around the Darrell K. Royal – Texas Memorial Stadium and watched as it maneuvered and landed on San Jacinto. Officers located the operator, a UT student, who was detained and transported to the police station. The drone was seized, the student identified, questioned and released pending further investigation.

Our top priority is the safety our students, employees, fans and visitors. UTPD Chief David Carter stresses that we are concerned about the use of drones and are investigating the incident thoroughly. The university continually works with local, state and federal law enforcement agencies to maintain the highest levels of safety on our campus.”

An increasing number of people are using drones for commercial and recreational purposes. The laws surrounding drone use are still evolving.

Drones are regulated under model-airplane rules. The FAA oversees their use to some extent, but state law primarily governs drones.

FAA regulations say model aircraft can fly below 400 feet if they are away from airports and air traffic. They must also stay within sight of the operator.

Texas state law requires drone pilots to have permission from property owners to shoot aerial images of their property. Violating that law can cost offenders up to $1,000 for every image they take.

In 2012, Congress gave the FAA three years to come up with specific regulations on drone use. They should be in place by September 2015.

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