MERIDEN, Conn. (WTNH) — Drones have become increasingly popular over the years. Some may use them to capture a birds-eye view of an event or soon, the gorgeous fall foliage in Connecticut. There are regulations — but not everyone follows the rules.

“They’re incredible tools, and we just want people to be responsible with those tools,” Connecticut State Police Sgt. Kevin Pelkey said. “The FAA views even the smallest drone no differently than any manned aircraft or crewed aircraft that’s flying in the skies.”

On Wednesday, News 8 got an inside look at the drone detection unit. Connecticut State Police use a truck equipped with technology to keep an eye on the skies. The team is a partnership with the Transportation Security Administration and Federal Aviation Administration.

“As the drone is moving, or as the pilot is moving, we get the location of the drone itself,” Pelkey said.

Pelkey said the unit is used it at big events, such as games at Rentschler Field in East Hartford or Sailfest in New London.  The unit also helps protect critical infrastructure like ports and airports. 

“A lot of the people we interact with who are flying either went and bought the drone and never took a class to know there are the regulations, or they just ignored them,” Pelkey said. “We have state laws that we can enforce, but it’s really just your standard trespassing, reckless endangerment, breaches of peace, those kinds of citations.”

At this point, it’s more about education than enforcement and officials are encouraging people to learn the rules and regulations.  If you’re flying a drone recreationally: 

  • Register your drone
  • Keep your drone within your line of sight
  • Fly at approved altitudes
  • Be aware of airspace restrictions
  • Take the TRUST safety test and carry proof you passed

“We do go around to various schools, to drone clubs, to colleges and to safety fairs,” said Steven Blindbury, the assistant federal safety law enforcement director for TSA Connecticut.