US Open fans warned by NYPD as ‘the city has recently changed some of its rules’

Chinese tennis star Wu Yibing on his journey to ATP Tour

The chief of the NYPD has issued a warning to anyone thinking about flying a drone close to the US Open, despite New York City recently relaxing its rules around the operation of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV).

The final Grand Slam of the international tennis season got underway at Flushing Meadows on Monday, where the world’s best tennis players were joined by huge celebrity names like Mike Tyson and former US President Barack Obama in the stands.

But comments made by Big Apple police officials on Monday spelt out a “zero tolerance policy” to anyone who attempts to fly a drone in or around the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Queens whilst the tournament is taking place.

Individuals found to be flying a craft without authorisation could have their craft grounded and confiscated and face the prospect of a fine, being arrested or both.

The NYPD announced a series of precautionary measures designed to ramp up security during the tournament. In 2015, a drone was flown into the stadium during an evening match and crashed into the seats, something authorities are particularly keen to thwart from happening again.

The temporary rules around drones are in contrast to New York’s recent move to introduce greater flexibility when it comes to gaining authorisation for conducting UAV flights in the city.

Speaking at a safety briefing, NYPD Deputy Commissioner of Intelligence and Counterterrorism Rebecca Weiner said: “This is an important point, mindful the city has recently changed some of its rules surrounding drone permitting.

“However – and this is important – the NYPD and our law enforcement partners have a zero tolerance policy for unauthorized persons found operating drones in and around this center.

“The operating and flying of drones is strictly prohibited unless you are specifically authorized to do so.”

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Weiner added that offenders risked their “equipment being confiscated, being subject to a summons, or arrested.”

She also stated that New York police officers would be “deploying our counter-drone capabilities,” but stopped short of explaining specifically what that entailed. However, Drone DJ believes it will include a full range of detection, identification and neutralisation platforms including incapacitation and control guns.

The US Open runs from Monday, August 28 until Sunday, September 10. New York officials are expected to switch back to their more liberal approach to the use of drones once the tournament has been concluded, including for the purpose of a limited number of police missions.

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