Rochester man arrested for flying drone near New Era Field


ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (WIVB)- A Rochester man faces charges after he was caught with a drone near New Era Field during Tuesday night’s U2 concert. Drones are banned near the stadium during events.

According to Orchard Park Police, Joseph Danno, 39, was caught flying it above the bus lot outside New Era Field around 8 p.m.

Danno is now charged with trespassing with an unmanned aircraft and faces a $250 fine or 15 days in jail.

“That wasn’t the smartest move by that gentleman last night,” said Andy Major, Vice President of Operations and Guest Experience for the Bills.

The Bills and Orchard Park Police work together to keep drones away from the field during events.

“When there’s large crowds, God forbid if the drone came down on people, that’s a big concern for us,” said Major.

Orchard Park Police Chief Mark Pacholec told News 4 in 2014, after an NFL security conference, they started looking at implementing a law preventing drones. An ordinance was put into place in 2015, banning drones before, during and after events at New Era Field.

The law was expanded this summer.

“We don’t want anybody to get hurt,” said Pacholec. “Don’t bring your drone. If we catch you with it, we will seize it and we will arrest you.”

He explained drones are not allowed in the air within three miles of New Era Field, six hours before and after an event. The law also bans unmanned aircraft at town events with more than 200 people.

Pacholec told News 4 they were the first to have a ban like this around an NFL stadium nationwide.

It doesn’t just prevent against accidents.

“What happens when we have somebody who has malicious intent, you know, flies one into the stadium and crashes it?” said Pacholec. “It doesn’t have to be armed with any type of explosives, doesn’t have to contain any type of chemical or biological agent, it just has to cause panic and people will still get hurt or potentially die.”

They’ve arrested four people since the law went into effect and they’re looking at ways to better enforce it.

“There is counter-drone technology out there,” said Pacholec. “The question is can you use it? Where do you use it? When do you use it? It’s not a simple solution but we are working on it.”

The department plans to report Tuesday’s incident to the FAA.

Danno was released from police custody and is due back in court Oct. 24.

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