Oklahoma City activist using drone to bust ‘acts of lewdness’

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OKLAHOMA CITY -- Brian Bates is no stranger to crimes in south Oklahoma City and now he's got a new weapon in his arsenal; a drone.

"I do like using it as a witness," Bates said. "I could launch the drone and have it be a witness to what's happening all around me."

Bates first launched his drone to catch an act of lewdness near S.W. 12th and Robinson.

At the time, Bates suspected there was a pimp nearby.

"I didn't want to come walking up because then I've got two vehicles to avoid," Bates remembered. "So, I thought 'Well, this is an open area where I've got permission to be on the property. I'll launch the drone.'"

Some question if it's legal to operate a camera-equipped drone in Oklahoma City limits.

Oklahoma City police say it is.

"We have yet to see how this is going to play out, but at this time, there is no city ordinance against flying a drone," said Capt. Paco Balderrama, with the Oklahoma City Police Department.

However, privacy remains a concern.

Bates believes his drone is a valuable tool, but he said he will only fly it as a last resort because piloting the aircraft takes his attention away from what's going on around him.

"I bet I have two or three hundred hours practicing my drone, and it's only resulted in one bust," said Bates.

Bates plans to turn over the sky-high bust to Oklahoma City police.

Drones are not legal everywhere.

Air space near airports is regulated and restricted from drone traffic.

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