Weaponized Police Drones Shot Down by Legislative Committee
The bill would have made Connecticut the first state to allow police to use weaponized drones.
HARTFORD, Conn. – This past March, Connecticut state legislature passed a bill that would allow for police to weaponize drones.
That bill has officially been killed by a legislative committee, according to the Connecticut Post.
“It would have sent the wrong measure and created some really awful precedent,” says David McGuire, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Connecticut. “It’s a good thing, with the Legislature showing that they do not support the weaponization of drones, but it’s still an area that there needs to be regulation on. Both the public and police need usable regulations to ensure that drones are used in a safe, productive way.”
McGuire says that his organization would support future drone-related legislation as long as the bill prohibits weaponized drones and requires that police obtain court-ordered warrants before using them for surveillance.
Berlin Chief of Police Paul Fitzgerald says the Connecticut Police Chiefs Association would be willing to work on potential compromises, but oppose the requirement for warrants.
“It’s about protecting the public and officers,” Fitzgerald says. “Here’s an opportunity to be lights above, to see the threat before it happens. It’s a great tool and this is new technology, and we need to have some freedom in using that technology.”
Peter Sachs, a lawyer and founder of both the Drone Pilots Association and the Drone Law Journal, said he sent letters to committee members asking them to kill the bill.
After seeing the bill fail, Sachs said, “It had nothing to do with the warrant requirement. All parties had already accepted that provision. It was due to the inane amendment from the Judiciary Committee that would have permitted law enforcement to fly armed drones. Those who offered that amendment failed to consider that such an exception would have placed law enforcement in the position of violating several federal aviation regulations.”
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