New law allows police In North Dakota to be able to laser and tear gas people remotely using aerial drones. The new regulation allows the police freedom to fire "less than lethal" weapons like rubber bullets, pepper spray, tear gas, sound cannons and the like. However, there are some concerns about the use of this technology because of the possibility of the misuse of these drones. North Dakota state is the first in the union to allow the cops to be able to use aerial drones.
The intention of Representative Rick Becker's original draft of the bill, House Bill 1328, was for the police to obtain a search warrant from a judge in order to use drones in spying criminal activities and also to aid in gathering evidence for police investigation purposes. It was never intended to have weapons on the drones.
According to Daily Beast, the amendment of the original bill was authorized by the state house committee in favor of Bruce Burkett of the North Dakota Peace Officer's Association and limited the prohibition only to lethal weapons. That means weapons like rubber bullets, pepper spray, tear gas, sound cannons, and Tasers are therefore permitted on police drones.
The bill's Republican sponsor, Rick Becker was not in agreement with the amendment and was of a different opinion altogether.
"In my opinion there should be a nice, red line: Drones should not be weaponized. Period," he said at a hearing in March. He was also worried about police using the drone to fire at criminal suspects.
"When you're not on the ground, and you're making decisions, you're sort of separate," Rick also stated.
Grand Forks County Sheriff Bob Rost on the other hand doesn't think he should need a warrant to use the drones for surveillance. He said he needed to use the drones to obtain information for the warrant in the first place. And to add to that, his department's drones are only equipped with cameras.
According to MuckRock, the FAA documented 401 drone "operations" performed by the Grand Forks County Sheriff's Department from 2012 to September 2014 which resulted in 80.5 hours of flights, but the Sherrif's department claim only 21 missions have taken place and hiding full account of how many drone missions they've flown.
The sheriff's department assured lawmakers that drones would only be used in non-criminal situations, like the search for a missing person or to photograph an accident scene. What do you think of the police drones?
[Image courtesy: gohunt]