Police drones have the capacity to intrude upon personal privacy in a way that no technology now, or in the past, has allowed.
But now we’re seeing the next natural (or, unnatural) progression of drone culture where law enforcement will soon be arming drones with weapons that while technically “non-lethal” are still capable of causing bodily harm and instilling a culture of fear in a civilian population already reeling with suspicion after stories of police misconduct have dominated the headlines.
According to Engadget and Discovery News, the initial draft of HB 1328 prohibited the use any type of weapon on all law enforcement drones, but once an industry lobbying firm got involved, the bill was rewritten to permit the use of non-lethal weapons such as tasers, rubber bullets, tear gas, pepper spray and sound cannons on UAVs.
And others are concerned that police who arm drones may create roadblocks for departments trying to use drones in helpful ways.
Instead of Becker’s original and explicit ban on drone weapons, the bill now only bans lethal weapons.
Becker told the Daily Beast of the amendment, “This is one I’m not in full agreement with”.
Becker went on to explain some of the problems with having a police officer controlling a flying taser from several miles away.
“When you’re not on the ground and you’re making decisions, you’re sort of separate”, he said. “Depersonalized”. As part of its specially-granted status to test commercial drones, North Dakota’s Grand Forks County Sheriff’s Department is-unusually-under the “jurisdiction” of the University of North Dakota’s drone research department.
He told the Daily Beast, “It was a bad bill to start with”. Let us know your thoughts below. In fact, it was intended to force police forces to obtain warrants before using drone-mounted cameras to snoop.
According to Gizmodo, the state’s business community also opposed the original bill. Many experts on law enforcement and military technology were surprised by the new law, though they don’t quite see it as a stepping stone to police drones armed with more risky weapons.
And now word is coming out of North Dakota that police are now authorized to utilize armed drones in their efforts to maintain the peace.