Drones are becoming more and more utilized in a variety of different fields. Businesses such as DHL and Amazon caught the attention of many by making use of these robotic apparatus to make deliveries. Media outlets have also been known for using drones to capture hard-to-reach shots for breaking news. Now, the lawmakers at North Dakota add to this growing list, being the first U.S. state to legalize the use of armed drones for law enforcement.
As NPR reports, the passing of the new law allows North Dakota law enforcement to make use of armed drones equipped only with “less than lethal” weapons such as rubber bullets, pepper spray, tear gas, bean bag cannons, and Tasers. The law also requires the police to obtain a search warrant before these drones can be used.
Republican state Rep. Rick Becker was the main proponent of the original bill and is none too happy with how parts of the law had turned out, emphasizing his views that drones should not be weaponized. He had first introduced the bill to push for measures requiring police to obtain appropriate search warrants before making use of drones to survey areas for evidence. However, hurdles in the legislative process caused him to make certain compromises. He was quoted by the website Arstechnica, saying, “…the committee accepted amendments and I didn’t fight them because I wanted the bill to pass at least to require warrants.”
Despite these compromises, Rep. Becker sees the law’s passage as a decisive step away from concerns of privacy invasion. However, Arstechnica notes that he remains determined to introduce a new bill that will advocate for the “non-lethal” use of police drones.