Legislation was passed last spring that allows police in North Dakota to utilize drones not only for surveillance but also as non-lethal weapons. The bill, which was originally introduced by Representative Rick Becker, did not permit the use of any kind of weaponry to be used, but lobbyists advocated for the bill to be amended to allow non-lethal weapons in order to win the support of law enforcement. There are restrictions incorporated into the law that limit the scenarios in which drones can be used by police, though. For example, a drone may only be used for surveillance if the data will be used in investigating a felony, and law enforcement must obtain a warrant to use the drone which includes very specific details on how, when and where it will be used. There are also limits on how personal information that the drone uncovers may be dealt with. Even with some restrictions within the legislature limiting the use of drones, some say that the drones are providing law enforcement with too much power.

Jay Stanley from the American Civil Liberties Union states that even non-lethal weapons can still have lethal results. Tasers, though non-lethal, still lead to approximately fifty deaths a year. Additionally, using drones may lead to detachment between the person operating the drone and the suspect on the other side, which could lead to regrettable choices. Jim McGregor disagrees, explaining that police officers out in the field may have a harder time making the right call than someone operating a drone in an offsite location with less to distract them. He likens drones to other methods, including SWAT teams and snipers, to show that drones are not so different from well-known choices for dealing with dangerous situations.

Whether non-lethal drones are a positive or negative development in law enforcement technology, Representative Becker intends to propose a  new law that will make non-lethal as well as lethal weaponry on drones illegal.

Article via TechNewsWorld, August 28, 2015

Photo: Drone via ninfaj [Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs]