Thursday, April 20, 2017

Connecticul bill would allow law enforcement personnel to use lethally armed drones

A bill in the U.S. state of Connecticut that would permit law enforcement personnel to use lethally-armed aerial drones passed through the Judiciary Committee and will now go to the state House of Representatives for a full vote.

If passed Connecticut would become the first U.S. state to allow police to use armed drones. Originally the bill banned the use of deadly weapons on drones entirely before amending it to allow police to use them. Teenager, Austin Haughwout, of Clinton Connecticut, put on YouTube videos of drones equipped with flamethrowers and a handgun. One of his videos had more than 3.8 million views. The Federal Aviation Administration announced that it was going to investigate Haughwout for any possible violations. The appended You Tube video reports on Haughwout's drone.
North Dakota has already passed legislation that will allow law enforcement agencies to use armed drones but only using less than lethal weapons such as tear gas. There was concern that the law might be used against pipeline demonstrations.
David Mcguire, executive director of the Connecticut American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) said: “This was originally a good bill to protect communities from unwarranted police drone surveillance and prevent police from weaponizing drones. The ACLU of Connecticut supports protecting people from unwarranted drone surveillance, but opposes the amendment to allow police to equip drones with lethal and “less-lethal” weapons.” McGuire said the state was behind in legislation as at least three departments have already started to use drones for surveillance but there are as yet no oversight rules. Already, 36 states have laws on their books regarding aerial drone use. Others have departments that want to purchase and use drones for search and rescue operations but are awaiting oversight rules. McGuire also said: "We would be setting a dangerous precedent. It is really concerning and outrageous that that's being considered in our state legislature. Lethal force raises this to a level of real heightened concern."
Those in support of the bill say they want to give leeway to law enforcement officers when it comes to handling emergency situations. The Police Officers Standards and Training Council would establish guidelines for use of drones to be approved by the state legislature.
Republican state Senator John Kissel, a co-chair of the Judiciary Committee said: "Obviously this is for very limited circumstances We can certainly envision some incident on some campus or someplace where someone is a rogue shooter or someone was kidnapped and you try to blow out a tire." Five states have already banned anyone from using armed drones and two more have specifically banned police from using them according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. The use of armed drones would be just one more step towards the militarization of police forces.


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