Monday, August 31, 2015

North Dakota Becomes First State to Legalize Taser Drones

Over the past few decades, we've seen military drones transform from a tool of surveillance, into an aircraft with lethal capabilities. In that time, we've also seen drones inch their way into domestic law enforcement, as police departments across the country buy these devices for their own surveillance purposes. It's only a matter of time before law enforcement follows the same path that the military took, and starts to incorporate weapons into these machines.

It seems that the first steps on this path have been taken. North Dakota has become the first state to legalize drones equipped with non lethal weapons for the police. The original intent of House Bill 1328, was to force police to obtain a warrant before using a drone, and to prohibit all weapons from being used on police drones. But then a member of the North Dakota Peace Officer's Association was allowed to modify the bill, which he did by changing the wording to only apply to lethal weapons. Now police in North Dakota will be able to equip their drones with less than lethal weapons like rubber bullets and tasers.

The original author of the bill, Rick Becker, told the Daily Beast that “This is one I’m not in full agreement with. I wish it was any weapon. In my opinion there should be a nice, red line: Drones should not be weaponized. Period.” He also expressed his concerns for these weapons “When you’re not on the ground, and you’re making decisions, you’re sort of separate. Depersonalized.”

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