Bill To Expand Police Use Of Drones Passes Its Second Committee Stop

Feb 17, 2021
Originally published on February 16, 2021 6:15 pm

A bill to allow law enforcement to use drones for collecting evidence at crime scenes and traffic crashes passed its second committee stop today. It would also open the door for police to manage traffic with drones. But officers could not use any images or video collected from the device to give out a traffic ticket.

During its first committee hearing, the bill made some lawmakers wary that the proposal could violate someone’s rights if officers end up using a drone to search someone without a warrant or their consent. Under Florida law, police can’t use drones to record someone without their permission. Officers also can’t use drones to gather evidence or other information. But there are already exceptions to those rules. Wright’s bill would add a few more. They include allowing state agencies to assess damage from a natural disaster and manage vegetation or wildlife on public lands. Sen. Tom Wright (R-Orange Park) is pushing the bill. He says drones may able to see things an officer’s eye can’t.

“It gives you an aerial view of the crime scene itself. Sometimes it can provide a better look using the flare that’s on there for heat detection and also to be able to look at the entire crime scene from a higher elevation,” Wright says.

He hopes the drones could spot potential hazards and save officer’s lives.

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