With people weaponizing drones at home, it should come as no surprise that law enforcement would want in. What could wrong with a weaponized drone right? North Dakota has become the first state to make weaponizing drones, at least for police purposes, legal.
North Dakota just legalized police drones to be outfitted with tasers, pepper spray, and other “non-lethal” weaponry.
As the drone debate continues over right to airspace versus right to privacy, the North Dakota bill is the first that moves the devices from a surveillance and reconnaissance tool into a flying weapon, lethal or not.
What’s interesting here is that the original bill wasn’t drafted to allow for weaponized drones, it originally banned all weapons on police drones.
It is now legal for law enforcement in North Dakota to fly drones armed with everything from Tasers to tear gas thanks to a last-minute push by a pro-police lobbyist.
With all the concern over the militarization of police in the past year, no one noticed that the state became the first in the union to allow police to equip drones with “less than lethal” weapons. House Bill 1328 wasn’t drafted that way, but then a lobbyist representing law enforcement—tight with a booming drone industry—got his hands on it.
The bill’s stated intent was to require police to obtain a search warrant from a judge in order to use a drone to search for criminal evidence. In fact, the original draft of Representative Rick Becker’s bill would have banned all weapons on police drones.
The question that I have is, even though North Dakota specifies non-lethal weapons only, are we pushing the limits of excessive force?
About North Dakota
North Dakota is the 39th state of the United States, having been admitted to the union on November 2, 1889.
It is located in the Upper Midwestern region of the United States, bordered by the Canadian provinces of Saskatchewan and Manitoba to the north, the states of Minnesota to the east, South Dakota to the south, and Montana to the west. The state capital is Bismarck, and the largest city is Fargo. North Dakota is the 19th most extensive but the 4th least populous and the 4th least densely populated of the 50 United States.
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