Legislation to expand police drone use raises civil liberties questions
For the third straight Legislative Session, state Rep. Clay Yarborough, a Jacksonville Republican in his second term, filed legislation about drones.
His new bill (HB 75) would allow law enforcement to use unmanned aircraft as a “tool in the toolbox” to get perspective on traffic accidents, to collect evidence at a crime scene, and to assist in crowd control at public events such as concerts.
Yarborough says police support the concept, and that Florida Statute 934.50 ensures that the bill would not be used for warrantless surveillance.
At least one group feels differently, asserting that the bill as written presents an “end-run around judicial warrant requirements.”
“A similar bill was introduced last session and passed the House and several Senate Committees. In order to ensure that drones are not used to circumvent the judicial warrant requirement, an amendment would need to be added ensuring that such activity was pursuant to a probable cause warrant or a judicially recognized exception to warrant requirements,” asserted Kara Gross, Legislative Director & Senior Policy Counsel for the Florida chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union.
Yarborough is open to something along those lines in the committee process.
As Gross asserted, Yarborough’s current