Police departments in North Dakota will have a new tool to fight crime across the state, thanks to a new law that went into effect on August 1.
Originally aimed at making sure police obtained a search warrant to use drones to seek out criminal evidence, House Bill 1328 was amended to equip drones with non-lethal weapons such as Tasers, tear gas and rubber bullets. Tasers, which stun suspected criminals with jolts of electricity, have actually caused hundreds of deaths in the past decade.
At least one elected official is pushing for the removal of the non-lethal force provision in 2017 and believes drones should not be weaponized.
Although the new legislation is in place, it’s believed that the high cost of sophisticated drone technology may keep weaponized police drones grounded in the short term, according to a story in USA Today. According to the story, one county in North Dakota has two drones, but they are only equipped with cameras.
Another point of debate is the FAA’s policy on using drones to drop objects from the aircraft. The FAA currently has such a ban on civilian aircraft operations but a spokesperson from the FAA says this rule would likely not apply to a law enforcement agency who could apply for a Certificate of Waiver to operate a Taser-equipped unmanned aircraft.
What do you think? Should drones be permitted to be equipped with non-lethal weapons?
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