Law enforcement officials and lawmakers in Connecticut are arguing in the state’s capital this week over the use of armed drones for policing purposes, WTIC-TV in Hartford reported.
Lawmakers Monday came to Hartford to discuss a ban on civilians weaponizing drones. Tuesday, lawmakers came together to discuss a separate bill to limit the use of drones by civilians and police, including a limit on using drones with mounted cameras after concerns about privacy were raised.
The legislation would force police to get a warrant before using a drone in many instances. While privacy rights were a big concern, police said that using drones could help them in their duties and make the public safer.
"We've had a report that somebody's going to fly a drone into an airplane, into an engine, or it's a weaponized drone," Farmington Police Chief Paul Melanson said, according to WTIC-TV. "We're concerned, and we don't have those answers yet."
The American Civil Liberties Union testified in favor of a bill that would increase the privacy rights of Connecticut residents. About 15 states already have laws on the books to force police to get a warrant before using surveillance drones.
“Whether police are using a technology that is one hundred years or one hundred days old, people need and deserve to have their rights protected. Just as it is unconstitutional for a police officer to walk through your house without a warrant, it should be unconstitutional for police to videotape your family by sending a drone up to your window,” David McGuire, legislative and policy director for the ACLU of Connecticut, said in a statement.
Drone-mounted flamethrower, handgun reignite lawmaker debate in Connecticut https://t.co/Pr8NhGfLi3
— Daily Mail US (@DailyMail) February 29, 2016
During Monday’s session, a Connecticut teen whose viral videos of him equipping drones with handguns and a flamethrower helped re-ignite the drone debate in the state testified against the bills. Austin Haughwout said during his short testimony it would prevent the mounting of weapons on drones as a hobby, the Hartford Courant reported.