Move to Ground Police Drones Approved by Senate Committee
February 7, 2013 | WMFE - A bill to ban the use of surveillance drones by police in Florida is a step closer to becoming law. The bill, which passed in its second reading Wednesday, would still allow police to use the small, unmanned aircraft in extreme circumstances.
The Senate Community Affairs Committee passed the bill unanimously although several members said they would consider exceptions for police to use the unmanned craft in limited emergencies.
The Orange County Sheriff’s Office has already purchased two of the drones for about $25 thousand dollars each.
The bill’s sponsor, Republican Sen. Joe Negron of Stuart, originally wanted to ban all use of drones but agreed to a compromise allowing police to use them in extreme circumstances such as a hostage crisis or terrorist threat.
Police want to expand that exemption further to include surveillance of large crowds such as parades or football bowl games.
Negron says he would vote against his own bill if it included an amendment to allow use of the drones for crowd control.
If the bill becomes law, Florida would be the first state to ban the use of police surveillance drones.