Bill That Was Supposed To Limit Police Drone Activity Changed By Lobbyist To Enable Weaponized Drones


North Dakota state representative Rick Becker had a good idea with his House Bill 1328, which would forbid the use of drones by law enforcement in the state without a warrant.

A few other states have been looking at similar proposals, after there have been growing concerns about police using drones for surveillance activities. Virginia, for example, recently passed a law that requires a warrant for police drone use. So, good idea, Rep. Becker.

Except... in stepped Bruce Burkett, a lobbyist from the North Dakota Peace Officer's Association, who "was allowed by the state house committee to amend HB 1328" to now make it about legalizing weaponized drones for police. Yes, a "peace officer" representative just made it possible to weaponize drones. The trick? He amended the bill to make it only about "lethal weapons," which now opens the door to what police like to refer to as "less than lethal" weapons like "rubber bullets, pepper spray, tear gas, sound cannons, and Tasers" -- some of which have a history of leading to deaths, despite their "less than lethal" claims.

Even “less than lethal” weapons can kill though. At least 39 people have been killed by police Tasers in 2015 so far, according to The Guardian. Bean bags, rubber bullets, and flying tear gas canisters have also maimed, if not killed, in the U.S. and abroad.
Meanwhile, local police are still freaking out about the need to require a warrant. Check out this bit of police state nonsense:
Grand Forks County Sheriff Bob Rost said his department’s drones are only equipped with cameras and he doesn’t think he should need a warrant to go snooping.

“It was a bad bill to start with,” Rost told The Daily Beast. “We just thought the whole thing was ridiculous.”

Rost said he needs to use drones for surveillance in order to obtain a warrant in the first place.
Yes, we need to spy on your first, to then see if we should get a warrant to spy on you some more. That's not how this works.

And, now, while there will be warrant requirements for some uses -- though with broad exceptions including within 25 miles of the US/Canada border and for "exigent circumstances" -- the bill will (thanks to a lobbyist) allow the police to also experiment with weaponizing drones. If you thought the militarization of police wasn't screwed up enough, now you might need to worry about stun guns and rubber bullets hailing down from the sky...

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