Connecticut Lawmakers Vote To Give Police Drones With Guns

from the Death-From-Above-2017 dept

Connecticut’s legislature has managed to back into legalizing law enforcement use of weaponized drones. In writing a new drone law, lawmakers banned the use of weaponized drones, but made an exception for police. It’s not a case of “Hey, let’s give the cops weaponized drones!” as much as it is a case of not wanting law enforcement to be unable to have that option.

As for how police will or won’t be able to deploy weaponized drones, that’s still up in the air (I am so sorry):

Details on how law enforcement could use drones with weapons would be spelled out in new rules to be developed by the state Police Officer Standards and Training Council. Officers also would have to receive training before being allowed to use drones with weapons.

All well and good, but police officers also receive training in things like civil liberties and proper force deployment, and we see daily how much good that has done. The more encouraging parts of the bill — one that would see Connecticut join North Dakota in police use of weaponized drones — are the reporting requirements and warrant stipulation.

It would require police to get a warrant before using a drone, unless there are emergency circumstances or the person who is the subject of the drone use gives permission. It also would require police to report yearly on how often they use drones and why, and create new crimes and penalties for criminal use of drones, including voyeurism.

Unfortunately, Connecticut’s bill isn’t as limited as North Dakota’s. North Dakota’s forbids the use of lethal weapons, but it’s easy to see some less-than-lethal rounds becoming much more lethal when fired from a few hundred feet in the air. This bill would allow lethal force to be deployed from police drones. One lawmaker sees a pretty rosy future for airborne police weaponry.

“Obviously this is for very limited circumstances,” said Republican state Sen. John Kissel, of Enfield, co-chairman of the Judiciary Committee that approved the measure Wednesday and sent it to the House of Representatives. “We can certainly envision some incident on some campus or someplace where someone is a rogue shooter or someone was kidnapped and you try to blow out a tire.”

The problem with tools like these is they lend themselves to mission creep and abuse. Certainly, no law enforcement agency wants to take home the record for “First Civilian Killed by a Drone,” but once the seal’s broken, lethal force becomes easier and easier to deploy.

And it’s not as though this is a necessary step to take. Law enforcement often complains about being left behind in the tech race, but it’s not as though criminals are taking to the air and endangering citizens with weaponized drones. This would put the police ahead of everybody and move them one step closer to being a military force. And there’s no warrant in existence that grants police the license to kill — only to apprehend.

But that might be good enough for airborne Drug Warriors, etc. who believe many criminal acts are punishable by death, should the suspect be unwilling to immediately surrender himself into custody. We’ve seen plenty of senseless death and destruction stemming from overuse of vehicle pursuits. This is the next step: flying guns shooting at suspects as they flee through “civilian” traffic. Law enforcement officers aren’t great shots with both feet planted on the ground. Giving them a gun in the air is a bad idea.

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Comments on “Connecticut Lawmakers Vote To Give Police Drones With Guns”

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44 Comments
Roger Strong (profile) says:

Re: above the law

Relax. With ever-increasing battery energy density, soon the drones can be launched from a central location rather than by hand from a nearby squad car. No local human assistance required.

That means they can be controlled by outsourced labor in another country. Heck, people sitting in California have been tele-killing people via drones in Afghanistan and Yemen for years!

Outsourced drone pilots will be far cheaper than police officers, there’ll be no police union, and they’re easy to replace with another anonymous hire if they screw up. It makes deflecting the blame in a wrongful death a lot easier too.

They might even locate the drone “call centers” in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen to provide jobs as part of the rebuilding process. Abundant cheap labor; folks who have already been taught the concepts and potential of drone operations.

The outsourced drone cops won’t be normal citizens or government employees. Equality problem solved.

Hope This Helps!

Wyrm (profile) says:

“… or the person who is the subject of the drone use gives permission.”

I can imagine the situation there: “sir, do you allow us to shoot you with an armed drone?”

“And there’s no warrant in existence that grants police the license to kill — only to apprehend.”

No need for a warrant when you know that no judge will find a cop guilty of murder.

Mike-2 Alpha (profile) says:

Re: Re:

“Yes, your honour. We did deploy our drone without applying for a warrant, but it was for the purpose of surveilling our Confidential Informant.

Through the use of the drone, we followed the CI to the meeting. At that point, the drone’s cameras allowed the officers to observe the suspect reaching for what they believed to be a weapon.

Believing their informant’s life to be in immediate danger, the officers activated the drone’s weapon and engaged. The suspect was struck four times in the chest and head with small arms fire and died at the scene.”

And that’s only the first way to skin the “permission to use” cat that I thought of off the top of my head.

Anonymous Coward says:

Dallas Sniper killed by robot

Wasn’t the killing of the sniper in Dallas the first police use of a drone to kill someone here? A drone is a remotely operated device. Flying isn’t a requirement.

It is just another ratchet in the power being removed from the people of the police state of America.

If your police department finds itself in a situation where they think they need remote controlled weapon platforms, they need to step back and let someone else handle it.

Anonymous Coward says:

—Certainly, no law enforcement agency wants to take home the record for “First Civilian Killed by a Drone,”—

Are you sure about that? I bet more than 50% of law enforcement would actually herald it stating that they were able to use advanced technology to keep officers safe so they can easily put down… erm criminals… from a position of safety, yea that’s right!

Like the first AC said… the police should not be allowed to use anything a civilian cannot use. Otherwise you just created a work around of the posse comitatus act. Which, is just exactly what they have been working for.

Only a corrupt government sees the need to give its forces an armed advantage over its civilians.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

The government clearly is afraid of its citizens. We hear over and over that they were afraid that x would happen, and absolutely had to use lethal force to ease that fear. We need to stop hiring cowards and enforce the rights violations regardless of the person being on one side or the other of the “thin blue line”(of hate).

Nathan F says:

Blow out a tire on a fleeing vehicle? What the hell kind of drones are they planning on using that can carry the weight of a weapon powerful enough to put down a suspect (shoot out a tire) and keep up with a car doing 50+mph? Are they going to have a Predator or Reaper circling around the incident zone with a stabilized gyro rifle mount, oh wait.. military surplus sold off cheap to law enforcement agencies says yes they will be.

Anonymous Coward says:

Kinetic energy

“North Dakota’s forbids the use of lethal weapons, but it’s easy to see some less-than-lethal rounds becoming much more lethal when fired from a few hundred feet in the air.”

A drone free-falling from that height IS a lethal weapon, something that is consistently overlooked in all these analyses. And a drone accelerating downward under power could do a lot of damage.

Anonymous Coward says:

Yeah, it is a story, but why. Practically speaking, a weaponized drone isn’t really a reality. The military and CIA face a shortage of drone qualified pilots, where would they get people to fly them?

Plus, one would imagine that the police wouldn’t use the same type of drones as the military/CIA. Not like they will be targeting crooks with missiles. Shooting an individual person with a bullet is a little more difficult than shooting a building or vehicle with a missile.

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