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Bill Filed to Ban Police from Using Drones To Gather Evidence Anywhere in Florida

| December 7, 2012

Some Florida lawmakers aren’t interested in seeing unmanned drones in the Sunshine State’s skies. (Jim Sher)

Police anywhere in Florida would be prohibited from using un-manned drones to gather evidence or other information, under a bill filed Thursday by a Senate Republican.

The Federal Aviation Authority has begun allowing police departments across the country to use remote control aircraft, or drones, and some are starting to. Miami Police were the first agency in the nation to do so.

Police in Miami have been testing drones since 2009, using two 18-pound aircraft, one bought with a grant from the federal government, but have typically only flown the drones over the Everglades and below 400 feet.

The bill (SB 92), filed by Sen. Joe Negron, R-Stuart, would allow the use of drones to counter terrorism risks, but would prevent police from using them to take pictures that would be used as evidence.

“I support using drones to kill terrorists in Pakistan and Afghanistan,” Negron said. “But they shouldn’t be used to spy on American citizens.… If the police get a search warrant, and they have probable cause to believe a crime’s occurring, that’s fine. But I’m very opposed to making it a general practice to spy on law-abiding Floridians.”

People who learn that police are using them in such a way may be able to sue the agency, and the evidence wouldn’t be admissible, under the proposal. Negron said he already has lined up a House sponsor, and said he’ll work hard to pass the measure this year.

The use of drones by police is generally opposed by the ACLU, which released a report a year ago calling for limits on their use, and warning that drones may “profoundly change the character of public life,” especially as they become more sophisticated. The Republican Party also had a line in its platform this year supporting limits on aerial surveillance, and there have been bills filed at the federal level to restrict them.

Earlier this year, President Barack Obama signed federal legislation that requires the Federal Aviation Administration to plan for the safe integration of civilian drones into the nation’s airspace by 2015.


Negron said he doesn’t know how common it is in Florida – or even if any police agencies other than Miami’s are using them. But he also said he’s not confident police departments would even tell citizens if they were.

Drones, also known as unmanned aerial vehicles, have also been used in the same ways traditional aircraft have been used for aerial photography: to document environmental damage, even to monitor traffic.
But as the New York Times reported in July, the military has used drones outside of its own bases to track civilian cars–as practice missions for its drone pilots. The military is not allowed to use civilian airspace without an FAA license, yet drone records released this week, and revealed by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, paint a vastly different picture.

Drones have a poor safety record, too. “A review of thousands of pages of unclassified Air Force investigation reports, obtained by The Washington Post under public-records requests, shows that drones flying from civilian airports have been plagued by setbacks,” the Post reported last week. “Among the problems repeatedly cited are pilot error, mechanical failure, software bugs in the “brains” of the aircraft and poor coordination with civilian air-traffic controllers.”

Opponents of their use by police agencies say some civilian uses may be OK, but Americans have a basic interest in not being secretly photographed by the government.

“There’s a healthy tension between security and liberty and we’ve gone way in the wrong direction in the way of violating our rights,” Negron said.

–News Service of Florida and FlaglerLive

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23 Responses for “Bill Filed to Ban Police from Using Drones To Gather Evidence Anywhere in Florida”

  1. Nancy N. says:

    Wow, a Republican and the ACLU agree on something? Is there a defibrillator in the house, ’cause I think I need one…

  2. Jethro says:

    Where do I sign ? NEVER EVER allow your government and state law enforcement permission to use military equipment against their own citizens. If they start that then watch how many private citizens militias start up here in Florida.

  3. Deep South says:

    When’s open season ?

  4. rickg says:

    I wonder if Negron supported the Governor’s policy of drug testing Welfare recipients and state employees without cause? If so he’s being inconsistent at the least.

  5. Ben Dover says:

    I`m glad they are trying to put their foot down on the use of drones , Daytona`s name calling top cop, was already busy trying to get his hands on them, bad enough these red light camera`s are on every corner here in town , but we have 20 or more banks in town with camera`s , every convenience store , Walmart , Beal`s Lowe`s , Home Depot, no matter where you go in this country ,your on camera, our cell phones are tracked our computers hacked ,Big Brother is watching , our civil liberties have been slowly but surely taken away in this country , and this greedy city counsel wants 52 of these devises , and for what? to rob us with them plain and simple , just like they tell us what we can and can t do in our own yards, Land of the Free, my butt , they are turning Palm Coast into Nazi Germany.

  6. ReticleBill says:

    Look…Up in the air
    Its a Bird…Its a Plane
    No…..Its DRONE MAN

    Faster then a squad of cops
    More powerful than a platoon of Marines

    Disguised as the mild manner GRIM REAPER

  7. DoubleGator says:

    Much to do about nothing. Drones aren’t automated. There is a person flying each one. What’s the differnece between them and a cop following you in a car (bicycle, moped, horse), or a sheriff’s helicopter (or regular airplane) with a camera? Nothing. Let’s just drum fear in the citizens Mr. Negron. I think the red light cameras at every intersection are a bigger pain in the __mirror.

    • Nancy N. says:

      A police officer in a car is operating on a street and has a very limited field of vision. The helicopter or airplane is usually only deployed for a specific security operation like pursuing a suspect because of the expense. The drones are desired for law enforcement because they are affordable to use for general surveillance. And air-based surveillance, as opposed to a ground officer, can see a huge area, expanding the level of surveillance a community is experiencing, and into areas like fenced backyards that would otherwise be considered private.

    • Ben Dover says:

      @double Umm people have fences around their yards for a reason, you want to lay out and get a tan without tan lines , or you want to skinny dip in your pool or make love in your hot tub , these planes take that privacy away from you , and its the only privacy people have left, because people like you, who say ….duh what difference does it make,

  8. blondee says:

    Nobody pilots a drone!!!!

    • Nancy N. says:

      Incorrect. Drones do not have a pilot ON BOARD. They are still piloted, just via remote control.

    • Ben Dover says:

      its the camera on board that we are objecting to blondee, they have video of everything the camera see`s which is worse then if it was just a pilot flying over head

  9. w.ryan says:

    There is finally opposition to Gestapo tactics taking hold by our Governments? People do have privacy rights after all.

  10. Clint says:

    Don’t get me started with these god dam* flying spy camera’s. What has happened to AMERICA ?????
    Wake up people before you and your children are put in containment camps for ‘Your own Good”.
    Police have turned into little NAZI brown boots. Government has reach the FINAL limit of privacy invasion of its own citizens…….Paul Revere will ride again very soon in America !!!!!!!!

    • NortonSmitty says:

      And before he can memorize “One if by land, Two if by sea” or our 21st Century Paul Revere gets one Furlong from the barn, his horse will get “Three if by air, an AGM-114 Hellfire missile (TM Lockheed/Martin) fired from a MQ-1 Predator (TM,General Atomics) unmanned aerial vehicle right up his equine terrorist supporting ass!

      Because thanks to the Department of Homeland Security and the farsighted provisions enacted by our Leaders that keep us safe like the NDAA, we have been tracking this terrorist and his revolutionary mob for years. In fact the FBI not only infiltrated the so-called Patriot revolutionists, they helped organize, fund and guide them from the beginning. Although they do not directly take credit for it, they do not deny deftly steering these violent criminals into the destructive but largely symbolic dumping of tea in Boston Harbor instead of who know what more destructive endeavors. God bless our protectors seen and unseen who unleashed this digital guardian Angel, precision-guided by GPS and the blessed Invisible Hands of Jesus and the Free Market to this evil equine sphincter and it’s terrorist rider. Because We Have To Protect Our Freedom and The Children!

      Clint, hate to tell you this but I think you and your fellow Neo-Libertarians are a little late to the table on this subject. It’s too late now. Where you been? Now that we have someone in the White House you disagree with you gonna’ pay attention? It took the Socialist and Birth Certificate shit to get you to look past the Happy News and see that something isn’t right behind the curtain? And even though anybody who was paying attention, Left, Right, Lib or Anarchist has been screaming about this systematic, planned and relentless erosion of our liberties and the transfer of power to the Authorities since it started thirty years ago, you now come to the conclusion it must be new a plot by Obama and the commies? WTF?

      It started in the Reagan Revolution (used to think it was just a boast) and we have been building the magnificent security machine since. Fed money that used to go to cities and county leaders to build parks, libraries and improve communities suddenly went directly to Sheriffs to build jails and prisons at an unprecedented rate in the War on Drugs, Drunks and Domestic Violence. Until we have enough cells to hold the largest prison population in history! However you want to count it, Total number of inmates, inmates per capita, whatever We’re #1! Over the Soviets under Stalin, South Africa under apartheid, China and Mao, we have close to double the Prisoners. USA,USA! And they hate us for our freedoms.

      But just like they weren’t really worried about drug dealers and drunk drivers then, they really aren’t worried about terrorists today. They are worried about us. All those cells occupied by small time crooks dealers, drunks and wife beaters will be emptied in days to make room for the leaders of any type of uprising like the ones that toppled Egypt, Tunisia or even Moscow in ’90. It’s all on paper. If you don’t believe me, Google Rex84 or COG Plan (Continuity of Government). Dig deep because the first pages downplay it, but it’s still pretty scary there.

      And since every meter maid has body armor and an MP4 and even Barny and Andy have at least one armored personnel carrier in every Podunk Police force in the country, good luck with that Paul Revere thing. Ten years ago, maybe a long shot. Not today.

      • Clint says:

        The American Patriot WON the revolutionary war. In nam, charlie won because he fought the same way. The UNDERGROUND lives. And will RISE when the time comes !

    • I.M. Agoste says:

      Probably not. Revere’s horse got booted.

  11. glad fly says:

    maybe palm coast will get a drone and spy on it’s citizens. nothing surprises me anymore with this place. oh well,i’m about to round the family up and go shopping in daytona or st.augustine. i haven’t decided yet. they don’t have red light cameras there.

  12. glad fly says:

    i remember a cheech and chong movie where they installed a screen over their grow house area outdooors in the shape and color of a swimming pool so the police helicopters couldn’t see what they were doing…. brilliant!!!!!!!!!!

  13. Sea dog says:

    I dont have a problem with the drones,,, matter of fact I like the idea of them patrolling a neighbor hood looking for burglars, a lost kid, and hundreds of other ways they might be of help..

    • NortonSmitty says:

      You forgot they can spot kittens stuck in trees better too!

    • Ben Dover says:

      I just read an article where they want to put little black boxes in all new cars, do you know what that would do to our insurance rates , you morons on here freely giving up your civil rights to privacy ,have no idea how bad losing them all will come back and bite you in your simple minded butts , I am so glad your opinions have no stake in this matter , this country is turning into a police state, they monitor our every move and its because people like sit back and say so what do I care , I have no life , they can fly over my house all day , well some of us do have lives, and we have brains , we know there are corrupt people out there that abuse technology like this , look at our city counsel 52 red camera cams ,rigging the lights , you guys just don t get it our freedoms are being slowly but surely taken away if this keeps up , its going to turn into a bad sci fi movie where robots have taken all our jobs , we`ll have micro chips implanted in our bodies tracking our every move, camera`s in our Tv recording everything we do in our houses , wake up , do you really want to live in a world like that, you probably wont see it , but your children and grand children will , stop and think before you ,so mindlessly say duh I don t care

  14. Howard Duley says:

    hey, they can fly over my house all day long if they want to. my neighbors might get upset due to the tite turns the drone may have to make to stay right over my property.

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