North Dakota just became the first state to legalise taser drones. Shocking.
The Daily Beast reports that the state's House Bill 1328 was designed in response to concerns over the militarisation of police. The bill requires police to obtain a warrant before searching for evidence in a criminal investigation. The bill also originally prohibited the use of any weapons on drones, but that changed following a big push by lobbyists:
Then Bruce Burkett of North Dakota Peace Officer's Association was allowed by the state house committee to amend HB 1328 and limit the prohibition only to lethal weapons. "Less than lethal" weapons like rubber bullets, pepper spray, tear gas, sound cannons, and Tasers are therefore permitted on police drones.
It seems the police department in Grand Forks has two drones on loan from a California manufacturer. The sheriff in town didn't like the idea that he should have to get a warrant to perform surveillance on citizens. But as the Beast points out, the department has been less than transparent about how many missions they have run and for what purpose.
Besides law enforcement, state business interests like the North Dakota Department of Commerce opposed the legislation. The state's economy has been down in the dumps recently, and the hope is that a little unregulated airborne industry could help move things along.
Are you ready for the unmanned aerial future of militarised policing? We'll see how many more states follow North Dakota's lead.