Brevard Senator Tom Wright files bill to allow law enforcement to use drones

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Central Florida Republican Senator Tom Wright (District 14) filed Senate Bill 44. It would allow law enforcement to use drones to monitor large crowds, assist with traffic control and collect crime scene evidence.

Currently it is illegal for a Florida law enforcement agency to use a drone to gather evidence or other information.

Under the 2013 state law, law enforcement cannot legally use a drone in Florida “to record an image of privately owned real property or of the owner, tenant, occupant, invitee, or licensee of such property with the intent to conduct surveillance on the individual or property captured in the image in violation of such person’s reasonable expectation of privacy without his or her written consent.”

Wright’s bill would allow drones to be used to give law enforcement an aerial perspective of a crowd of at least 50 people. They would also be allowed to assist with traffic management, although the bill prohibits police from issuing “a traffic infraction citation based on images or video captured by a drone.”

The proposed bill would allow drone technology to collect evidence at a crime scene or traffic crash scene and for the assessment of damage caused by a flood, wildfire or any other natural disaster. Drones would also be allowed to assist in vegetation or wildlife management on publicly owned land or water.

Republican Senator Joe Gruters (District 23) proposed similar legislation (Senate Bill 520) last year, but it ultimately died over bipartisan concerns of violating 4th Amendment rights, protecting a citizen from unreasonable searches and seizures.

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