Law enforcement may one day use drones

A remote controlled 'drone' (file).

BRANFORD, Conn. (WTNH)– The Branford fire department has already used a drone to help fight a fire, now Branford police talk to News 8 about how it could help them one day.

Public safety VS. right to privacy. It’s a debate that continues among law enforcement. However, with drones becoming more prevalent, police officers are arming themselves with information on how they can get their hands on drones to save lives.

You may see the noisy little gadgets buzzing over you from time to time, recording video without permission. They are a nuisance to some people. But, in the hands of a trained police officer, they could save the life of an officer or someone in need of help.

“Specifically when we are searching for people getting into an area that is very dangerous during an emergency situation,” said Captain Geoffrey Morgan, Branford Police Department.

“I think that the drone idea sounds like a good idea to me,” said Cindy Kuzman of Branford.

Currently, the general public can use drones with little regulation, but the footage obtained by police drones can have long-lasting legal effects.

“We certainly understand that there are some privacy issues that the court will be addressing hopefully this legislative session coming up,” said Morgan.

“I think if they are going above and beyond their scope then it’s not ok,” said Cathy Spigner of Branford. “They shouldn’t be invading any privacy.”

According to a report from the Office of Legislative Research, government use of drones or UAVs, is limited by the 4th Amendment’s laws on “Unreasonable search and seizure”. However, the reports adds, if these legal barriers could be overcome, “The government may have wide latitude in conducting warrant-less surveillance with UAVs”.

The report also used incidents in California, Florida, and another involving Dow Chemical as examples where aircrafts were used in investigations without warrants.

With the Branford fire department is already using drones, it looks like it’s just a matter of time and legislation before police officers will be able to do the same.

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