Ala. lawmakers introduce bill to restrict unmanned drones - WSFA.com: News Weather and Sports for Montgomery, AL.

Ala. lawmakers introduce bill to restrict unmanned drones

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This is an example of one of the unmanned drones owned by the Gadsden Police Department. Courtesy AeroVironment, Inc. www.avinc.com This is an example of one of the unmanned drones owned by the Gadsden Police Department. Courtesy AeroVironment, Inc. www.avinc.com
Sen. Scott Beason is co-sponsoring a bill that would regulate and restrict law enforcement agencies' use of drones. Sen. Scott Beason is co-sponsoring a bill that would regulate and restrict law enforcement agencies' use of drones.
Senate Bill 317 calls for these limitations on unmanned drones. Senate Bill 317 calls for these limitations on unmanned drones.
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BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) -

Alabama lawmakers concerned about unmanned drones are looking to limit their use by law enforcement in Alabama.

A bill has been introduced in the state legislature regulating and restricting their use by law enforcement and other government agencies.

Last year the Gadsden Police Department unveiled their unmanned drones. At that time, Gadsden Captain Regina May touted the use of the drones especially in making drug busts.

She said the drones can also be used "also for intelligence and surveillance, in areas where it's hard to get there and see with your own eyes, without being observed."

Howevere, some Alabama lawmakers have concerns with the drones.

Gardendale Senator Scott Beason is co-sponsoring Senate Bill 317 by Huntsville Senator Paul Sanford. The bill would put limits on the use of drones in Alabama by government agencies.

Under the bill's restrictions, drones could only be used if there was a high risk of terrorist threator an imminent threat to life. The bill also states that law enforcement officers must obtain a warrant and if there is any violation of the law, any evidence gathered would not be admissible in court.

"I think it's important that we realize if law enforcement is going to be doing surveillance activity on people, there needs to be a warrant, there needs to be a process and a set of guidelines in place," Beason said.

Last year the Gadsden Police Department tried to reassure people about the drones use.

"We would use it for a specific mission, for a specific purpose, and not to look in people's blinds. We just don't have the time or the manpower or even the desire, you know, to do something like that. So that's definitely way off the chart," May said.

Still, Beason believes Alabama voters want to see the bill passed into law.

"I don't think this is one of those issues where the people of the state of Alabama think that law enforcement should be flying drones all over the state just looking for people, just watching folk. I don't think that is what they need to be doing," Beason said.

So far there about 36 states that have introduced legislation attempting to restrict the use of drones.

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