Connecticut may become first U.S. state
to allow deadly police drones
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[April 01, 2017]
By Barbara Goldberg
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Connecticut would
become the first U.S. state to allow law enforcement agencies to use
drones equipped with deadly weapons if a bill opposed by civil
libertarians becomes law.
The legislation, approved overwhelmingly by the state legislature's
judiciary committee on Wednesday, would ban so-called weaponized drones
in the state but exempts agencies involved in law enforcement. It now
goes to the House of Representatives for consideration.
The legislation was introduced as a complete ban on weaponized drones
but just before the committee vote it was amended to exclude police from
Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy, a Democrat, was reviewing the
proposal, "however in previous years he has not supported this concept,"
spokesman Chris Collibee wrote in an email.
Civil libertarians and civil rights activists are lobbying to restore
the bill to its original language before the full House vote.
"Data shows police force is disproportionately used on minority
communities, and we believe that armed drones would be used in urban
centers and on minority communities," said David McGuire, executive
director of the American Civil Liberties Union in Connecticut.
"That's not the kind of precedent we want to set here," McGuire said of
the prospect that Connecticut would become the first state to allow
police to use lethally armed drones.
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In 2015, North Dakota became the first state to permit law
enforcement agencies to use armed drones but limited them to "less
than lethal" weapons such as tear gas and pepper spray.
So far, 36 states have enacted laws restricting drones and an
additional four states have adopted drone limits, according to the
National Conference of State Legislatures.
If Connecticut's Democratic-controlled House passes the bill it will
move to the Senate, which is split evenly between Democrats and
Representative William Tong, a Democrat from Stamford, nor Senator
John Kissel, a Republican from Enfield, who are co-chairs of the
Judiciary Committee, were not immediately available for comment.
(Editing by Frank McGurty and James Dalgleish)
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