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Politics

Governor Brown vetoes bill on law enforcement restricted use of drones




The Federal Aviation Administration is scheduled to release proposed guidelines on how police departments are allowed to use small drones.
The Federal Aviation Administration is scheduled to release proposed guidelines on how police departments are allowed to use small drones.
Photo by Gary Winterboer. Courtesy AeroVironment, Inc., www.avinc.com.

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One of the bills that California Governor Jerry Brown vetoed this weekend would have placed restrictions on the use of drones by law enforcement and other government agencies.

The measure had passed the state senate and assembly with broad support.

So why didn't it become law? For more, Southern California Public Radio reporter Erika Aguilar explains.

INTERVIEW HIGHLIGHTS 

What exactly did this bill call for?

The bill said a law enforcement agency could not use a drone without obtaining a warrant. There were exceptions—a fire, hostage crisis, hot pursuit. Also any kind of data collected—footage, pictures, any type of data would have to be destroyed within a year or get some sort of exception to keep that data.

Why did Brown veto this if it had broad support?

He sent out a release. He said there are undoubtedly circumstances where a warrant is appropriate but he said this bill had exceptions and those exceptions appeared to be too narrow and could impose requirements beyond what is required under either the 4th amendment—unreasonable searches and seizures—or the privacy provisions in California's Constitution already cover these things and so he felt the exceptions for the public agencies who could use drones were too narrow.

So what are the short-term implications? Can agencies use drones as they wish?

Any public agency that wants a drone needs to ask for a permit from the FAA. So that’s still a little bit of time. LAPD has two drones. They'll have to go through a process in which they get a permit that says, 'Yes you can have a drone and you can fly it here and this high and this low.'

So once they have a drone it's kind of free reign?

Yes and it's really up to the public agencies. This is where a lot of civil rights advocates have stepped in and said legislatures need to put in some kind of limitations.

If there's no boundaries then why wouldn't the LAPD apply for a bunch of permits and fly drones all over?

It might be bad for public perception. These two mini choppers (for the LAPD) came from the Seattle Police Department and in Seattle the public was outraged to hear that they got two mini choppers, or drones, and the city council said 'We don’t want to do this anymore' and they locked them away and don’t use them anymore. So it could be bad for public perception and LAPD if they use them however.