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What are your thoughts on drones used in state?

Staff Report • Mar 22, 2013 at 10:59 AM

Should the use of airborne drones be banned in Tennessee? A freshman state lawmaker thinks they should be, but law enforcement officials are not so keen on the idea.

As The Associated Press reported this week, state Rep. Micah Van Huss, R-Jonesborough, is sponsoring the “Freedom from Unwarranted Surveillance Act,” which would prohibit law enforcement agencies from using drones to gather evidence. There are exceptions to the bill, however, such as officials using the unmanned aircraft to combat terrorism — but only if a judge signs a search warrant authorizing the use of a drone, or if officials are certain there is an imminent danger.

The legislation also says any evidence collected in clear violation of the drone measure is prohibited from being used in criminal cases.

The AP reported in a story that appeared in this newspaper Thursday: “Few law enforcement agencies in the state actually possess or use the technology, although agencies have argued that drones can be a useful and cost-effective alternative when using personnel would be dangerous or timely.”

While the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation contracted for the use of drones for two missing persons cases, the state does not currently own a remote-controlled airplane. Even so, TBI spokeswoman Kristin Helm said her agency wants “there to be more exceptions for law enforcement” in the drone bill.

You can “Sound off” on this topic by sharing your thoughts on drones with us.

Send your comments to Mailbag, P.O. Box 1717 Johnson City, TN 37605-1717, or [email protected] Please include your name, telephone number and address for verification.

We will print your responses on the Opinion pages in the coming weeks.

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