North Dakota has approved the use of Tasers and other non-lethal weapons on police drones. Exactly how a drone could deliver a jolt of voltage to an unruly person or turn back a mob with bean bags wasn't spelled out in the legislation.
The bill passed by lawmakers in April sets drone guidelines for law enforcement for the first time, according to the Bismarck Tribune
The original measure banned arming drones with "lethal" and "non-lethal" weapons, but the bill that finally passed allows police to use non-lethal types of weapons. The North Dakota Peace Officers Association fought to change the bill allowing law enforcement to use the drones for non-lethal use, according to WDAY-TV
Rick Majerus of the peace officers association downplayed the weaponizing of drones and focused on surveillance and search uses.
"You have to have a search warrant just like any other time, plus we never wanted to arm a drone anyway," Majerus told WDAY-TV. "Our big thing is, you know, look for a lost child, look for an autism type person, or a person that walks away that doesn't know where they are."
The Daily Beast
said non-lethal police weapons, such as Tasers, have been linked to 39 deaths in 2015. The website said that other non-lethal weapons, such as bean bags, rubber bullets and tear gas canisters have maimed people.
North Dakota State Rep. Becker, sponsor of the bill, said while he disagreed with drones being armed at all, non-lethal weapons were a change he was willing to accept.
"This is one I'm not in full agreement with," said Becker. "I wish it was not any weapon. In my opinion there should be a nice, red line: Drones should not be weaponized. Period."
Becker said the bill's original goal was to enshrine limits on how law enforcement could use drones.
"What I wanted was there to be a very clear line on how our liberties can be protected with the new advances in technology," said Becker.
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