Police State

Wyoming Considering Banning Law Enforcement from Using Drones Without a Warrant

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If you’re concerned about the eye in the sky and happen to be in Wyoming, you may find some relief soon enough.

According to the Associated Press via Fox News, the Wyoming Legislature’s Joint Judiciary Committee will hear a draft bill this week that would ban the warrantless use of drones by law enforcement. If approved, the entire Legislature could consider it in early 2015.

“Basically what it does is it asks that before any law enforcement uses a drone for any kind of searches that they get a warrant based on probable cause,” Linda Burt, executive director for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) in Wyoming, told the Associated Press.

Burt also pointed out that the California Legislature has passed similar measures. The ball is in Governor Jerry Brown’s court now in The Golden State.

“Most people are looking at the fact that they want government entities to have that kind of authority before they do searches with drones,” Burt told the Associated Press.

“Because drones have such an incredible capability — they can be as tiny as a fly, or as big as a plane — we know that they’re going to be used extensively in different kinds of law enforcement endeavors,” she added.

Representative Keith Gingery (R-Jackson) said he believes committee members support the idea of requiring law enforcement to get a warrant before using drones for surveillance.

“Everybody was good with that, because if you have a pretty good reason, and you can explain to a judge why you need a warrant, go ask the judge for a warrant,” he told the Associated Press.

But apparently not everyone believes police use of drones should be restricted. Byron Oedekoven, executive director of the Wyoming Association of Sheriffs and Chiefs of Police, seems to think the issue is overblown.

“What we have proposed is looking at this, saying, `Let’s step back from paranoia and let’s look at drones from the standpoint of what can we do now with an airplane,” he told the Associated Press.

Oedekoven also said that if officers already had probable cause, police could just get a warrant and skip the drone process altogether. He believes requiring a warrant to use drones wouldn’t make sense.

“The standard is high enough that if I meet that standard, I don’t have to have an unmanned aerial vehicle, I can just go do it,” he said.

Meanwhile, Wyoming wouldn’t be the only state to ban warrantless drone surveillance. Indiana did so earlier this year.