The Connecticut Legislature is considering allowing the police to operate armed drones with deadly force. The debate has sparked both outrage and support from citizens and officials, as it places the issues of liberty and security in striking relief.
Security minded police recognize the obvious benefits to law enforcement, which would be able to use drones from a distance insuring their own safety, while monitoring or controlling threats from citizens from afar. Civil libertarians and the ACLU picture the exact same scenario, but from the other end of the drone/barrel.
David McGuire, Executive Director of the state ACLU, notes that it will become easier to deploy the use of force: “There’s a level of separation that makes it almost video game like where they’re detached from the actual situation”.
“There’s a level of separation that makes it almost video game like where they’re detached from the actual situation”
Clearly, we are entering a bold new world of technology. As a society, we must have a debate about the relationship between order and chaos, freedom and control. The police using armed drones throws that debate into high, and very real, debate.
The Connecticut lawmakers are well aware of this. Many of them on the Judiciary Committee passed the bill through committee in order to encourage a public debate. They were not in favor of the measure, but wanted citizens to know that this subject is under discussion in their government today. It’s not science fiction anymore, it is here now. Some members of the Committee felt it was time that the public was made aware of the real world conflicts at the interstices of advanced weapons, security, and freedom.
The bill in question bans the use of deadly force drones, but exempts police from the ban. If the law passes as written, it would make Connecticut the only state in the country in which deadly force is permitted from drones. North Dakota allows police to use non-lethal weaponized drones. Five states prohibit anyone from using weaponized drones at all, while Maine and Virginia prohibit police from using weaponized drones.
“Obviously, this is for very limited circumstances”
Some who are in favor of arming drones with deadly force, point out that they only support it for “exceptional” circumstances. As Fox News reported, State Senator John Kissel (Rep) of Enfield, and co -chair of the Judiciary Committee said, “Obviously, this is for very limited circumstances. We can certainly envision some incident on some campus or someplace where someone is a rogue shooter or someone was kidnapped and you try to blow out a tire”.
Unfortunately, exceptions have a nasty habit of becoming norms.
Bold Business will be covering this issue as it develops. Next week, look for a major story examining the use of drones by civilian police in the U.S.