State Lawmakers Propose Bill That Would Limit Drone Use

By Jeff Saperstone
|  Monday, Feb 24, 2014  |  Updated 10:29 PM EDT
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Drone Bill up for debate

Drone Bill up for debate

Drones are controversial and making headlines, and state lawmakers in Hartford are wasting no time in making sure they're not misused.

"We understand that this technology has great capability to do amazing things but at the same time it can be a very dangerous thing," said Rep. James Albis of East Haven.

The unmanned, remote controlled aircraft are currently banned by the Federal Aviation Administration for commercial use.

Just this month, a news photographer got into a dispute with police for filming an accident scene in Hartford on his personal time.

FAA restrictions could be relaxed next year.

The current bill proposes tough penalties for committing a crime with a drone: 10 years in prison for things like voyeurism, stalking and harassment and up to 20 years for using a drone as a deadly weapon.

"If you're using a drone, it's an enhanced penalty because it's a much easier way to engage in those types of activities," said Albis.

Supporters of drones point out their positive uses for things like taking pictures at scenes that are hard to reach, like fires.

Part of the new state bill also restricts police use. Officers would be required to obtain a warrant for drone use unless it's an emergency.

"If police are able to use drones without any regulations it will drastically change Connecticut communities," said David McGuire, of the American Civil Liberties Union of Connecticut.

The Connecticut Police Chiefs Association is fighting that part of the proposal by saying their helicopters already take pictures at scenes.

"I don't see why we have to be that restrictive just because technology allows us to fly a smaller device," said Chief Anthony Salvatore.

Salvatore is in favor of forming a task force that would to study the issue before any law is passed.

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