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“It is now legal for law enforcement in North Dakota to fly drones armed with everything from Tasers to tear gas thanks to a last-minute push by a pro-police lobbyist,” reports. “Bruce Burkett of North Dakota Peace Officer’s Association was allowed by the state house committee to amend HB 1328 and limit the prohibition only to lethal weapons. ‘Less than lethal’ weapons like rubber bullets, pepper spray, tear gas, sound cannons, and Tasers are therefore permitted on police drones.” On the positive side . . .

the Bill – now signed into law – prohibits the use of aerial footage in criminal prosecutions unless the footage was obtained as part of a search warrant. And it can’t be used to get a search warrant. Subject to certain exceptions (e.g., exigent circumstances, routine monitoring of borders, research or educational flights). So it’s a good law that somehow forgot to prohibit police drones equipped with non-lethal weapons. “Grand Forks County Sheriff Bob Rost said his department’s drones are only equipped with cameras and he doesn’t think he should need a warrant to go snooping.” But he does. Thankfully. [h/t Oneifbyland1776]

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  1. At this point given the range within these would have to be to be effective the best course of action would be to fight through the drone(s) rather than run away.
    These things are not capable of quick movement and remaining on target, yet. Turning, running or hiding would just get you tazed, gassed or whatever. Run at it. Grab for it. Hit it with a stick.
    Certainly though police drones will be protected as police dogs and police officers and destroying a police drone will probably land you on death row.

    • That’s almost exactly what I just said on my FB post about this. Knocking out of the air will be charged as assault on a police officer. Just wait…

    • How am I supposed to know whether or not police are controlling the drone which is currently menacing me? I would be inclined to take out drones even if they had little blue and red flashing lights on them — adding such to any hobby drone would be exceedingly easy.

  2. No Secret Police – 4th Amendment

    There’s a man/woman on the end of that string somewhere. They are forced to eat/sleep somewhere, they have people/stuff they care about. Make sure you provide at least as much nuisance.

    • There is no need to have a man/woman at the end of the string. Drones can be given coordinated fly to, or an op-box to remain in. They can be preprogrammed to fly autonomously to a particular point and loiter. They can be programed to autonomously identify a weapon, and they can be autonomously instructed to fire on a recognized target.
      Since the rounds are non-lethal, I’m sure the justification would be made that the high error rate in autonomously recognizing a weapon or the specific target prior to firing would be acceptable.

      • >>Drones can be given coordinated fly to, or an op-box to remain in.

        …and there’s your man/woman. Just because there’s no one controlling the drone real-time does not mean there’s no one behind it.


        • I would like to see a real world example of a drone that can determine a threat and take action without a human operator. I doubt they exist except in Science Fiction.

        • There isn’t anything that can autonomously identify a threatening action. But you can autonomously recognize a specific person, or a group of people in a specific location. The drone could be programed to engage a specific person as soon as they were identified, or attack anyone in a specific location.

        • You can absolutely make a drone that recognizes a threat and performs some action in that regard. The only question is, how many false positives are you okay with?

      • If it is a programmed to shoot everyone with gun then we may see a rash of cops being attacked by these drones.

      • If there’s not a man/woman on the end of the string (a/k/a: just another of your stupid neighbors who needs a job [your government – now obviously getting more uppity by the day]). Then then absolutely ALL such drones need to be destroyed.

    • No tag, no limit (with appropriate hunting license). Out of State hunting licenses are available.

      If using fishing tackle: No Bait / No tackle Restrictions.

      All Conservation “Catch-and-Release” tagged specimens should be properly dispatched humanely by smashing against the nearest donut shop door.

  3. “Less than lethal” is such a nice meme. Less than lethal except when they’re lethal.

    Why are we upgrading the weaponry of the police, again?

    • Most agencies and trainers have dropped the word “than”. So they are called “Less Lethal”…

      • Yep. That’s since Tasers have been known to kill people. One of the officers I trained hit a combative suspect on PCP multiple times / rides with an X26. He wouldn’t quit fighting until his heart just had enough – and stopped.

    • I question the need for a civilian police force to arm, even with less lethal weapons, a drone. Can a drone fear for it’s life and be justified in the use of force to protect itself?

      I can understand cameras on drones. Don’t approve, but I can understand. But this isn’t a war zone. No arming of drones.

      Or do #dronelivesmatter?

  4. If this happens in Utah I’m going to start carrying a snake gun… 410 shot shells should do nicely.

  5. “Grand Forks County Sheriff Bob Rost said his department’s drones are only equipped with cameras and he doesn’t think he should need a warrant to go snooping.

    “It was a bad bill to start with,” Rost told The Daily Beast. “We just thought the whole thing was ridiculous.”

    Rost said he needs to use drones for surveillance in order to obtain a warrant in the first place.

    “If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear,” Becker remembered opponents like Rost saying.”

    Nice to know the police have such respect for the 4th amendment. Don’t think you need a warrant to conduct drone surveillance? Fine, how about people start snooping around YOUR house with drones, and we’ll see how long you keep up that notion.

    • “”Becker remembered opponents like Rost saying.””
      Wow, that’s horrible reporting. The author didn’t even hear Rost saying that. The author remembers someone like Rost saying that. Who said that? What did they actually say? Another example of why modern reporting is anything but.
      Reminds me of a time when the Dallas Morning News, when reporting about me at a press conference, reported, “if he would have spoken, he likely would have said…” Yup, actually noted that I did not speak, but reported what they thought I would have said if I had spoken.

    • “If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear,”

      Nothing good ever follows that phrase.

  6. Drones don’t use encrypted signals, and their operating bandwidth is pretty narrow, so taking control of one should be pretty easy if you are ready for it. I look down the road and see the advent of miniature SAM sites on houses coming, for the express purpose of shooting down drones, along with hunter/killer drones. The birth of SkyNet will soon become reality!

  7. So.. a little clarification, I’m sitting here typing this, oddly enough, wearing my Lone Star UAS Center for Excellence and Innovation polo shirt. I have been directly involved in sourcing, funding, and creating organizations to develop drones for commercial use in the US. Our primary target was use in energy exploration and inspection, as well as tracking freight and trucking cargo. The safety and efficiency improvements drones could add to these fields is immense.

    It seems that, probably based on the video above, everyone here is thinking of the relatively small drones like the one pictured. I read the bill, and there is no reason to believe that these small, relatively simple drones will be the ones eventually deployed. There are much larger, more complex but more capable drones currently being used. They can fly 50 miles, accurately identify a natural gas leak in a pipeline, and either mark and return or loiter there for 30 minutes or more. Some can simply land and send a signal, taking off again when a ping hits them back, to save fuel. Their signals are indeed encrypted, their cameras are steady enough to accurately identify moving individuals from 50 feet above 75% of the time by face or even by gait, still individuals can go much higher. They can operate completely in the dark, and some of the larger ones have exceptional thermal and night vision cameras with still, sharp pictures. I have even seen a Mk19 successfully attached and launched from one made here in Texas. All of that is going on right now, not in the future.

    There is no reason to assume the versions deployed will be the hobby copter drones the public commonly sees in use.

  8. I could see drones replacing helicopters in certain roles such as search and rescue, and pursuits. I would imagine their maintence costs would be lower.

    However for anything beyond the exigent circumstances listed above, you’d need a warrant. Flying over Billy Bobs farm to look for his pot field constitutes a search, at least in my book.

    Plus how does a person reasonably know that the drone flying over their land isn’t some creep? I wouldn’t be surprised for these things to be shot down, or necessarily blame those who did. There are other more constitutional ways to get the job done if that’s what you want to do.

    There are a few specialized areas where remote controlled robots can be legitimately utilized. An armed barricaded subject is probably the best example. Driving the bot in to communicate and see what’s going on has helped several situations I’ve seen

  9. Bad news. Police are now fully militarized, drones from the sky to attack citizens. A drone can’t differentiate or think. No liberty here, assailant is judged guilty.

  10. “North Dakota Peace Officer’s Association”

    Not surpised union thugs are behind this, add this to the reasons all unions should be banned, especially the public sector leeches.

      • Freedom to demand something by stop working? Freedom to bully people? Freedom to send jobs overseas? We have a freedom of association but unions cross the line.. They are comparable to criminal organizations, in fact some if not most are.

  11. A violation of various amendments. It may be that the drone would be mistaken for a hawk after my livestock. Destruction of government property I can believe, but assault is taking it way too far into the 1984 zone. The feds may send FBI or troops to investigate what was powerful enough and had the range to shoot down one of their drones, but the state? Also, jamming is possible, as I know from r.c. plane flying, so no worries. Just find the frequency and interrupt it. Let the law of physics do the rest.

    • No jamming is necessary. The drone can fly to a location, preplanned and loiter or follow programmed commands. One of those commands could be to locate any electronic signals in the area and follow their source, leading law enforcement to your door.

      • Sounds like jamming is absolutely necessary. None of these things should be permitted to be weaponized. Just wait until such a version is captured by ISIS or some other terrorist group (like DOJ) and used against Americans.

  12. If this becomes common I see folks using combinations of countermeasures, from passive defense nets of loosely hung monofilament to a quiet 22 rifle. Believe me 15 pound test monofilament would be nearly impossible for a drone operator to see and react to in daylight, much less in darkness. Hung loosely where it would be sucked into the rotors and bind one or more up entirely, well gravity is a bitch who demands to be paid her due.

  13. Folks, this is bad. Even on its face it should elicit an immediate response of revulsion and be roundly shouted down. This should never be allowed to happen for any reason. It’s gross and disgusting and an extreme abuse of power and authority. It’s too far and too much. It must be opposed always, at all cost. Anything less is too little. No compromise on this. It must be a line in the sand lest we cease to have any liberty or freedom in any respect or regard.

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