Society

Police Should Not Use Weaponized Drones

| by Mark Jones

Drones are exciting new pieces of technology, and they can be used to do many interesting and exciting things. However, one thing they should not be used for is to fire weapons. Therefore, it is glaringly obvious that police departments should not be allowed to mount any kind of weapon -- whether lethal or nonlethal -- on drones.

According to WTIC, the Connecticut state legislature is considering allowing police to use drones that have been outfitted with lethal weapons. On March 29, the Connecticut Judiciary approved the bill and proceeded to send it to the House of Representatives for approval. 

The bill calls for a ban of weaponized drones throughout the state but exempts law enforcement from this rule. It is also important to note that Connecticut's Police Officer Standards and Training Council would also have to approve the bill and train officers to handle the drones before weaponized drones use could be put into practice.

If the Connecticut bill passes, it will become the second state to allow for the use of weaponized drones. North Dakota allows law enforcement to use them, but only "less lethal" weapons are allowed. According to The Daily Beast, such weapons include "rubber bullets, pepper spray, tear gas, sound cannons, and Tasers."

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At first glance, the Connecticut bill might seem like a good idea. For example, according to The San Diego Union-Tribune, drones are helpful in preventing military deaths because they allow for soldiers to stay out of high-risk situations. The same logic could be applied to the police force using drones; if there is a high-risk situation, the police could send a weaponized drone in -- which can be replaced if damaged or destroyed -- rather than an actual human person.

However, according to WTIC, many civil rights activists are concerned about the implications of this new law. In particular, Connecticut NAACP President Scot Esdaile opposes the bill. His main concern is that police departments will misuse drones. This is a valid concern, and one of many reasons why weaponized drones should not be used. 

According to the American Civil Liberties Union, distance is not always better when it comes to drones. When a police officer is not physically in a location, it can warp their perception of the situation and impair their judgment. As a result, it makes it more likely that the drone will end up damaging property and hurting people who are not the intended target. 

In addition, the use of weaponized drones might increase the instances of police officers exerting unnecessary force.

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Some might argue that to account for these concerns, nonlethal weapons like the ones in North Dakota should be used in the place of lethal ones. However, "nonlethal" weapons can still be responsible for causing deaths. For example, according to a study by Amnesty International, there were 500 Taser-related deaths in the United States between 2001 and 2012. Mounting Tasers to drones would likely only result in an increase in this number. 

With all of this in mind, it is clear that weaponized drones will do more harm than good, and should not be used by any police department. Therefore, the Connecticut legislature should scrap this bill immediately.

Click here for the opposing view on this topic.

Sources: WTIC, The Daily Beast, The San Diego Union-Tribue, American Civil Liberties Union, Amnesty International / Photo credit: Richard Unten/Flickr

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