Florida police drones: Fla. Senate to consider today whether to permit law enforcement to use drones

The use of drones by local law enforcement will be on the table Wednesday at the Florida Senate. Lawmakers will vote on a bill sponsored by Sen. Joe Negron, R-Stuart, that prohibits law enforcement to use the unmanned aircraft to gather evidence or other information.

Titled the "Freedom from Unwarranted Surveillance Act," the bill would allow drones to be used only if there's a risk of a terrorist attack, if law enforcement obtains a search warrant, or if there's imminent danger, such as the escape of a suspect or a missing person.

Drones traditionally have been used by the military, starting during the Vietnam War, and can carry sophisticated surveillance equipment and cameras that can track objects from 65 miles away.

The aircraft also are used to monitor borders and Florida's shorelines. The state is competing to become a leading manufacturing site for drones.

Chiefs of police claim drones could help them in situations involving hostages and armed suspects. Some law enforcement agencies have performed trials using drones. The Miami-Dade Police Department owns two of them but as of January they had not flown an actual operation.

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