Proposed Fla. bill would restrict use of law enforcement drones



ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. - The latest crime fighting technology planned for use in central Florida might never get off the ground, if one state lawmaker gets his way.

WFTV's cameras were there as Orange County Sheriff's deputies demonstrated their remote-controlled, flying drone last month.

They now they have two of the $25,000 drones, which they said will be used for surveillance and emergencies.

"It's is a lot cheaper for us to put a drone up that can do the same job as a helicopter," said Capt. Mike Fewless with the Orange County Sheriff's Office.

But now just over two weeks since they showed off the technology, proposed legislation would keep the drones grounded, at least until law enforcement gets a warrant before they launch their drones.

At least one state Senator said invasion of privacy is an issue.

"It's not what this country is founded on," said State Sen, Joe Negron.

Other lawmakers said they are weighing protecting privacy versus protecting citizens from a crime.

"Drones are a way that you can follow a stolen car without the danger," siad State Sen. Jack Latvala.

The anti-drone bill has already passed two hurdles, but it's unclear if it will become law.

The bill's sponsor stresses protecting people's rights.

"My view is that the government works for us. Government is there to serve us, to protect us, not to watch us," said Negron.

Law enforcement officials said that drones don't have any type of weapons and they are no different than flying a manned helicopter, which is legal to use when monitoring public spaces.