Carroll County commissioner wants to restrict drone use

Carroll County Commissioner Robin Frazier said Thursday that she will draft a resolution restricting drone use in the county by government agencies to protect citizens' Fourth Amendment rights.

Frazier's comment came after a more than 30-minute long discussion at the Board of County Commissioners' meeting on increasing drone use nationwide, particularly that of law enforcement.

Frazier said the resolution will require any government agency to have a warrant before evidence from surveillance can be admissible in court. She expects to present a draft resolution to the board fairly soon.

"Every time we have new technology there are good things and bad things that you can do with it," she said.

Frazier requested that the commissioners discuss the possibility of enacting a resolution after a citizen approached her with questions about the board's thoughts on drones, which are unmanned aerial vehicles.

The discussion on drones Thursday began with concerns of using drones to look for environmental or zoning regulations before evolving into how police agencies are now using drones.

Sara Love, the public policy director with the American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland, said the use of drones is not limited to overseas and that drone use in law enforcement is proliferating.

The Queen Anne's County Sheriff's Office, for example, has been issued two certificates of authority from the Federal Aviation Administration in recent years to use drones, she said.

Col. Phil Kasten with the Carroll County Sheriff's Office, who was not at the meeting, said the department does not own, lease or use drones and has no plans to do so in the future.

Love said there have been 42 state legislators that have considered drone legislation and six states have enacted legislation regarding drone use. Illinois is also on the brink of approving drone legislation.

Love did not have information on the number of counties that are researching or have put forth legislation on drone use.

"I wouldn't imagine that Carroll County is the only one," she said.

Love said that she will be working with Maryland Sens. Chris Shank, a Republican, and Jamie Raskin, a Democrat, in the next legislative session on legislation that would require law enforcement to obtain a probable cause search warrant before drones are used.

Commissioner Richard Rothschild said the topic of drones is worthwhile for the county to explore because of the potential uses of drones.

"The opportunities for abuse are magnificent right now," he said.

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