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Tanzi Bill Aims to Restrict Drones

Rules mirror eight other states that passed similar legislation.

Rep. Teresa Tanzi of South Kingstown and Narragansett has introduced legislation that would restrict the use of drones by RI law enforcement. (State House photo)
Rep. Teresa Tanzi of South Kingstown and Narragansett has introduced legislation that would restrict the use of drones by RI law enforcement. (State House photo)
Rep. Teresa Tanzi (D-Dist. 34, South Kingstown, Narragansett) reintroduced legislation that would restrict the use of aerial drones by Rhode Island law enforcement agencies.

The bill would "establish clear protocol on the use of drones by law-enforcement agencies in Rhode Island, requiring public hearings before their acquisition as well as assent from the applicable city or town council for municipal departments and the governor for state agencies," according to a release.

Getting approval to use a drone would meet similar requirements police must meet to get wiretaps. They wold also have to identify the target and why the drone needs to be used as well as whether other investigative methods have been attempted or failed.

Eight other states have similar restrictions in place.

“Law enforcement agencies in other parts of the country are already using drone technology, and it’s only a matter of time before many agencies in Rhode Island are, too. We ought to establish the ground rules proactively, because without limits, we’re leaving the door open to the potential for serious invasions of privacy,” Tanzi said.

The bill was introduced on Jan. 23 and has been referred to the House Judiciary Committee.

Click here for the complete text of the bill.

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