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Drone Regulation Bill Advances Despite Concerns It Unfairly Targets Law Enforcement

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Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

The Oklahoma House passed a bill Tuesday that places restrictions on how drones can be used by law enforcement and the state.

State Rep. Paul Wesselhoft, R-Moore, says his bill doesn't place restrictions on the flight, design, manufacturing, or the people who purchase unmanned aerial vehicles.

During floor debate, Wesselhoft said the bill protects the constitutional right against unreasonable searches and seizures.

“It tells law enforcement that if you're going to target an individual or an organization, whether that organization is the ACLU or the KKK, then you must suspect that criminal activity is being involved,” Wesselhoft said. “And therefore you need a warrant."

The bill contains exemptions for emergency situations, like floods, tornados, or finding missing persons.

During the debate, state Rep. Scott Biggs, R-Chickasha, called the legislation an attack on law enforcement.

"Combine that with the fact that this bill is being pushed by the organization [the American Civil Liberties Union of Oklahoma] who cheered when the Ten Commandments was forced to be removed from this Capitol grounds,” Biggs said. “An organization who files lawsuits day in and day out to make sure the religious freedoms in this state are infringed upon."

But Wesselhoft said the bill has brought together groups from both sides of the aisle interested in protecting the Fourth Amendment.

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Brian Hardzinski is from Flower Mound, Texas and a graduate of the University of Oklahoma. He began his career at KGOU as a student intern, joining KGOU full time in 2009 as Operations and Public Service Announcement Director. He began regularly hosting Morning Edition in 2014, and became the station's first Digital News Editor in 2015-16. Brian’s work at KGOU has been honored by Public Radio News Directors Incorporated (PRNDI), the Oklahoma Association of Broadcasters, the Oklahoma Associated Press Broadcasters, and local and regional chapters of the Society of Professional Journalists. Brian enjoys competing in triathlons, distance running, playing tennis, and entertaining his rambunctious Boston Terrier, Bucky.
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