Drone Use by Law Enforcement

During this legislative session, as well as the past biennium, the Senate Judiciary Committee has heard testimony regarding the use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), also known as drones, by law enforcement. Like many other states, Minnesota lacks a clear set of parameters governing the use of drones by law enforcement, should law enforcement choose to acquire and operate them. Privacy advocates say drone use may be a platform for mass surveillance of innocent civilians, while law enforcement claims UAVs could be vital in some investigations and provide another tool for emergencies. To try to alleviate privacy concerns while still recognizing the usefulness of drones, legislation was introduced that does the following: search warrants must be obtained before drone utilization unless it’s an emergency, or if the use is in a public area where there is a reasonable suspicion of illegal activity. The bill also says the subject of the surveillance must be notified within three days of the action, but law enforcement may petition to have that deadline increased. The bill also lays out guidelines for the retention, deletion, and disclosure of the data collected from the UAV.

STATUS: The bill is on the Senate Floor. (S.F. 1299)


Senate DFL Media