There's debate in the valley over how law enforcement should use drones. Last night we told you about a law that passed allowing the use of weaponized drones. North Dakota is the first state to allow local law enforcement to fly drones with non-lethal weapons attached, like pepper spray, or certain Tasers.
In the next couple years, you won't be seeing any drones in Fargo flown by police. "At this point we are not even examining it in the short term of even going with that technology," says Lt. Michael Mitchell. "I can't really think of a good usage for a weaponized drone."
In fact, Mitchell says they aren't even looking at using drones for surveillance, but he can see the benefits for certain situations. "I can never say never when it comes to technology,” he says.
Mitchell thinks it could be the wave of the future, "If you would have asked me about social media five years ago I wouldn't have taken off like it has, and is just an integral part of what we do,” he says, “So as technology keeps evolving and our function in law enforcement keeps changing there could be room for it in our future."
"Some in law enforcement felt that there are tactical situations such as swat call outs where the ability to use a drone to dispense pepper spray where a suspect is hidden would be a good use,” says West Fargo Police Chief, Mike Riten. He is also the President of the North Dakota Peace Officers Association. Who worked to change certain parts of the drone law.
Riten says that there aren’t many departments across the state trying to get use of drones, and none that he knows of wanting to use weapons attached. "We don't know what the future holds for other types of non-lethal weapons so we felt we just needed to leave the door open so we can deploy those assets as they become available."
Riten says as of now, the intent of drones in the state is mainly for surveillance, search and rescue.
Right now, only Grand Forks is approved by the FAA to use drones. They say it's mostly for work with the university and other learning opportunities.