A central Ohio Republican joined a Lakewood Democrat last week to introduce a bill to the Ohio Senate that lays out uniform policy regarding the use of drones by law enforcement agencies throughout the Buckeye State.
Sens. Michael Skindell of Lakewood and Kris Jordan of Ostrander put forth Senate Bill 60 to establish the basics for law enforcement agencies using drones to gather evidence and information in their police work.
In nearly all circumstances, law enforcement agencies are required to obtain a search warrant based on probable cause.
Perhaps the most important exception would be instances in which law enforcement has reasonable suspicion of the commission of a crime and circumstances would require swift action to prevent immediate danger of death or serious physical injury to an individual and the use of the drone in the situation is needed without delay.
SB 60 stipulates when a warrant cannot be obtained with due diligence in time to prevent such a catastrophe and the law enforcement officer believes that it requires the drone use for this prevention the extraordinary provision is permitted.
Other exceptions include use of a drone to record a crime scene or the resultant elements of traffic crashes or to locate certain missing persons.
Search warrants must be limited to not exceed 48 hours, with no extension granted for more than 30 days and the also calls for drone use by law enforcement to be in accordance with all applicable federal aviation administration requirements and guidelines.
It prohibits operation of any drone equipped with any kind of weapon.
Evidence obtained by drone shall destroy all information gathered within 30 days of its collection unless there is reasonable suspicion that the information contains evidence of criminal activity or the information is relevant to an ongoing criminal investigation or pending criminal trial.
Section 2933.68 of the provision requires that information collected by a law enforcement officer through use of a drone about an individual other than the target or about a home or property other than those of the target may not be used, copied, or disclosed for any purpose.
If it is used, it would be a violation of the statute and inadmissible in any criminal proceeding.
Additionally, all such information shall be deleted as soon as possible and in no event later than 24 hours after its collection, the bill detailed.
Finally, SB 60 allows that any person injured in any manner due to a violation of this section may file a civil action with the appropriate court of common pleas.
In such an action, the court may award compensatory damages, punitive or exemplary damages and reasonable attorney’s fees, the bill detailed.
SB 60 was not assigned to a committee for hearing as of publication.
Two fellow senators joined the bill sponsors as cosponsors.