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Politics

Law Enforcement Officials Make Pitch For Drone Use In Sacramento

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SACRAMENTO (KCBS)— California’s State Legislature is taking a closer look at the use of drones with a Tuesday morning hearing in Sacramento.

The Assembly’s Public Safety Committee is trying to determine how far the state should go to promote the use of the unmanned aircraft technology.

Linda Lye, an attorney with the ACLU of Northern California, said there are real privacy concerns with drones.

“Drones could enable the government to capture comprehensive information about where, what and how we go about our daily lives,” she said.

But Ventura County Sheriff Geoff Dean told the committee there are many law enforcement opportunities for drone use, including search and rescue and assisting in hostage situations.

“There’s a lot of regulations in place already. The Supreme Court ruled in 2001, law enforcement can’t even use thermal imaging and take a picture of a house where we thought marijuana was growing inside,” he said.

Founder of high-tech company TerrAvion Robert Morris argued drone use extends beyond monitoring human behavior.

“Most of the opportunities have to do with fighting fires, monitoring off-shore fisheries, which NOAA is currently integrating; monitoring volcanoes,” said Morris.

He added that drone use for examining pesticides and irrigation for agriculture are promising.

Lye said she envisioned advances in facial recognition technology where drones could track individuals when they head to AA meetings, a union hall or a Tea Party meeting.

A representative with the Electronic Frontier Foundation pointed out that Virginia passed an outright ban on law enforcement drone use for the next two years.

(Copyright 2013 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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