Two Floridian bills regarding the use of drones are under review by the House State Affairs Committee. HB 659 would allow drones to fight wildfires and eradicate invasive plants. HB 1433 authorizes greater use of drones for law enforcement, though it doesn’t allow them to give out citations, a change recently approved by the Federal Aviation Administration. Though details weren’t provided on exactly how, the idea is that a drone would help contain the expansion of wildfires and would be supported by the Florida Fire Chiefs’ Association. Overall, the use of drones has kickstarted more innovative use of airborne technology. Many people have reservations, as they become more concerned over “a growing surveillance state” due to the presence of drones.
Sarasota Republican Senator Joe Gruters has also come up with a bill (SB 520) that would authorize drone use for gathering evidence, crowd control and post-incident use. It was unanimously advanced by the Senate Infrastructure and Security Committee. Gruters said, “expanding the use of drones for law enforcement will create efficiencies and enhance public safety in Florida.” He also reiterated, “Just to be crystal clear, this bill is very, very specific on what law enforcement can do, and it does not change, amend or alter the constitutional privacy protections that are in place now … and you can rest assured that this is a good bill and it is widely supported.”
As of November 2019, about 12 of Florida’s 67 Sheriff’s Offices and 32 of Florida’s 139 police agencies currently use drones; 10 more are on board to obtain them in the near future.