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  • NJ A3389
  • Sets forth certain standards to be followed by law enforcement agencies and fire departments when utilizing drones.
Introduced
(3/3/2016)
In Committee
(3/3/2016)
Crossed OverPassedSignedDead/Failed/Vetoed
2016-2017 Regular Session
This bill sets forth certain guidelines to be followed by law enforcement agencies, emergency management offices, and fire departments that use unmanned aerial vehicles, commonly referred to as drones. Under the provisions of the bill, a law enforcement agency is prohibited from utilizing a drone unless that law enforcement agency has obtained a warrant, or exigent circumstances exist making it unreasonable to obtain a warrant. A law enforcement agency is not required to obtain a warrant if a person or property owner that the agency seeks information about provides written consent permitting the use of a drone. The bill also authorizes the use of a drone by the Missing Persons Unit in the Department of Law and Public Safety or other law enforcement agency for search and rescue missions including, but not limited to, locating a high risk missing person or missing child or following a notification that a person is abducted or missing by an Amber Alert or Silver Alert. In addition, the bill provides that the forest fire service established under the Department of Environmental Protection may utilize a drone to survey or monitor the extent of a forest fire. All fire departments operating in the State are also permitted to utilize a drone to survey or monitor the extent of a fire in situations when the unmanned aerial vehicle can assist firefighters in obtaining visual and auditory information on the damage caused by the fire to a building or other structure. The bill permits the State Office of Emergency Management and county and local Offices of Emergency Management to use drones in the event of an emergency as defined in the bill, including but not limited to a hurricane, flood, or terrorist act. The bill clarifies that an office of emergency management or fire department that utilizes a drone are not subject to the warrant requirements imposed on law enforcement agencies. The bill requires that any records of a verbal or video communication derived from the use of a drone that are unrelated to an ongoing criminal investigation must be discarded within 14 days. In the case of drones being used by a fire department, verbal or video communication that is unrelated to an arson investigation must also be discarded within 14 days. In addition, any information or records of a verbal or video communication derived from the use of a drone must be strictly safeguarded from the public or any other third party. Evidence illegally derived by a law enforcement agency from the use of a drone is prohibited from being used as evidence in a criminal prosecution or disclosed in any other judicial proceeding, administrative proceeding, arbitration proceeding, or legislative proceeding, and may not be used to establish reasonable suspicion or probable cause that an offense has been, is being, or is about to be committed. The bill also requires each law enforcement agency, office of emergency management, or fire department that utilizes a drone to keep maintenance records for each unmanned aerial vehicle, a record of the two most recent calendar years of fuel purchases for each unmanned aerial vehicle, and any other documentation pertinent to the unmanned aerial vehicle that may be otherwise required by the Office of the Attorney General. In addition, each law enforcement agency, office of emergency management, or fire department that utilizes a drone is required to annually inspect the drone to ensure that the system is being properly maintained, is in good working condition and is safe to be used in the same proximity as the general public. A report of the annual inspection is to be forwarded to the Office of the Attorney General no later than January 1 of each year. In addition, the report is required to include a statement documenting the number of times that an unmanned aerial vehicle was used during the year, as well as a statement of facts establishing the purpose for which the unmanned aerial vehicle was used, and the character of the information that the law enforcement agency or fire department obtained from utilizing the unmanned aerial vehicle. Finally, this bill prohibits drones from being equipped with an "antipersonnel device." Under the bill, antipersonnel device is defined as a firearm or any prohibited weapon or device or any other projectile designed to harm, incapacitate, or otherwise negatively impact a human being. A person who operates a drone equipped with an antipersonnel device is guilty of a crime of the fourth degree under the provisions of the bill. A crime of the fourth degree is punishable by up to 18 months imprisonment, a fine of up to $10,000, or both.
Homeland Security and State Preparedness
Introduced, Referred to Assembly Homeland Security and State Preparedness Committee  (on 3/3/2016)
 
 

Date Chamber Action Description
3/3/2016 A Introduced, Referred to Assembly Homeland Security and State Preparedness Committee
Date Motion Yea Nay Other
None specified