Influential Democrats in the Minnesota House want to restrict use of drones by law enforcement agencies, generally requiring search warrants before they’re deployed. Baxter Police Sergeant David Timm objects, saying drones are very helpful at events like Brainerd’s Ice-Fishing Extravaganza. Timm says, “Literally thousands and thousands of people get on a lake with thousands of holes…. We might use our U-A-Vs there just as a resource to help observe from afar in case something were to happen to direct emergency personnel, keep an eye on things.” But Bill author, Saint Paul Democrat John Lesch contends it shouldn’t be allowed. “There might be some people that have a difference of opinion about that,” he says. “They think that people think it makes them feel safer. Doesn’t make me feel safer. It creeps me out.”
Saint Cloud Police Lieutenant Martin Sayre says, “Most of the public is happy to know that we are above our festivals, watching rooftops…. If their children is lost, we can quickly tell the operators their physical descriptions and they can look for them and locate them — and we have done this.” Lesch responds, “You can’t just fly drones over a music festival outside and scope people out, zero in and see what they’re doing. That’s a little creepy.”
House lawmakers will decide later whether to include the measure in a major public safety bill.