Aerial drone bill advances

TRENTON – The Senate Law and Public Safety Committee unanimously released a bill Monday that would put in place more standards for police and fire departments to follow when using drones.

The bill, S2702, provides that the Missing Persons Unit in the Department of Law and Public Safety or another law enforcement agency may use a drone aircraft for search and rescue missions, including finding a high-risk missing person or missing child, such as the ones that are launched via Amber or Silver alerts.

Sen. Nicholas Sacco, (D-32), North Bergen, prime sponsor, said the bill adds protections regarding the usage of drones. The bill states that weapons cannot be installed on them and incidental information collected by the drone cannot be used on unrelated investigations.

“It just adds a lot of safeguards so people’s rights aren’t trampled,” he said.

A person who attaches weapons or other “antipersonnel devices” to the drones would face jail time and a fine of up to $10,000.

The bill would allow the forest fire service to use a drone to survey or monitor the extent of a forest fire.  All fire departments operating in the state also are permitted to utilize a drone to survey or monitor the extent of a fire in situations when the unmanned aerial system can assist firefighters.

The bill requires each law enforcement agency or fire department that utilizes a drone to keep maintenance records for each unmanned aerial system, a record of the two most recent calendar years of fuel purchases for each unmanned aerial system, and any other documentation that’s considered pertinent.  An annual inspection report must also be submitted.


Aerial drone bill advances