Provisions to Florida state law require drones used by local governments to be purchased from an approved manufacturer list due to security concerns.  -  Photo: Canva/Government Fleet

Provisions to Florida state law require drones used by local governments to be purchased from an approved manufacturer list due to security concerns.

Photo: Canva/Government Fleet

The Port St. Lucie, Florida, Police Department debuted its new fleet of drones. According to WPBF, the purchase came after the department was forced to ground its previous drone fleet due to a new Florida law.

What the Law Says

Florida state law allowing the use of drones by law enforcement agencies, fire departments, state agencies, and local governments was updated with new provisions. Some of the changes include ways the drones can be used by law enforcement agencies:

  • Can be used in crowds of 50 or more people.
  • Can be used for traffic management, but video cannot be used to issue traffic infractions.
  • Can be used to collect evidence at a crime scene or traffic crash scene.

The law also bans government agencies from using drones manufactured by DJI and requires them to purchase drones from an approved manufacturer list. According to a 2022 press release from U.S. Senator Marco Rubio, the Washington Post confirmed last year that the Chinese government is an investor in DJI, which at the time of that release, supplied more than 50% of drones sold in the U.S. In 2019, Government Fleet reported that the U.S. Department of the Interior grounded its 800-plus fleet of drones that were manufactured in China, or contained China-made parts. Concerns over the collection of data from the drones has led to similar moves by local and state governments in recent years.

About Port St. Lucie's New Drones

The department has six new drones and six pilots to fly them, with a drone pilot on call at all times. The new drones come from Teledyne FLIR, which is headquartered in Oregon.

The department began using drones in 2020. An officer with the department told WPBF that the drones are beneficial because they can be launched more quickly than the air unit.

The new drones have increased capabilities that will assist officers. They came with a censor package that will allow officers to locate people more easily when needed.

The drones can operate in wind speeds of up to 30 mph and can only be flown within the line of sight of a law enforcement officer, WPBF reported.

The department is also expected to get three new indoor drones in June. Those can be used in certain life-or-death situations, or when the department has a warrant to use them.

About the author
Christy Grimes

Christy Grimes

Senior Editor

Christy Grimes is a Senior Editor at Bobit, working on Automotive Fleet Government Fleet publications.

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