Tag Archives: surveillance

Drone Bill on Governor’s Desk

Legislation putting restrictions on law enforcement use of drones was revised by House-Senate conference committee on the final day of the 2013 legislative session, then approved by both chambers and sent to Gov. Bill Haslam.
Differing versions of the “Freedom from Unwarranted Surveillance Act” (HB591) had been approved earlier by the House and Senate. The final version, approved late Friday, declares that drones can be used by law enforcement only when a search warrant has been obtained with four exceptions:
To “counter a high risk of a terrorist attack by a specific individual or organization” identified by the Department of Homeland Security.
When the law enforcement agency “possesses reasonable suspicion that, under particular circumstances, swift action is needed to prevent imminent danger to life.”
To “provide continuous aerial coverage when law enforcement is searching for a fugitive or escapee or is monitoring a hostage situation.”
To “provide more expansive aerial coverage when deployed for the purpose
of searching for a missing person.”
The House version earlier had contained a provision allowing use of drones “to protect life and property during crowd monitoring situations,” which proponents at the time said would cover crowds during University of Tennessee football games. That was deleted in the final version.
The bill’s sponsors were Rep. James “Micah” Van Huss, R-Jonesborough, and Sen. Mae Beavers, R-Mount Juliet. They said the final product strikes a balance between allowing use of drones where needed for a legitimate purpose and avoiding governmental intrusion.
Tennessee currently has no statute dealing with drones, which are expected to become more widely used in the near future. The bill does not address use of drones by individuals or corporations, but the sponsors said they may propose legislation on that topic next year.

House, Senate Approve Drone Surveillance Bill

The House and Senate both unanimously approved Thursday a bill that sets rules Tennessee law enforcement agencies’ use of unmanned aerial surveillance aircraft, better known as drones.
As approved by the Senate, the bill (SB796) says that drones can only be used to search for a fugitive or a missing person, in monitoring a hostage situation or when a judge issues a search warrant authorizing them. Any information gathered otherwise by a drone cannot be used in court and must be destroyed within 24 hours, the bill says.
The House added an amendment saying they can also be used “to protect life and property during crowd monitoring situations.” In debate, crowds and traffic during University of Tennessee football games was cited as an example of where drone monitoring might be desirable.
The Senate will have to approve the House amendment before the bill goes to the governor for his signature.
Sponsors of the bill – Sen. Mae Beavers, R-Mount Juliet, and Rep. James “Micah” Van Huss, R-Jonesborough – said there is no law on the books in Tennessee dealing with drone surveillance, but one is needed with projections that thousands will be deployed in the years ahead.
Van Huss said he worked with drones while serving with the Marines in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“I know that drones are a very effective tool in fighting against the bad guys and I do not want them to be a very effective tool in infringing on the personal liberties of my constituents and Tennessee citizens,” he said.

State Capitol Rennovation Almost Complete; Includes Enhanced Security

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Workers are putting the finishing touches on a renovation of the state Capitol as they prepare to re-open the 153-year-old building later this month.
The nearly $16 million project largely focused on upgrading electrical, mechanical and plumbing systems. Parts of the building also got new carpets, paint and security upgrades.
The governor, executive staff, constitutional officers and legislative workers are in the process of moving back into the building that has been closed since May. The public will be able to gain entry on Dec. 17.
Visitors will now have to have their driver’s licenses scanned upon entry to the building, and a more extensive internal and external video surveillance system has been installed.
Officials declined to explain details or the rationale for the enhanced security.