Bill Text: NJ S577 | 2018-2019 | Regular Session | Introduced


Bill Title: Sets forth certain standards to be followed by law enforcement agencies and fire departments when utilizing drones.

Spectrum: Bipartisan Bill

Status: (Introduced) 2018-01-09 - Introduced in the Senate, Referred to Senate Law and Public Safety Committee [S577 Detail]

Download: New_Jersey-2018-S577-Introduced.html

SENATE, No. 577

STATE OF NEW JERSEY

218th LEGISLATURE

 

PRE-FILED FOR INTRODUCTION IN THE 2018 SESSION

 


 

Sponsored by:

Senator  NICHOLAS J. SACCO

District 32 (Bergen and Hudson)

 

 

 

 

SYNOPSIS

     Sets forth certain standards to be followed by law enforcement agencies and fire departments when utilizing drones.

 

CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT

     Introduced Pending Technical Review by Legislative Counsel.

  


An Act concerning the use of unmanned aerial vehicles and supplementing Title 2A of the New Jersey Statutes.

 

     Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:

 

     1.    a.  As used in this act:

     "Anti-personnel device" means a firearm or any prohibited weapon or device defined under N.J.S.2C:39-3 or any other projectile designed to harm, incapacitate, or otherwise negatively impact a human being;

     "Unmanned aerial vehicle" means an aerial vehicle that is owned or operated by any branch of the Armed Forces of the United States or any law enforcement agency, or agent or employee thereof, that uses aerodynamic forces to propel the vehicle and does not carry a human operator, and is capable of flying autonomously or being piloted remotely and conducting surveillance as defined by this section;

     "Emergency" means any flood, hurricane, storm, tornado, high water, wind-driven water, tidal wave, drought, fire, explosion, civil disorder, act of terrorism, or other catastrophe which is or threatens to be of sufficient severity and magnitude to substantially endanger the health, safety and property of the citizens of this State; and

     "Surveillance" means the act of monitoring, observing, photographing, listening to, or making a recording of a person or group of persons or their movements, activities and communications.

     b.    No law enforcement agency shall utilize an unmanned aerial vehicle to conduct surveillance or to gather any evidence or engage in any other law enforcement activity within this State unless:

     (1)   pursuant to the authority of a judicially authorized search warrant issued by a court of competent jurisdiction;

     (2)   the law enforcement agency has probable cause to believe that a person has committed a crime, is committing a crime, or is about to commit a crime, and exigent circumstances exist making it unreasonable for the law enforcement agency to obtain a warrant authorizing use of an unmanned aerial vehicle;

     (3)   the law enforcement agency has obtained the written consent of an individual or property owner about which the law enforcement agency seeks to gather information using the unmanned aerial vehicle; or

     (4)   the unmanned aerial vehicle is being utilized by the Missing Persons Unit established pursuant to section 2 of P.L.1983, c.467 (C.52:17B-9.7) or other law enforcement agency for a search and rescue mission including, but not limited to, locating a high risk missing person or missing child as defined under section 1 of P.L.2007, c.279 (C.52:17B-212), or following a notification that a person is abducted or missing by an Amber Alert established under section 3 of P.L.2002, c.129 (C.52:17B-194.3) or Silver Alert under section 1 of P.L.2009, c.167 (C.52:17B-194.4); or by the State Office of Emergency Management to survey or monitor the extent of an emergency.

     c.     Whenever a law enforcement agency utilizes an unmanned aerial vehicle in accordance with subsection b. of this section and records a verbal or video communication that is unrelated to an ongoing criminal investigation, the contents of that verbal or video communication, and any information that is derived from that communication, shall be discarded within 14 days.

     d.    Information or records of a verbal or video communication derived from the use of an unmanned aerial vehicle shall be strictly safeguarded and shall not be made available or disclosed to the public or any third party.  The provisions of this section shall not apply to the disclosure of information or records of a verbal or video communication derived from the use of an unmanned aerial vehicle to any court or law enforcement agency in carrying out its functions related to the ongoing criminal investigation.

     e.     Any evidence derived from the use of an unmanned aerial vehicle in violation of this section shall not be 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.

 

     2.    a. A forest firefighter service established under the Department of Environmental Protection pursuant to R.S.13:9-1 et seq. may utilize an unmanned aerial vehicle to survey or monitor the extent of a forest fire.

     b.    Any fire department, paid or volunteer, in this State may utilize an unmanned aerial vehicle 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.

     c.     Whenever a forest firefighter service, or any fire department, paid or volunteer, utilizes an unmanned aerial vehicle in accordance with this section and records a verbal or video communication that is unrelated to an arson investigation, the contents of that verbal or video communication, and any information that is derived from that communication, shall be discarded within 14 days.

     d.    Information or records of a verbal or video communication derived from the use of an unmanned aerial vehicle shall be strictly safeguarded and shall not be made available or disclosed to the public or any third party.

     e.     A forest firefighter service, or any other fire department, paid or volunteer, that utilizes an unmanned aerial vehicle pursuant to this section shall not be subject to the restrictions placed on law enforcement agencies set forth under subsection b. of section 1 of P.L.      , c.    (C.        ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill).

 

     3.    a. Any county emergency management coordinator or municipal emergency management coordinator in this State may utilize an unmanned aerial vehicle to survey or monitor the extent of an emergency in situations when the unmanned aerial vehicle can assist the coordinator in obtaining visual and auditory information on the damage caused by the emergency to that county or municipality.

     b.    Information or records of a verbal or video communication derived from the use of an unmanned aerial vehicle shall be strictly safeguarded and shall not be made available or disclosed to the public or any third party.

     c.     A county emergency management coordinator or municipal emergency management coordinator that utilizes an unmanned aerial vehicle pursuant to this section shall not be subject to the restrictions placed on law enforcement agencies set forth under subsection b. of section 1 of P.L.       , c.    (C.        ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill).

 

     4.    a.  Each law enforcement agency, fire department or county or local Office of Emergency Management that utilizes an unmanned aerial vehicle shall keep, on location at the agency or department, a record for each unmanned aerial vehicle listing the following identifying information:

     (1)   maintenance records for each unmanned aerial vehicle;

     (2)   the records of the two most recent calendar years of fuel purchases for each unmanned aerial vehicle; and

     (3)   any other documentation pertinent to the unmanned aerial vehicle that may be otherwise required under rules or regulations adopted pursuant to section 6 of P.L.       , c.     (C.        ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill).  The Attorney General shall have the authority to inspect these records upon request.

     b.    Each law enforcement agency, fire department, or county or local Office of Emergency Management that utilizes an unmanned aerial vehicle shall annually inspect the unmanned aerial vehicle to ensure that the vehicle is being properly maintained, is in good working condition, and is safe to be used in the same proximity as the general public.  The person conducting the inspection shall have qualifications, knowledge, and experience in the use and inspection of unmanned aerial vehicles.

     A report of the annual inspection shall be forwarded to the Office of the Attorney General no later than January 1 of each year.  The report also shall 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.

 

     5.    No person, including a law enforcement agency, fire department or county or local Office of Emergency Management permitted to utilize an unmanned aerial vehicle pursuant to this act shall operate an unmanned aerial vehicle in this State that is equipped with an anti-personnel device as defined in section 1 of P.L.      , c.     (C.        ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill).  A person who violates this section shall be guilty of a crime of the fourth degree.

 

     6.    The Attorney General, in conjunction with the Superintendent of State Police, shall adopt rules and regulations in accordance with the Administrative Procedure Act, P.L.1968, c.410 (C.52:14B-1 et seq.), to effectuate the purposes of this act.

 

     7.    This act shall take effect immediately.

 

STATEMENT

 

     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.

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