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Drones and Law Enforcement – The Future is Now

By: Curtis M. Graham, Esq.

Nowadays it is not uncommon to look up into the sky and see a drone flying overhead. Everyone seems to have one. The rise (pun intended) of unmanned aerial vehicles (“UAVs”) presents interesting questions for law enforcement officials across the country. Some are responding to criminal complaints, as was the case when a University of Kentucky student was charged with second degree wanton endangerment after flying his drone into Commonwealth Stadium prior to a football game last fall. Others are utilizing UAVs to conduct their own search and rescues.

The Somerset Police Department in Kentucky is believed to be the first police department in Kentucky to use an UAV. The Department has received training from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and has created policies and procedures governing the device’s operation. One Department official commented that they are required to notify air traffic controllers at least 30 minutes before any flight and that they cannot fly higher than 400 feet above ground level. Additionally, officials must maintain visual contact with the drone at all times while it is in flight and all pilots must be FAA certified.

But the law is unsettled, and the Kentucky legislature will soon hear House Bill 22 which could prohibit the use of evidence obtained by drones in criminal trials. Additionally, law enforcement agencies using drones would be required to use the drone “in a manner to collect data only on the target and minimize data collection on individuals, homes, or areas other than the target.” The proposed title for the law is the Citizens’ Freedom from Unwarranted Surveillance Act.

Kentucky is not the only state confronting these issues. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 45 states considered at least 156 bills relating to drones in 2015. Needless to say the law in this area is rapidly changing, and it is important for law enforcement officials to stay current on the state of the laws governing drone use.


For questions or more information on “Drones and Law Enforcement – The Future is Now,” contact:


Curtis M. Graham  – MRR Lexington
Phone: 859.899.8516
Fax: 859.899.8498
Email: cgraham@mrrlaw.com

MRR Ohio Legislation Update: December 18, 2015 – December 31, 2015

Notes from the Senate:

  • S.B. No. 256 was introduced to generally require law enforcement agencies to maintain a policy designed to eliminate biased policing and status-based profiling

For questions or more information on MRR’s Ohio Legislation Updates, contact:

Stacy V. Pollock  – MRR Columbus
Phone: 614.324.0163
Email: spollock@mrrlaw.com

Stacy Pollock 8860

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MRR Ohio Legislation Updates: November 13, 2015 – December 3, 2015

Notes from the House of Representatives:

  • H.B. 378 was referred to the Committee on Local Government. H.B. 378 would authorize law enforcement officers of township police districts and joint police districts, and township constables, serving specified small populations to make arrests for motor vehicle-related violations committed on an interstate highway in the same manner as township law enforcement officers serving larger populations. (Introduced 10-22-15; Referred to Committee 11-16-15)
  • H.B. 380 was referred to the Committee on Judiciary. H.B. 380 would require each law enforcement agency to adopt a written policy regarding the investigation of firearms-related officer-involved deaths that involve an officer serving the agency; to provide for investigations into officer-involved deaths by investigatory panels of law enforcement officers; to require an investigatory panel to provide a report of its investigation findings to the prosecutor and the officer’s law enforcement agency; to provide for public access to the report, except for information that is not public record, if the prosecutor determines there is no basis to prosecute or a grand jury enters a no bill regarding the involved officer; and to require an investigatory panel to inform the deceased individual’s family members of contact information for the office of the prosecutor handling the case. (Introduced 10-22-15; Referred to Committee 11-16-15)
  • H.B. 389 was referred to the Committee on Community and Family Advancement. H.B. 389 would enact the Ohio Fairness Act to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity or expression, to add mediation to the list of informal methods by which the Ohio Civil Rights Commission may use to induce compliance with Ohio’s Civil Rights Law before instituting a formal hearing, and to uphold existing religious exemptions under Ohio Civil Rights Law. (Introduced 11-5-15; Referred to Committee 11-16-15)
  • H.J.R. No. 5 was introduced to propose enacting Section 2t of Article VIII of the Constitution of the State of Ohio to permit the issuance of general obligation bonds to fund sewer and water capital improvements. (Introduced 12-1-15)
  • Sub .H.B. No. 2017 was passed by the House of Representatives. The bill proposes amending sections 4123.93 and 4123.931 and enacting section 4123.932 of the Revised Code to allow a state fund employer to have a workers’ compensation claim that is likely to be subrogated by a third party paid from the surplus fund account in the state insurance fund rather than charged to the employer’s experience. (Passed by House of Representatives 12-1-15)

For questions or more information on MRR’s Ohio Legislation Updates, contact:

Stacy V. Pollock  – MRR Columbus
Phone: 614.324.0163
Email: spollock@mrrlaw.com

Stacy Pollock 8860