AUGUSTA, Maine (AP/NEWS CENTER) - Maine Gov. Paul LePage wants to establish a state policy on the use of unmanned aerial drones by law enforcement.
The Republican governor signed an executive order on Friday that directs the Commissioner of Public Safety to come up with a policy that will govern law enforcement's use and operation of drones. The state has to come up with a policy by February.
The Democratic-led Legislature approved a bill in June that would have banned law enforcement from using drones for surveillance unless they have a search warrant.
But LePage vetoed the bill, saying the bill "steps too far," would lead to lawsuits and hurt job growth in the aerospace industry. In his veto message, he said he would seek to create a state policy on drones.
Shenna Bellows, executive director of the ACLU of Maine released this statement as a response:
"Mainers should not have to worry about warrantless law enforcement surveillance, and we were disappointed that the governor chose to veto warrant requirements for drone surveillance.
"We recognize there may be valid public safety uses for drones, but a warrant requirement would not interfere with law enforcement doing their jobs. As the executive order states, 'ensuring consistency of practice among Maine law enforcement agencies is important to protect privacy rights.'
"We look forward to working with the commissioner on a policy that protects Mainers constitutional rights. But policy is not an adequate substitute for law. For that reason, we will continue working to put warrant requirements for drones into law."
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