Were I still capable of surprise at what police forces around this country are doing in order to harm people more effectively, this would surprise me, but I have been rendered unsurprisable at this point. Now I'm just perpetually angry:
North Dakota's police agencies can fly drones armed with Tasers, tear gas, bean-bag cannons, and other "less-lethal" weapons, thanks to fierce lobbying from the law enforcement industry on a bill that was initially meant to restrict police use of the flying robots rather than outfit them with weapons. While other local police departments have flirted with weaponizing their drones, North Dakota is the first state to explicitly allow the armaments.Except: "39 people have been killed by police Tasers in 2015 thus far, according to The Guardian. Rubber bullets can kill, and most non-lethal weapons can inflict grievous and lasting harm."
When State Rep. Rick Becker introduced H.B. 1328, the law both banned weaponized drones and established a procedure for law enforcement to seek a warrant before using drones in searches. Only the warrant requirement survived. After stiff lobbying and a multi-stage public relations effort by law enforcement and drone proponents, first reported by The Daily Beast, the version of the bill that ultimately passed authorized police to arm their unmanned aerial vehicles with sound cannons, pepper spray, and other weapons not designed to kill.
I have a hard time believing there is any reason for this besides: We still definitely want to hurt people, but just want to reduce the risk of harm to ourselves while we do it.
If police are interested in convincing me of the oft-repeated refrain about how police don't actively want to harm people, this sure ain't the way to do it.
(Yes, I know: Not all cops. As always, I will advise: If the shoe doesn't fit, don't wear it. If you're one of the "good cops," please don't waste your time arguing with me about how you're not like all those other cops and instead invest it in talking to those other cops to make them more like you claim to be.)