Police Chief Opposed To Drone Bill Amendment

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ST. LOUIS, MO (KTVI) - A tweet heated up debate over a little-known bill moving through the Missouri legislature. One lawmaker says Missouri House Bill 46 would protect farmers from unmanned drones.  One police chief said an amendment to that bill could put lives at risk.

St. Louis County Police Chief Tim Fitch said police helicopters fly over the region most of the day.

“What if you have a child that’s lost...and we know that many children will wander into the neighbor’s pool and drown before you can find them?” said Police Chief Tim Fitch.

On Monday, he tweeted his opposition to Missouri House Bill 46.  It would restrict unmanned drone flights.  But, a recent amendment to the proposed legislation would restrict the use of manned law enforcement aircraft.

“It takes time for the equipment to warm up,” Fitch explained.  “It’s not like a car, where you start it and you take off.  You’re talking 15 to 20 minutes.”

Casey Guernsey represents rural northwestern Missouri.  He sponsored the bill.

“That amendment was never mine, to begin with,” he pointed out.

Geurnsey said the original bill was only meant to protect farmers against drones.

“They have, in the past year in fact, brought action against 50 farmers in Iowa and Nebraska for perceived violations of the Clean Water Act,” he said.  “The government, in fact, did use aerial surveillance to flat-out monitor agricultural operations.”

Geurnsey said that the amendment can be removed.  Fitch urged voters need to make sure that happens.

“They need to reach out to their senators,” Fitch said.  “Because, it is in the senate now and let them know how it will affect law enforcement in the St. Louis Metropolitan area.”

“I would say that the chief needs to call me,” said Guernsey.  “It’s clear that he doesn’t understand the situation we are in, or what the basis of the legislation is.”

You can download a .pdf of the bill here.

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