ASSEMBLY, No. 3157

STATE OF NEW JERSEY

215th LEGISLATURE

 

INTRODUCED JUNE 25, 2012

 


 

Sponsored by:

Assemblyman  ROBERT SCHROEDER

District 39 (Bergen and Passaic)

Assemblyman  DECLAN J. O'SCANLON, JR.

District 13 (Monmouth)

 

 

 

 

SYNOPSIS

     Requires that police obtain warrant to conduct aerial surveillance utilizing drones.

 

CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT

     As introduced.

  


An Act concerning police surveillance 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.  The Legislature finds and declares that:

     a.  The right of privacy is among the most sacred and inalienable rights of an individual and is a principle implicit in the concept of a free and just society;

     b.  In February 2012, the President of the United States signed the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012.  This act mandates that the Federal Aviation Administration administer a program that integrates the use of unmanned aerial systems, often referred to as drones, into the national airspace system. 

     c.  Although the use of unmanned aerial systems may serve as a vital tool in the areas of crime and terrorism prevention, it is necessary that the government’s use of this technology be counter balanced by the societal interest of preserving each individual’s constitutional right to privacy. 

     d.  It is, therefore, the duty of the State of New Jersey to protect personal privacy and to utilize unmanned aerial systems in instances when law enforcement officials have met the evidentiary standard necessary for obtaining a court order. 

 

     2. a.  For the purposes of this act,

     “Unmanned aerial system” means an aerial vehicle that uses aerodynamic forces to propel the vehicle and does not carry a human operator, and which is capable of flying autonomously or being piloted remotely and is capable of conducting surveillance as defined by this section; 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 or officer shall utilize an unmanned aerial system unless that law enforcement agency or officer, or the Attorney General or county prosecutor acting on behalf of the law enforcement agency or officer, files an application with a judge for a court order authorizing the use of an unmanned aerial system. 

     c.  Each application for a court order authorizing the use of an unmanned aerial system shall be made in writing upon oath or affirmation and shall state: 

     (1) the identity of the particular person or group of persons, if known, who are the subject of the aerial surveillance operation; 

     (2) a statement of facts establishing the purpose of the aerial surveillance activities and the character of the information that the law enforcement agency, or investigative or law enforcement officer intends to obtain from conducting a aerial surveillance operation; 

     (3) the location of the surveillance operation or the particular place where the aerial surveillance operation is to take place;

     (4) a statement of the period of time during which the aerial surveillance operation is to be conducted; and

     (5) a particular statement of facts showing that other normal investigative procedures with respect to the offense have been tried and have failed or reasonably appear to be unlikely to succeed if tried or to be too dangerous to employ.   

     d.  When a law enforcement agency or officer utilizes an unmanned aerial system and records a verbal or video communication that is unrelated to the investigation for which a court order has been issued, the contents of the verbal or video communication, and any evidence derived from that communication, shall be discarded and shall not be used as evidence in court for a crime unrelated to the investigation. 

     e.  No law enforcement entity or officer, or other government authority shall utilize an unmanned aerial system for the purpose of enforcing violations of the provisions of Title 39 of the Revised Statutes or any other motor vehicle or traffic violation in this State.

 

     3.  a. Any municipal or county law enforcement agency that purchases an unmanned aerial system as defined in section 2 of             P.L.     , c.        (C.        ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill) shall immediately provide public notice with respect to the purchase of the unmanned aerial system in a newspaper authorized by law to publish official public notices.  The public notice shall include the price paid for the unmanned aerial system, the size of the unmanned aerial system, and the supplier or manufacturer of the unmanned aerial system.  A copy of the receipt for purchase shall be provided to the clerk of the municipality or county in which the law enforcement agency is located and shall be available for public inspection immediately after the unmanned aerial system has been purchased. 

     b.  If an unmanned aerial system is purchased or obtained by the Division of State Police in the Department of Law and Public Safety, the public notice required under subsection a. of this section shall be made available and accessible to the public from the official Internet web site of the Division of State Police. 

 

     4.  The provisions of section 2 of P.L.     , c.        (C.        ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill) requiring a law enforcement agency to obtain a court order to utilize an unmanned aerial system shall not apply to the forest fire service established under the Department of Environmental Protection pursuant to R.S.13:9-1 et seq. when the service or any members of the service utilize an unmanned aerial system to survey or monitor the extent of a forest fire. 

 

     5. Any person who purchases, owns, or possesses an unmanned aerial system as defined in section 2 of P.L.    , c.     (C.    ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill) is guilty of a disorderly persons offense.  The provisions of this section shall not apply to any law enforcement agency or officer while on duty, the forest fire service or any member of the forest fire fighter service acting in accordance with section 4 of P.L.    , c.     (C.    ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill), or to any member of the Armed Forces of the United States or member of the National Guard while on duty or traveling to or from an authorized place of duty. 

 

     6. This act shall take effect immediately. 

 

 

STATEMENT

 

     This bill regulates the use of unmanned aerial vehicles, commonly referred to as drones, in this State.  In February, the President of the United States signed the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012.  This act mandates that the Federal Aviation Administration administer a program that integrates the use of drones into the national airspace system. 

     This bill requires that a law enforcement agency or officer conducting a surveillance operation to obtain a court order when using a drone during the course of an investigation.  The application for a court order is to provide the following: a description of the identity of the persons, if known, who are the subject of the aerial surveillance operation; a statement of facts establishing the purpose of the aerial surveillance activities and the information sought; the location where the aerial surveillance operation is to take place; a statement of the period of time during which the aerial surveillance operation is to be conducted; and a statement of facts showing that other normal investigative procedures have been tried and have failed or are unlikely to succeed or are too dangerous to employ.           

     The bill also requires that any verbal or video communication that is unrelated to the investigation for which a warrant is sought is to be discarded and not be used as evidence for a separate crime unrelated to the investigation. Law enforcement agencies, as well as any other government authority, are prohibited from utilizing drones to enforce the motor vehicle laws of this State.  

     A law enforcement agency that purchases a drone is also required to provide public notice of the purchase of the drone in a newspaper.   The bill requires that the public notice include the price paid for the drone, the size of the drone, and the supplier or manufacturer of the drone.  The bill requires that the Division of State Police in the Department of Law and Public Safety post this public notice required on its official web site. 

     The bill waives the court order requirement for the forest fire service established under the Department of Environmental Protection when the service or any members of the service utilize a drone to survey or monitor the extent of a forest fire. 

     In addition, any person who purchases, owns, or possesses an unmanned aerial system is guilty of a disorderly persons offense under the bill.  The penalty for a disorderly persons offense is a fine of up to $10,000, up to 18 months imprisonment, or both.  This penalty does not apply to law enforcement officers or to any member of the Armed Forces of the United States or member of the National Guard while on duty.