Fla. legislators push back on drone ban after hearing LEO complaints
A bipartisan effort to overturn Gov. Ron DeSantis’ ban comes from complaints about inferior, unsafe drones on approved list
By Bill Carey
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Legislators in Florida are joining in on a bipartisan pushback against Governor Ron DeSantis’ ban of some drones after hearing from law enforcement officers across the state.
The DeSantis administration’s rule earlier this month grounded one of the world’s most popular drones made by DJI, WPLG reported.
In March, law enforcement representatives told legislators that drones made by state-approved manufacturers are faulty, have limited capabilities and are unsafe to use.
“One of our pilots, on his drive home, he heard ‘snap, crackle, pop,’ one of the batteries outside the drone, not plugged in, on the floorboard of his vehicle, caught on fire,” a representative from the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office said.
A representative from the Orlando Police Department said his department has experienced repeated failures with approved drones compared to none when using DJI drones. “In one year and a half, we had five failures with manufacturers on the state list. DJI? None,” the representative said. “That is going to put us in danger, the officers in danger, and the public in danger, when these drones continue to fall out of the sky.”
Sen. Tom Wright has sponsored a bill that would allow the DJI drones to be used until agencies can find a way to replace them, allowing them more time to find alternatives. Sen. Jason Pizzo disputed the premise behind the ban: “None of us have been shown any evidence that we are sharing state secrets to China.”
As Wright’s bill appears before committees, the Florida Department of Management services repeated its belief that DJI drones present a security risk:
“Drones manufactured by foreign countries of concerns such as China pose a significant security risk, as evidenced by the Department of Defense’s specific ban on DJI drones,” the statement reads. “Throughout the public rulemaking process, numerous state agencies and law enforcement partners supported DMS’ efforts to allow the use of drones on the original federal list as well as drones that meet certain security standards.”