LAW & PUBLIC SAFETY

Asm. Prieto Says There Needs to Be a Balance With Drone Use

Lawmakers in New Jersey have approved a measure regulating the use of drones flying over the state. Assemblyman Vincent Prieto (D-32) told NJTV News Managing Editor Mike Schneider that there has to be a balance with law enforcement using drones.

“Well as the technology has evolved and these drones are going to be used, we want to make sure that we strike a balance and I think this bill strikes a balance to make sure that law enforcement is able to use them,” said Prieto. “But there’s also a component that we want to be able to keep people’s privacy to make sure that’s not violated.”

Prieto said that the bill on the use of drones in the state aims to make sure that if law enforcement agencies need to use them, they would be required to have some type of warrant. The legislation on the use of drones would protect people’s privacy and if private companies gather any information it would not disrupt privacy. There would be exceptions to the bill in the case of emergency or a natural disaster within the state.

The bill would regulate all types of activity with the use of drones but as long as it does not affect privacy, Prieto said that it could be allowed.

“We’re in the 21st century. We live in a different world after 9/11. We want to make sure that we’re mindful that we need a type of security, type of surveillance but we want to make sure we don’t infringe in people’s privacy and rights,” said Prieto.

Preito said that he is not sure of how exactly information will be made available with the use of drones. Despite not knowing the exact details, Preito thinks that it would be the same procedure as any other public information source.

Preito said he thinks that Gov. Chris Christie would agree with the legislation on drone use.

“I think this legislation is sensible. It strikes a balance,” said Prieto. “I think it’s a legislation that is being mindful of the public but keeps law enforcement as having this as a tool and for emergency responders it can be a great tool in case of emergency. So I think it strikes a balance and I think it’s a good piece of legislation that I think he would be signing.”

In a week from Tuesday, Prieto will become the newest Assembly speaker, taking over for Assemblywoman Sheila Oliver. As for his new job in the legislature, Prieto said that he is looking forward to the challenge and that there are issues that need to be dealt with, such as property taxes and education.