Police officers could soon be adding a new weapon to their arsenal: stun-gun drones.
The idea of police using drones equipped with stun guns to catch criminals isn’t all that far-fetched. Stun gun maker Taser International has already approached some law enforcement officials about potentially using weaponized drones during encounters with civilians, The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday.
Although police are just beginning to explore the use of such drones, the implications have prompted questions surrounding public safety and civil liberties.
“Many people are going to be concerned that if you can put a Taser on one, what’s going to prevent you from putting a firearm on,” Jim Bueermann, president of the Police Foundation and a retired police chief, told The Journal.
“The idea for a community to accept an unmanned vehicle that’s got some sort of weapon on it might be a hurdle to overcome,” said Pete Simpson, a spokesman for the Portland police department.
Despite this, police use of robotic technology to deal with suspects is not without precedent. In July, the Dallas Police Department used a robot outfitted with explosives to kill a gunman who had shot and killed five police officers. It was the first time a robot was used by police to kill a suspect.
The practicality of these drones is also unknown because, as Mark Lomax, executive director of the National Tactical Officers Association said, “It’s very hard to envision flying at 50 feet in the air and this thing’s moving and the person’s moving — it could be hard to tase them.”