Richland County Sheriff’s Department got back to Free Times after press time Tuesday to weigh in on state legislation that would restrict the use of drones by state and local law enforcement, expressing grave concerns about House Bill 3514.
“It’s taking a burdensome and restrictive stance toward law enforcement,” Capt. Chris Cowan says.
The position is at odds with other law enforcement, who took more moderate views of the bill in a story that appears in today's print edition of the paper.
Cowan says a major concern is that the legislation causes confusion by conflating drones with remote-controlled helicopters.
“’Drone’ denotes military equipment. We’re using radio-controlled helicopters,” Cowan says, adding that the difference lies in their capabilities. Drones can range further, higher and stay in the air longer.
Cowan says 90 percent of RCSD’s camera ‘copter’s airtime is devoted to community policing, which he defined as outreach and education programs for youths and communities.
The other 10 percent, he says, is for situations when an eye-in-the-sky could reduce risk to officers and citizens, like a recent bank robbery on Two Notch Road in which suspects fled on foot into some nearby woods.
H.3514, which cleared the S.C. House unanimously and now awaits further debate in the Senate Judiciary Committee, would prohibit the use of drones for gathering evidence without a judge’s search warrant, except in cases of extreme risk to public safety.
Cowan says RCSD’s camera ‘copter abides by the same laws and regulations that apply to law enforcement’s traditional use of planes and helicopters. He says it has never been deployed in a situation that would require a search warrant.
Conservative Republicans in both the House and Senate have introduced similar anti-drone legislation.
A Healthy Happy Hour
4-7 p.m at Good Life Cafe on Main St. Try our $4 local draft beers, $4 organic wine, 1/2 off select bottles of house wine and $5 handcrafted house cocktails with juices cold pressed and made daily. Click here for more info.
The Castle Summer Camps
Clown Camp: Ages 7-12. Week of July 28 • Zombie Camp: Ages 10-15. Week of August 4. $125 per camp, discounts for siblings! 2076 Hwy Church Rd. 803-309-5586. TheEventCastle@yahoo.com
Trustus Theatre Presents Evil Dead, The Musical
This musical version of Sam Raimi’s cult classic films promises to serve up more humor than horror. You can read more and purchase your tickets here.
Make your own beer and wine!
Come get started on your “liquid hobby” and help us celebrate our 46th year in the Columbia area. Bet Mar Liquid Hobby Shop, 736 St. Andrews Road. Click to find out how!
Happy Hour and Sushi Specials All Week
Red Bowl in Lexington now has great early bird and late night sushi specials 7 days a week, as well as 99-cent kids meals on Saturdays! Click here for special information and hours.
$7 Special Summer Menu at Tony’s Downtown
Stop in and try our special $7 summer menu (tax and drink included!) at Tony’s Pizza & Italian Eatery, downtown Columbia. 1120 Washington St., Suite 2.
SEARCH FREE TIMES
Local restaurants serving locally grown food during Palmetto Tasty Tomato Restaurant Feast, July 11-18: