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Law enforcement wants expanded use of drones, security a priority

PLYMOUTH, Ind. -

Watchful eyes from the skies. Drones used by law enforcement is a heavily debated subject.

But how much surveillance is too much surveillance when it comes to security?

The Marshall County Sheriff's Department is one agency in the state that uses drones to help with search and rescues, fatality crashes, and more. 

But the Indiana State Police, and others, are hoping the flying eyes can be used for another purpose, too.

"I think in today's world of terrorism, that it's a good thing that can be flown over to make sure nothing bad can happen, or any potential hazards in the crowd that maybe need to be focused on," says Les McFarland, a patrolman with the Marshall County Sheriff's Department.

He is the only licensed drone pilot the department has. 

A bird's eye view for big crowds and big events, all to help protect the people.

But some say, it's an invasion of privacy.

"A lot of things that are most expedient for ensuring safety and security, come at great cost to our liberties," says Jane Henegar, the Executive Director of the ACLU of Indiana. 

She says the extra pair of eyes from above could limit people's freedoms and rights. 

"Every piece of technology has incredible benefits, potential benefits, but we also have to be aware and thoughtful of the potential downside," adds Henegar. 

Others, disagree.

"I don't think it's infringing on my rights. It's in the air a couple hundred feet," says Phil Martin, the President of the Marshall County Blueberry Festival.

It's an annual event that brings quite a crowd. 

"Any one day could be as many as 100,000 plus people," he says proudly.And they've used drones to help security before.our parking lots.

"A couple of years ago we had one of the police members of our security team, fly a drone over our crowds," explains Martin. "And we were able to monitor

That was back when the laws were a little different, and allowed them to do so, he clarifies. 

Both Martin and McFarland agree, the current laws and regulations need to keep up with the evolving technology, for the sake of safety.

Currently, there are both federal and state regulations that limit how, when, and where someone can fly a drone.

"I think somewhere along the line, the public, law enforcement, and lawmakers all need to come together to develop what's needed and come up with a plan or policy," adds McFarland. 

And Martin hopes that this will change soon - allowing the festival to have a drone fly-over, once again.

Indiana State Police declined to comment on this story. 

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