Maggie Clark
May 1, 2013

Police and federal officers drive through a neighborhood while searching for a suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings. Police, lawmakers and advocates are questioning whether police drones could have found the suspects faster.

Even if police drones weren’t used in the manhunt for the Boston Marathon suspects, drones have become central to the post-bombing discussion of surveillance techniques. Boston Police Chief Edward F. Davis said he wants to use drones at next year’s Boston Marathon, calling them “a good idea.”

Using a drone to pursue fleeing suspects like the Tsarnaev brothers would be legal under both state and federal law. But pre-emptively hovering drones over an event still makes many uncomfortable. Lawmakers in Florida, Virginia and Idaho already prohibit that kind of drone surveillance at events, and more are debating it.

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