Peabody’s Walsh part of drone debate on Beacon Hill

BOSTON – The Bay State’s skies are a “wild west” for law enforcement operating remote-controlled aircraft, known as drones, according to a Weymouth Republican who is seeking to provide a “foundation” for how the new tools are used.

Sen. Patrick O’Connor’s bill (S 1349) would prohibit government officials from operating unmanned aerial vehicles without a warrant except in the case of an emergency.

“This is a really sound foundation for something we can grow upon,” O’Connor told the Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security on Wednesday.

Sen. Michael Moore, a Millbury Democrat and the vice chairman of the committee, filed similar legislation (S 1348) that would also allow government agencies to operate drones “for purposes unrelated to criminal investigation or other law enforcement purposes” as long as the information is not used in a criminal hearing or trial or for intelligence purposes.

Over the years, drones have played a major and controversial role

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