In 2015, Florida passed the Freedom From Unwanted Surveillance Act, which forbids police from using drones to surveil citizens. Miami Beach police seem to think they've come up with a way around that.
The device, called a "tethered aerostat," is basically a miniature blimp with a camera gimbal on its underside, so basically, a less maneuverable drone. Nonetheless, the city claims it doesn't violate the law, with city manager Jimmy Morales citing terrorism concerns at large gatherings and referring to the device as "provid[ing] an ideal vantage point in an unobtrusive manner, with a sleek, yet friendly look."
Interestingly, several sites that sell tethered aerostats refer to them by names such as "lighter-than-air drones," and whether or not the Miami Beach device violates the letter of the law, it sure seems to violate the spirit of it. The department has already deployed the device at least once, using it to monitor an Orange Bowl party on December 28. It's currently unclear if its legal standing will be challenged.
Lead image by Florida Keys Public Library, used under Creative Commons.