The Los Angeles Police Department, one of the nation’s largest municipal police forces, approved a one-year pilot program for drones—making it the largest city in the nation to undertake such an evaluation.
According to the Los Angeles Times, the LA Police Commission approved a set of policies that limits “their use to a handful of tactical situations, searches or natural disasters.” Each drone flight must also be signed off by a “high-ranking office on a case-by-case basis.” The drones are also not to be weaponized. The decision, which was announced Tuesday, was made despite vociferous protest.
Already the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department uses drones, as do other agencies in California, including the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department and the Alameda County Sheriff’s Organization.
“It’s a great idea and will save lives,” Sgt. Raymond Kelly of the ACSO, e-mailed Ars.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California urged its supporters to oppose the vote, noting that only a small fraction of citizens in Los Angeles expressed affirmative support for the use of drones.
In a recent letter to the LAPD, the ACLU of Southern California wrote that the new “drone policy inadequately protects residents of Los Angeles and fails to take into account public mistrust of the LAPD’s surveillance activities.”