LAPD gets OK for drone use, for good

The Los Angeles Police Department is adding drones to its tool kit for good after commissioners overwhelmingly approved the flying devices this week.

The Los Angeles Police Commission on Tuesday voted 5-0 to allow city police to start using their small fleet of remote-controlled drones.

The approval dismayed privacy advocates, who say they worry LAPD will eventually expand the use of drones beyond their currently limited mission.

LAPD’s year-long test of the machines — “small unmanned aerial systems,” in police parlance — ended in July. According to a report of the pilot program, the drones were deployed only four times in that period.

Each time, the drones were used in responses where SWAT was called to incidents involving aggressive suspects. All of those incidents ended peacefully.

Deputy Chief Horance Frank, who commands LAPD’s SWAT and counter-terrorism units, boosted drones as a way to end incidents like standoffs and hostage situations.


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