The LAPD first toyed with the idea of ramping up its public spying safety program with the introduction of drones back in May 2014. At that time, the LAPD announced it had acquired two “unmanned aerial vehicles” as gifts from the Seattle Police Department, Draganflyer X6 aircraft to be exact, after a public outcry in Seattle grounded the controversial program. Unfortunately, or perhaps not, LA’s drone efforts quickly met the same fate as Seattle’s after a public outcry.
But, ‘if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again’ seems to be the motto for the LAPD which, after 3 years of patiently waiting, finally received approval from a civilian oversight committee to unleash its drone program on the general public. Per the LA Times:
After months of often-heated debate, a civilian oversight panel Tuesday signed off on a yearlong test of drones by the Los Angeles Police Department, which will become the largest police department in the nation to deploy the controversial technology.
The Police Commission’s 3-1 vote prompted jeers, cursing and a small protest that spilled into a downtown intersection just outside the LAPD’s glass headquarters — evidence of the opposition police have faced in recent weeks as they tried to reassure wary residents that the airborne devices would not be misused.
The use of drones — or “small Unmanned Aerial Systems,” in police-speak — has become a contentious issue for law enforcement in Los Angeles, where the nation’s largest sheriff’s department has flown one since January.
LAPD brass, along with police commissioners, tried to ease those concerns by promising careful restrictions on when the drones would be used and strong oversight of the pilot program. Weapons and facial-recognition technology will also be prohibited.
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