LAPD to use drones in 1-year pilot program

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Four protesters were arrested after the Los Angeles Police Commission voted to allow the use of drones. (KABC)

The Los Angeles Police Department will be able to use drones in high-risk situations under a one-year pilot program, city commissioners decided Tuesday.

The Los Angeles Police Commission meeting to discuss the issue was interrupted by vocal protesters trying to prevent the department from using drones.

"Shame on you, shame on you" they chanted after the commission voted 3-1 to allow the program.

Protesters believe the drones will give the police too much surveillance power and threaten the civil rights of ordinary residents. A group called the Drone Free LAPD campaign collected 3,500 signatures protesting the use of drones.

Protesters then took to the street outside police headquarters and four were arrested for blocking an intersection.

LAPD Chief Charlie Beck said the drones will not be used for general surveillance or investigation of low-level crimes. He said they will used by SWAT teams in high-impact situations.

The department will put one drone into use, and maintain a second as a backup.

The drones could be in use within 30 days.

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