LOS ANGELES (KABC) --The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department is launching an Unmanned Aircraft System to help deputies in dangerous situations.
The drone program was created as an extra set of eyes to help during tactical operations.
LASD Sheriff Jim McDonnell said the department is one of only 30 in the state permitted to use the UAS.
Officials say the $10,000 drone program will be used for observation purposes during operations like search and rescue, disaster response and barricaded armed suspects -- just to name a few.
"This provides investigators with information before they actually enter the scene and can affectively assist them with a rapid assessment of what they are dealing with," McDonnell said.
Deputies say the drone can reach an altitude of 400 feet in the sky and the battery life is 20-25 minutes long. Video will not be recorded without prior approval, and McDonnell insisted that the drone will not be used to spy on the public.
Catherine Wagner with the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California said drones not only pose a privacy threat to the public, but it also brings up questions about police use of force.
"We saw in Dallas the police department using a robot to detonate an explosive device," she said. "I know that police departments in other jurisdictions have used robots to try to disarm suspects in the past."
She added that before the drone is used, the LASD should make the drafted policy public.