LA Police Commission to hold public hearings on LAPD drone use

The L.A. Police Commission plans to hold public hearings to get feedback on potential LAPD drone use.
Tuesday, June 03, 2014
The Los Angeles Police Department has received two drones from the Seattle Police Department. There are no current plans to use the unmanned aerial vehicles.

Seattle Police had to ground their plan after residents voiced their opposition to their use at a public hearing.

L.A. Police Chief Charlie Beck says it's a touchy issue for police to use unmanned aerial vehicles, or "drones."

Chief Beck says if his department puts them in the air, the drones would only be used for SWAT or other tactical situations.

"These are a valuable tool. They have an application," said Beck. "We want to make sure the value of that tool isn't over-arched by the resistance to its use. We want to make sure the public knows that we're using them to make them safer, and certainly not to spy on them."

The L.A. Police Commission plans to hold a series of public hearings this summer to give the public a chance to weigh in.

The American Civil Liberties Union opposes the use of the drones. The ACLU said in a statement to Eyewitness News:

"Because drones are less obtrusive than a helicopter, they can be used for completely surreptitious surveillance that a helicopter could never perform, and could pose particular threats to privacy."

Beck says the drones donated to the LAPD are currently being held in storage by a federal agency.

Beck says there's no timetable currently in place to put the drones to work for the department.

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