Protesters opposed to LAPD's use of drones disrupt contentious Police Commission meeting

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Thursday, July 11, 2019
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A contentious Los Angeles Police Commission meeting was disrupted by activists who are opposed to the LAPD's use of drones.

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- It's new and changing technology: drones for law-enforcement use.

Opponents worry the drones will be used for surveillance. They're concerned about privacy issues.

"They are expanding their air force now," said Jamie Garcia of the Stop LAPD Spying Coalition. "I don't want them to fly over us and put a spotlight into our backyards and spy on us. They are bringing drones into our homes."

At a police commission meeting on Tuesday, the Los Angeles Police Department presented the results of a one-year pilot program. According to the department, the drones were only deployed four times, by SWAT teams.

There is a new proposal to also use them in dangerous situations "such as barricaded suspects, high-risk warrants and explosives and hazardous materials such as suspected radiological materials and so forth," says LAPD Chief Michel Moore.

Tuesday's meeting was contentious, with a number of people objecting to any use of drones.

The commission approved the use of drone technology, Moore noted.

"There are constitutionally protected activity ... that include privacy rights of locations as described here. I fully intended to and will continue to support those rights," the police chief said.

The existing drone pilot program will continue. In about 2 to 2 1/2 months, the Police Department is expected to submit an updated plan for the unmanned devices' future use.