Monday, November 20

LA Police Commission votes to begin testing unmanned drone system


In August, Los Angeles Police Department officers answered residents' questions about the department's proposal to use drones to aid in situations in which police officers' lives may be at risk. The Los Angeles Police Commission approved the proposal Tuesday. (Keshav Tadimeti/Daily Bruin senior staff)

In August, Los Angeles Police Department officers answered residents' questions about the department's proposal to use drones to aid in situations in which police officers' lives may be at risk. The Los Angeles Police Commission approved the proposal Tuesday. (Keshav Tadimeti/Daily Bruin senior staff)


This post was updated Oct. 17 at 9 p.m.

The Los Angeles Police Department will start testing an unmanned drone system over the course of a year after the first drone receives federal approval.

The Los Angeles Police Commission, the civilian board that oversees the department, voted 3-1 Tuesday to begin a one-year trial period for LAPD’s small unmanned aerial system. The trial will start once the Federal Aviation Administration registers the system’s first drone. Anti-drone protesters in attendance at the LAPD Headquarters chanted “shame on you” after the decision, Los Angeles Daily News reported.

The drones will not be deployed with any weapon systems and will be used primarily in tactical or natural disaster situations where putting an officer on the field could be dangerous, according to guidelines in the system’s proposal. LAPD will retain drone recordings in accordance with city requirements and will provide quarterly reports of the small unmanned aerial systems program to the police commission.

Each quarterly report will analyze the overall effectiveness of the sUAS program and provide recommendations to the commission as to whether the program should continue after the one-year trial.

Only a Counter-Terrorism and Special Operations Bureau officer responding to a scene and the commanding officer of CTSOB can approve the use of drones, according to the proposal.

LAPD officers presented the system to communities throughout the city, including Westwood, in August. Several individuals in Westwood said they were worried officers would misuse the drone system to unlawfully spy on civilians or eventually weaponize the drones.

UCPD Lt. Kevin Kilgore said he does not think the policy will directly affect students on campus because UCPD patrols UCLA’s campus and the Westwood area. He added while UCPD may introduce its own drone policy,  the department still needs to review specific policy ideas.

Police officers use drones when they need a vantage point or to make sure a location is safe for officer entry, Kilgore said. He added drones could help emergency personnel find victims that need assistance.

Kilgore added more police departments are using drones now because of technological advancements.

“As technology evolves, we are always looking for how technology can help us better protect our community and our UCLA campus here,” he said. “So when … active shooters and stabbings and things like that (happen), we want to make sure we put ourselves in a position to provide the best protection for our campus community.”

Kilgore said if UCPD decides to implement a drone policy, UCLA and the University of California Office of the President would need to approve it.

 

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterEmail this to someoneShare on Google+Share on Reddit
City and crime editor

Preal is the assistant news editor for the city and crime beat. He was previously a news reporter for the city and crime beat.


Comments are supposed to create a forum for thoughtful, respectful community discussion. Please be nice. View our full comments policy here.

  • kareemelzein

    This is a really biased article. The author completely understated the amount of opposition to this LAPD policy change. There was an ACLU petition with over 2,000 signatures (https://action.aclu.org/secure/no-drones-in-la) and over 90% of the community feedback solicited by the LAPD was negative. The Police Commission moved forward with their plans anyways.

    The commission is supposed to be a community oversight body guided by the interests of residents. This is another example of their failure to live up to their own purpose. Your article does not highlight any of these pertinent issues about the failures of local democracy, instead painting the conflict as a difference of opinions. Residents don’t want drones. Talk about that.