LAPD Encounters Resistance Toward Drone Program

The LAPD’s lack of support from the public is said to be due to people associating drones with those used by the military.

LOS ANGELES — A board meeting to go over the Los Angeles Police Department’s (LAPD) drone proposal was met by about three dozen activists yesterday morning before the meeting could even begin.

The LAPD, which has a pair of donated drones that have been locked away for several years, has faced public outcry over the department’s desire to use the devices, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The police department wants to fly a small drone measuring about a foot long and 7.5 inches tall during incidents such as standoffs with hostage-takers or barricaded suspects, bomb scares, or shootings where a gunman is still targeting people, Assistant Chief Beatrice Girmala said.

While certain states are trying to weaponize drones, the idea behind the LAPD’s proposal is that the drones could help gather crucial information as such situations unfold, without putting officers at risk.

Girmala says the LAPD would draw up strict criteria before flying drones, with each use requiring the approval of a high-ranking department official, which would then be documented in a written report to ensure that the rules were followed.

Due to the backlash, LAPD officials are taking their time in coming up with a suitable proposal.

“In our discussions, it was very clear that if this were ever to be approved, it had to be very methodical and it had to be very thoughtful,” Girmala said.

This past January, Sheriff Jim McDonnell  announced the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department would be deploying a drone before the department had collected public feedback and after deputies had already been trained to fly the device. Despite outrage, the Sheriff’s Department continues to use the drone.

Police Commission President Matt Johnson believes drones have the potential to help save lives, but respects the public’s feedback.

”Our challenge is going to be to develop strong policies and oversight to govern this program, to govern against misuse and mission creep. It’s also critical that we get public opinion like we received today.”

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