Crime & Justice

LAPD reveals its proposed drone use guidelines

In this file photo, a DJI Mavic Pro Quadcopter drone is seen on flight at the Dronemasters 2017 convention on September 3, 2017 in Berlin, Germany. The L.A. Police Department revealed its proposed guidelines for drone use on Tuesday.
In this file photo, a DJI Mavic Pro Quadcopter drone is seen on flight at the Dronemasters 2017 convention on September 3, 2017 in Berlin, Germany. The L.A. Police Department revealed its proposed guidelines for drone use on Tuesday.
Omer Messinger/Getty Images

The Los Angeles Police Department has made its pitch on how it would operate drones to the commission overseeing it.

The proposed guidelines say drones would be deployed for search and rescue operations as well as specific situations, such as those involving active shooters.

In addition, department-operated drones would not have any weapons capabilities.

Melanie Ochoa, a staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California, argued the LAPD will seek to expand its use of drones, no matter what the guidelines say.

“We can only imagine how drones will ultimately be used, so that is why it’s not just about potential legal challenges, but rather ensuring that from the outset we are not giving away this technology that we know has the potential to dramatically interfere with our privacy,” Ochoa told KPCC.

LAPD Commissioner Cynthia McClain-Hill acknowledged residents’ unease over the potential for creeping militarization and invasion of privacy, according to the Los Angeles Times.

“It is a legitimate public concern and something that … I’m grappling with and suspect will be grappling with in a much more significant manner as we move forward,” she said, according to the Times.

The LAPD insists its drone fleet would not violate any local or federal laws.

The commission is accepting comments from the public on the drone proposal for another two weeks, at which time it will take a vote.

So far, comments from area residents have been overwhelmingly against adoption of the proposal.