Amidst protest, the civilian board overseeing the Los Angeles Police Department voted 3-1 in favor of the LAPD using the pilot program. On Tuesday the Los Angeles Police Department signed off on a year-long test of drones. The LAPD is the largest police department in the U.S. to do so.

According to the proposal, the drones will be specifically used by the LAPD’s Metropolitan Division SWAT Team in “dangerous, high-risk tactical situations and improve situational awareness capabilities during natural disasters and catastrophic incidents.”

Drones: safety vs privacy

Police drones have been hotly debated not only in Los Angeles but also in Boston earlier. People are concerned that drones or unmanned aerial systems would give the police too much surveillance power and threaten the civil rights of residents of LA and other cities. Like the Boston Police Departement, the LAPD has vowed to use unarmed drones only on a case-by-case basis and only under strict regulations. Protesters warned of the militarization of the police and they don’t trust the police to use drone appropriately. Some residents already feared being watched from the sky. As of yet, the LAPD will only put one drone to use and keep the second one as a backup. The Daily News reported:

Steve Soboroff, president of the commission, said before his vote the issue wasn’t about drones.

“The issue is a universal distrust and categorical distrust of the men and women of the Los Angeles Police Department,” said Soboroff, shouting above the crowd. “And I have a general trust and respect for the men and women of the Los Angeles Police Department, and I will vote for this policy.”

Soboroff’s words came after commissioner Cynthia McClain-Hill said she was opposed to the “difficult” issue.

“I am not satisfied that this department has done what it should do and needs to do in order to build the trust that is required to support the implementation of this technology,” McClain-Hill said.

What do you think? Are drones just another tool for the police to use and make our neighborhoods safer or do you fear that your privacy is impacted negatively and therefore the police should refrain from using drones. Let us know what you think in the comments below.

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