Tuesday, January 26th, 2021

Los Angeles To Use Drones For Extreme Threats, NOT Public Surveillance, Sheriff Claims

Published on January 16, 2017 by   ·   1 Comment


Nicholas West

Since the first known deployment of a domestic drone to aid in police work made headline news in 2011, civil liberties advocates have been warning of the slippery slope upon which we’ve descended.

In that North Dakota case, drone surveillance led to the arrest of three suspected cattle thieves; police used the justification of an armed standoff and even a potential bomb threat to call in a Predator B drone. Naturally, once this precedent was established, at least two dozen more drone surveillance flights were documented in the subsequent months.

To be sure, the debate about the use of police drones has become more commonplace, but the fact remains that dozens of police forces around the country have either shown interest, or have taken the next stop to prepare the framework for the release of drones on a variety of missions, even including drones equipped with tasers and other “non-lethal” weapons.

Of course the “slippery slope theory” can’t be invoked without a slick starting place, which makes the latest news from Los Angeles, California troubling despite some pointed restrictions stated by Los Angeles County Sheriff Jim McDonnell.

During a recent news conference, the sheriff unveiled a $10,000 per-unit unmanned vehicle that he claims is a necessary tool for the most extreme situations that pose a risk to police (see video here). Based upon a specific certificate of authorization with the FAA, parameters will be set, as recounted by Capt. Jack Ewell and reported by the Los Angeles Times, with my emphasis added:

Under the agreement, sheriff’s officials have to notify the FAA anytime the drone is airborne, and provide information about where it will be flying and for what purpose, Ewell said. The Sheriff’s Department had to submit a list of tasks the drone would be used for, and that list does not include surveillance, according to Ewell.

“The [unmanned aircraft system] will not be used to spy on the public,” McDonnell said, repeating the promise several times. “Our policy forbids using [it] for random surveillance.”

However, it turns out that the reassuring statement does not factor into the actual agreement; it is merely a promise made by the police themselves, and not subject to FAA oversight.

Ian Gregor, a spokesman for the FAA, said any agreement between his agency and the Sheriff’s Department would not actually govern how police use the device.

“We don’t prohibit the type of flight activity that a law enforcement agency conducts,” he said via e-mail. “We do have limitations on the conditions under which a drone can fly.”

The general concern over police spying has been addressed vigorously by the Los Angeles public for several years. In 2014, an organization called Stop LAPD Spying Coalition was formed specifically to document their resistance to secret drone surveillance. Late last year, the group condemned the police commission as “an affront to the principles of democracy,” after the commission closed a session to the public and refused to allow comment on police proposals.

Read More HERE

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Readers Comments (1)

  1. J.J. Ramos J.J. Ramos says:

    ” I believe you ”

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