Drone Surveillance in Your Backyard? LAPD Has No Plans to Use Unmanned Aircraft ... Yet | The Informer | Los Angeles | Los Angeles News and Events | LA Weekly

Drone Surveillance in Your Backyard? LAPD Has No Plans to Use Unmanned Aircraft ... Yet

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Tue, May 15, 2012 at 2:15 PM

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So cops can now fly unmanned aircraft known as drones, which could be used to peek into your backyard and maybe even into your window at night.

So will the LAPD, a pioneer in the use of helicopters for law enforcement, soon be buzzing drones over your house as you smoke your favorite herb and become paranoid with fear?

Not likely, cops tell us:

The department doesn't really the see the advantage of using unmanned aircraft and has no plans to test them out, at least for now.

In fact, the LAPD's biggest concern, as it has been in the past, is having its manned helicopter units collide with drones.

click to enlarge LAPD
  • LAPD

But you can chillax.

The man in charge of the LAPD's Air Support Division, Capt. William D. Sutton, told us the department doesn't yet see much advantage in using drones. He thinks their safety record isn't satisfactory yet:

Back east a department had purchased one and lost control of it. It flew into a vehicle. We're going to see how it goes.

The FAA this week said that police departments could test out surveillance drones as long as they're lighter than 4.4 pounds and fly below a 400 foot ceiling.

Given the city's budget constraints, the LAPD is no hurry to buy drones, even if the drone-making capital of the nation is right here in Southern California. Sutton:

Probably 20 years from now you'll see all sorts of those things int he airspace. But it's not like we have a lot of money to throw around.

He admits, however, that "it could be the wave of the future."

[@dennisjromero / djromero@laweekly.com / @LAWeeklyNews]

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