LAPD becomes nation’s largest police department to test drones after oversight panel signs off on controversial program

 In Industry News

After months of often-heated debate, a civilian oversight panel Tuesday signed off on a yearlong test of drones by the Los Angeles Police Department, which will become the largest police department in the nation to deploy the controversial technology.

The Police Commission’s 3-1 vote prompted jeers, cursing and a small protest that spilled into a downtown intersection just outside the LAPD’s glass headquarters — evidence of the opposition police have faced in recent weeks as they tried to reassure wary residents that the airborne devices would not be misused.

The use of drones — or “small Unmanned Aerial Systems,” in police-speak — has become a contentious issue for law enforcement in Los Angeles, where the nation’s largest sheriff’s department has flown one since January.

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