Armed police drones will be in the Los Angels skies soon

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The Los Angeles Police Department took another step toward using drones in some tactical situations after its civilian bosses Tuesday approved a $31,500 donation to purchase the controversial devices.

The Los Angeles Times reports that yearlong pilot program, approved by the Police Commission last fall, won’t begin until the department buys the drones and teaches officers how to use them.

The donation from the Los Angeles Police Foundation will go toward four drones, Assistant Chief Beatrice Girmala told police commissioners at their weekly meeting Tuesday. Each are from DJI, a tech company specializing in drones with offices worldwide.

Girmala said the LAPD plans to use drones of varying sizes and capabilities: one small-sized, half-pound “Spark” model; two three-pound “Phantom” models; and a “Matrice” model that is the largest, weighing 10 pounds and measuring about 25 inches diagonally.

The use of drones — or “small Unmanned Aerial Systems” in police-speak — has become a contentious issue for law enforcement.

The drones stir Orwellian visions of unwarranted surveillance or fears of militarized, weapon-toting devices patrolling the skies. That’s exactly what the LAPD wants…drones that can kill citizens.

LAPD brass, along with police commissioners, tried to ease those concerns last fall by promising careful restrictions on when the drones would be used, and strong oversight of the pilot program. No one take them seriously. No rational person would trust the department to follow the rules, no matter how stringent.

Clearly the LAPD’s action will set a pattern, leading other cities to adopt the technology. Soon the police everywhere will be using armed drones to brutalize the poor, the homeless, the mentally ill, and people of color. No citizen will be safe.

It’s how California’s police state rolls.

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