City Hall Protesters Demand “Drone-Free LAPD”

The protesters said they hope LA Mayor Eric Garcetti will step in to stop the use of two drones the LAPD got from Seattle’s police department in May
By Gordon Tokumatsu and Jeanne Kuang, NBC4 Los Angeles
[LA] City Hall Protesters Demand "Drone Free LAPD"
Demonstrators gathered outside LA City Hall to demand a halt to what they call an LAPD plan to use drones to spy on citizens. Gordon Tokumatsu reports for the NBC4 News at Noon on Thursday, Aug. 21, 2014.

LAPD got the state-of-the-art Draganflyer X-6 drones for free from the Seattle Police Department in May. Civil rights activists on Thursday said Seattle residents’ protests over drone testing in their city got their mayor involved to stop the drone use. They hope they can get Garcetti to do the same.

LAPD spokesman Bruce Borihahn said a federal agency is storing the drones. He said he doesn’t know the drones’ capabilities.

[LA] LAPD Chief Discusses Drones Acquired From Seattle
LAPD Chief Charlie Beck said the drones would only be used for tactical situations after the department drafts a policy with input from civil rights groups. Raw video from Thursday June 5, 2014.
LAPD Chief Charlie Beck said the drones would only be used for tactical situations after the department drafts a policy with input from civil rights groups. Raw video from Thursday June 5, 2014.

“We’re not even in possession of these things,” Borihahn said.

Police will not use the drones in LA before a “lengthy approval process” by the civilian police commission, LAPD Chief Charlie Beck and civil rights groups, Borihahn said.

Protesters said the Draganflyer website and videos posted by other police departments using the drones around the country show the devices are small, indetectable and much less expensive than the manned helicopters currently used by the LAPD.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California applauded the department’s transparency about receiving the tool, but questioned whether its use outweighs the potential for invasion of privacy, Hector Villagra, the executive director of the ACLU of Southern California, said in a statement in June.

Beck has promised the public the drones would only be used in tactical situations such as manhunts and standoffs.

“The Los Angeles Police Department will never, ever give up public confidence for a piece of police equipment,” he said in June.