A civilian commission overseeing the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department voted Thursday September 28 to end the agency’s use of a drone during law enforcement operations.
The Civilian Oversight Commission voted 5-4 to ground the drone program, which began in January.
There was no immediate comment from the sheriff’s department.
Sheriff Jim McDonnell said in January the $10,000 drone would be used only for search-and-rescue operations, bomb detection, hostage situations and other critical incidents.
The drone has been used by sheriff’s deputies about a half-dozen times.
Critics have decried the use of the drone, fearing possible “mission creep,” suggesting the drone could be used for spying and could one day be armed or be deployed as a weapon.
Members of the Stop LAPD Spying Coalition were among those attending the oversight commission meeting to express concerns about the drone.
“We definitely are feeling good that the Sheriff’s Civilian Oversight Commission did the right thing,” the coalition’s Hamid Khan told KNX Newsradio after the panel’s vote.
The Los Angeles Police Department acquired two drones in 2014 but never launched them after protests about potential surveillance uses. LAPD Chief Charlie Beck has said he was unwilling to trade public confidence for the advantages of drones.