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LAPD adds drones to help combat crime

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As the summer season moves into full gear, tourists and locals alike may see more than manned helicopters taking up air space in Los Angeles. The Los Angeles Police Department announced on Friday that it has now added to its growing crime-fighting arsenal a total of two unmanned aerial vehicles.

The LAPD accepted the high-tech drones as gifts from the Seattle Police Department. Officials say they will deploy the Draganflyer X6 flying machines during such cases as a hostage situation or whenever a suspect is barricaded and refuses to exit a building in which he or she is hiding.

The first Dragonflyer multi-rotor helicopter was first introduced in 1999 and has since been instrumental in the important area of public safety. The drones the LAPD will put into operation are equipped with a high-tech camera, quality audio recording and infrared night-vision functions, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The newspaper reported that authorities have been hesitant to refer to the remote-controlled aircraft as drones because of negative concerns the public may have regarding invasions of privacy. However, the LAPD has made it crystal clear that this form of surveillance technology will only be put into effect for instances that are "narrow and prescribed."

The LAPD's announcement falls on the heels of a public outcry in the wake of the L.A. County Sheriff's Department's recent decision to fly a camera-equipped small plane over the city of Compton for several days without first giving residents a head's up.

"We wanted to be really up-front with the public that we're looking at using these down the road," LAPD spokesman Cmdr. Andrew Smith told the newspaper. "We wanted to make sure it didn't look like we were trying to sneak these things into action."

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