LA County Sheriff Jim McDonnell said the $10,000 device — which he unveiled at a press conference late last week — would give deputies the tactical edge in dangerous scenarios like arson scenes, bomb threats and hostage situations. It would not, he pledged, be used to “spy on” residents.
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“The dangers of law enforcement can never be eliminated,” McDonnell said. “However, this technology can assist us in reducing the impact of risks on personnel.”
The new drone is capable of remaining in the air for up to 20 minutes when fully charged. It can also travel as high as 400 feet and reach a maximum speed of over 50 mph. It’s operated via remote control which has been outfitted with an iPad so deputies can see what the camera sees. Per Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) rules, the deputy using the device is required to have visual contact with it at all times when it’s in the air.
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Thus far, eight deputies are trained to use the drone, said Capt. Jack Ewell of the department’s Special Enforcement Bureau.
There are now over 300 departments that have FAA authorization to use drones, McDonnell said, including thirty in California alone.
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