By Liz Enbysk.

Seattle officials pulled the plug on using drones for police work last year after protests from residents and privacy advocates. At the time, then-Mayor Mike McGinn indicated the two Draganflyer X6 Helicopter Tech drones purchased with a Homeland Security grant would be returned to the vendor.

But instead, they’ve landed at the Los Angeles Police Department as gifts from Seattle PD, according to a Los Angeles Times story.

As reporter Joel Rubin explains it, LAPD officials went to pains to reassure the public the drones wouldn’t be used to spy on them – and said if they are used at all they will be used on a limited basis. One example given is when police need to see inside a building to know how to respond to a hostage situation or a barricaded suspect.

ACLU raises concerns about potential for abuse

The Times report said LA police officials didn’t even refer to the unmanned aerial vehicles as drones to avoid the negative connotations the word arouses. Even so, an ACLU official in Southern California raised concerns about the department using them at all given the potential for abuse.

Similarly, the ACLU expressed similar concerns with the situation in Seattle, where a spokesman lauded the city’s decision to ground them. “Drones would have given police unprecedented abilities to engage in surveillance and intrude on people’s privacy and there was never a strong case made that Seattle needed the drones for public safety,” Doug Honig said in a Seattle Times story last year.

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Originally posted at Smart Cities Council.