Maybe After Shooting Two Innocent Women the LAPD Isn’t Fit to Use Drones

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The Express is reporting that the LAPD will use drone technology in their search for Chris Dorner, who is suspected of shooting a retired captain’s daughter, her fiance, and two police officers, one of which was killed.

While I desperately want Dorner apprehended, providing the LAPD with drone technology is a risky proposition. It’s not yet clear whether the drones used will be armed, in large part because the LAPD refuses to talk about their plans or their current practices. All we know is what Customs and Border Patrol spokesman Ralph DeSio has said: “This agency has been at the forefront of domestic use of drones by law enforcement. That’s all I can say at the moment.”

There are legitimate reasons to be wary of further arming the LAPD. In 2011, LAPD police officers shot and killed 54 people, an increase of 70 percent over 2010. Not only that, but last Thursday, 7 LAPD officers opened fire on two Hispanic women as they were driving. This was supposedly because their vehicle “matched his,” despite being a different model and color from Dorner’s, and despite the fact that Dorner is not two Hispanic women but one black man.

Luckily, the two women, a mother and daughter, are expected to recover. The mother was shot and the daughter struck by glass. The LA Times quotes the women’s attorney, Glen T. Jonas, as describing how police officers “gave ‘no commands, no instructions and no opportunity to surrender’ before opening fire.”

These women posed absolutely no threat to those officers. Fully 22 percent of the victims shot by police in 2011 had no weapons. In one 2012 shooting, the suspect’s “hands were cuffed behind his back at the time and he was lying on his stomach.” And when they filed their report, the police left that little tidbit of information out.

The violence goes beyond shootings. Two LAPD officers are now accused of forcing women to perform sex acts on them over the course of five years. The city of Los Angeles is being sued after three LAPD officers broke a banker’s nose in 15 places. And the department must pay a record settlement of $24 million after officers shot a teenage boy playing with a replica gun, leaving him paralyzed.

Maybe the LAPD is thinking that, with drones, they will finally start hitting the right targets. If I were a California citizen, I wouldn’t hold my breath.

Providing police, particularly the LAPD, with flying killing machines while they remain largely unaccountable for hurting and killing people on the ground is sheer madness—a recipe for more civilian deaths. Authorizing the use of drones in apprehending suspects will add fuel to a fire that must be extinguished before more innocent people are hurt.