This story has been updated.
Police in the two big cities on either side of San Diego now have drones in their arsenals but cops here say they aren’t rushing to deploy them.
The Los Angeles Police Department announced late last week it acquired two small camera-toting drones with night-vision capabilities. On the other side of the border, new Tijuana Mayor Jorge Astiazarán Orcí wants to make drones a key part of his public safety strategy. Early this year, Tijuana police bought at least three drones from 3D Robotics, a company with San Diego ties, and recently started testing them.
But five of San Diego’s biggest law enforcement agencies told Voice of San Diego they aren’t looking to buy drones anytime soon.
Police elsewhere are increasingly using drones to monitor crowds, gather evidence after car accidents and track missing people and fugitives, among other tacks. Meanwhile, civil liberties groups and others have raised concerns about what near-constant surveillance could mean for residents’ privacy.
The furor surrounding drones has inspired many law-enforcement agencies to approach them more cautiously than other recording tools such as body cameras or traditional surveillance cameras. The International Association of Chiefs of Police, one of the most influential police groups, released recommendations for law enforcement drone use in 2012. The IACP urged police departments to request warrants when they may intrude on privacy rights and even consider using reverse 911 when a drone may be deployed in a particular neighborhood.