The aircraft was unveiled by the Sheriff's Department in January and has been deployed four times, mostly in search-and-rescue missions. The department has said the 20-inch-long unmanned aircraft system, which cost $10,000, would strictly be used in high-risk tactical operations — such as fires, bomb detection and hostage situations — and not for surveillance.
But activists have warned of possible "mission creep," saying they're worried the drone could be used for random spying on residents and could one day be armed or be deployed as a weapon itself.
In 2012, the Sheriff's Department used a plane to secretly shoot video footage of the streets of Compton in order to catch criminals. The operation was widely criticized once it was discovered, particularly because community members said they were not informed or consulted about the project.