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LAPD wins OK to test drones despite privacy concerns

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- The Los Angeles Police Department has won permission to start flying drone aircraft.

Despite concerns over privacy, the civilian Police Commission on Tuesday approved a one-year test program.

The drones will only be used for high-risk incidents such as hostage situations, search-and-rescue operations, the hunt for gunmen and natural disasters. The aircraft won't have weapons.

Opponents fear that "mission creep" eventually could lead to armed drones and aircraft spying on the public.

Demonstrators gathered outside police headquarters and briefly blocked traffic.

The LAPD acquired two drones in 2014 but hasn't deployed them amid the privacy concerns.

The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department has had a drone since January but has used it only a handful of times.