The Los Angeles Police Commission has signed off on allowing police to test drones, making it the largest U.S. city to do so.
Drones are often used along the border, but Houston Police, Harris County Sheriff's Office, even Texas DPS has been slow to use them for tracking or catching criminals.
“Nobody is concerned about the cameras we have all throughout Houston and the downtown area, nobody is concerned about our helicopter that can fly over and see in anybody's backyard, but for some reason there's a lot of concern about drones and I'm not sure why,” says Ray Hunt, president of the Houston Police Officers' Union.
Fort Bend County Sheriff's Major Chad Norvell says state law has yet to catch up with technology.
“There is obviously a large percentage of the population that don't like the idea of them at all,” he says. “We wouldn't use them for neighborhood monitoring, but if we did use one it would be perhaps for big events or a tactical-type situation.”
“We have a helicopter and that serves a lot of our aerial purposes, although we recognize there may be some value with drones, it's just not something we're ready to try yet.”
Hunt is convinced drones are less costly to taxpayers than the current HPD helicopter. Plus, his members support the use of drones.
“For situations where you've got suspects who flee from police and jump fences, unknown if they're armed or not, you don't want an officer having to peek over a fence if you could use a drone to go in and see if that suspect is back there,” he says.