Los Angeles County Sheriff Jim McDonnell said Thursday that his agency will begin deploying an unmanned aerial device to aid deputies responding to arson scenes, suspected bombs and hostage situations, but he promised the device would not be used to surveil residents.

The use or attempted use of drones by law enforcement elsewhere has come under fire from privacy and civil liberty advocates, and McDonnell and other agency officials avoided using the word “drone” during a 20-minute news conference unveiling the department’s latest technological addition.

Instead, the sheriff praised the $10,000 device as a useful tool that can give deputies a life-saving advantage in potentially deadly situations.

“The dangers of law enforcement can never be eliminated,” he said. “However, this technology can assist us in reducing the impact of risks on personnel.”

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