Sheriff’s spokesman Jeff Williamson would not reveal specific uses for the drones, larger versions of which are known for flying over tribal regions of Afghanistan and Pakistan to drop bombs on suspected terrorists.
But Williamson did say Orange’s remote-controlled planes would not be armed. The agency still needs approval from county leaders and the Federal Aviation Administration to use them. The FAA said it does not comment on drone applications.
Privacy advocates oppose drones for civilian use, saying they can too easily be used to snoop on law-abiding citizens, not just criminals or those thought to be doing something illegal.
“This is unwise and unnecessary. … Sheriffs are supposed to be sheriffs, not the U.S. Army,” said Doug Head, a Democratic activist who closely follows Orange County politics.