Last week I dug into some claims that struck me as bogus, claiming that the LAPD was flying drones to track Christopher Dorner through Southern California. It looks like my suspicions were correct. Lorenzo Francheschi-Bicchierai at Mashable posted a write-up just a few hours after mine, but since he’s a real journalist he called the CBP and checked with them: they stated that “CPB UAS are not flying in support of the search.”
Of course, the CBP drones weren’t the only option. The day after Lorenzo’s story, Ryan Gallagher at Slate got in touch with the FAA, who said that “no agency has asked us to issue a certificate of authorization for operating UAS as part of this search.” That pretty much rules out the option that the LAPD was flying drones, even if they were officially refusing to confirm or deny the story.
On Wednesday, the morning after Dorner was discovered and killed, the LAPD confirmed that it was not flying a drone, but that it wished it could have. A police spokesman said, “The search would have been much wider and quicker because you’d have an unmanned aircraft looking. You can cover more ground.”
Given that Dorner was discovered in close proximity to a police outpost, it seems unlikely that a drone covering more territory would have been much help. But now we know, more or less, that it wasn’t used in this case.