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A storefront along Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills reflects a battery of surveillance equipment keeping an eye on the popular high-end shopping street. 

A storefront along Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills reflects a battery of surveillance equipment keeping an eye on the popular high-end shopping street. 

Photographer: Eric Thayer/Bloomberg
CityLab
Justice

In (and Above) Beverly Hills, Police Are Watching

The affluent LA suburb has pioneered an integrated system of cameras, drones and surveillance tech that could soon be coming to a city near you.

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On July 9, a man at the intersection of Reeves and Charleville in Beverly Hills, three blocks from Rodeo Drive, methodically went down a line of parked cars, checking door handles. Several hundred feet above him, a camera-equipped drone operated by the Beverly Hills Police Department watched unobserved through a telephoto lens that can read a license plate a half-mile away.

The machine, operated by a pilot in a control room about a mile north, followed the man for roughly 90 minutes as he made his way to the city limits and left. No crimes were observed, according to the drone flight logs from that day, part of months’ worth of similar records reviewed by CityLab. The suspect likely never knew the drone was there.