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Secret Service To Fly Drones Over Washington, D.C.

Secret Service officers search the White House grounds on Jan. 26 after an unmanned aerial drone was found there during the middle of the night.

Tourists may soon have a new attraction to look at when they visit the nation's capital. The U.S. Secret Service says it will begin flying drones over Washington, D.C., in the near future.

The decision comes just weeks after a small unmanned — and unarmed — drone landed on White House property. In late January, as we've reported, a government employee lost control of the "quad copter," crashing it in the early morning hours.

In a brief statement, the Secret Service, which is responsible for protecting the president and first family, says it will begin conducting a series of exercises in the D.C. area "in the coming days and weeks." It says they'll be conducted within the normally flight restricted areas of the capital and will be tightly controlled. The Secret Service wouldn't provide any more information.

The January incident exposed the potential threat posed by the increasing use of drones, especially over sensitive areas such as the White House, the Capitol and the Pentagon. These areas are normally restricted, but the drones are hard to detect. According to The Washington Post, the Secret Service has spent years studying how to identify and disable incoming drones.

Meanwhile, Paris is having its own issue with drones. According to The Guardian newspaper, unidentified drones have flown over the French capital for a second night in a row, raising security concerns there. Unmanned aircraft were spotted Tuesday night over Les Invalides and Place de la Concorde. Earlier, unidentified drones were spotted near the U.S. Embassy, the Eiffel Tower and the presidential palace. The Guardian says French police are investigating, but it's unclear who is responsible.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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