Details Emerge on San Jose Police Department Drone

Last week, San Jose Inside spoke with a reporter from Muckrock, an independent news site that has been looking into local law enforcement agencies attempting to acquire drones. The conversation centered around the hush-hush process in which the San Jose Police Department had acquired an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV).

On Tuesday, the site published a new report spelling out what kind of drone SJPD purchased but has yet to use.

"The documents indicate that the SJPD's bomb squad took possession of its Century hexacopter drone in January 2014 for just under $7,000, but has yet to fly the unit in operations, train any officers on its deployment, or apply for federal authority to do so," reporter Shawn Musgrave wrote.

The unit "includes a GoPro video camera, live video transmitter, and autopilot capabilities," he added.

It's not altogether clear how SJPD intends to deploy the drone, but documents justified the purchase by saying it would help with bomb squad investigations. SJPD initially denied it had any documents related to the purchase of a drone.

In an article published Wednesday, Thomas Mann Miller, of the American Civil Liberties Union of  Northern California, called for a greater level of transparency and accountability regarding the use of the drone.

"Drones can be used for a whole range of things, from the benign, like conservation efforts, to the highly objectionable, like dragnet surveillance and targeted killings," Miller wrote. "Today, SJPD may say the drone will be used to  inspect suspected bombs, but tomorrow it may want to use it to survey a 'high-crime' neighborhood. That’s why having a policy matters."

SFGate's Vivian Ho reported Wednesday that SJPD is the lone law enforcement agency in the Bay Area to acquire a drone.

Josh Koehn is a former managing editor for San Jose Inside and Metro Silicon Valley.


  1. Where can I sign up to join this Chicken Little Brigade of police state alarmists who treat with great suspicion every move of the San Jose PD? “Targeted killings?” Damn, maybe its time to revive duck-and-cover drills, or resurrect Dick Nixon.

    In case you haven’t noticed, SJPD is not the Israel Defense Forces. They’re not blowing to bits innocent children by the cord.

    SJPD can’t even target high-crime neighborhoods with adequate patrol forces. It lacks the resources to spy on street gangs, residential burglars, and armed robbers. Yet that doesn’t stop the hysterical left from going into a panic over the addition of a drone to the bomb squad’s equipment inventory. I’m surprised there’s been no outcry over the squad’s possession of a remote control car capable of scooting under women’s dresses and targeting who knows what with its camera.

    This is not a news story… it’s an ACLU wet dream.

  2. I don’t see what the issue is. Our police chopper costs about $250@hr to run, this is going to be far cheaper and quieter. Bonus points if we start equipping squad cars with them to chase after suspects, instead of officers risking life and limb hopping fences, or to chase after suspects cars so we don’t have to have any high speed car chases.

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