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.