San Jose Police to Discuss Drone at Community Meeting

The San Jose Police Department will hold another community meeting Saturday about its drone, a GoPro-strapped remote-control quadricopter it acquired early last year without public input.

Public backlash from residents and privacy advocates prompted the agency to ground the drone and release to the public a set of guidelines to limit its use. Police held a community meeting in early December, attended by more than 100 people, where they spelled out parameters for its use.

Primarily, it would help the bomb squad, police said, to investigate suspicious packages from a safe distance. It would also be used in situations with actives shooters, hostages or barricades. Footage wouldn’t be saved, only viewed in real time. All flights would have to be approved by a commander.

The meeting takes place from 1 to 3pm Saturday at West Valley Branch Library, 1243 San Tomas Aquino Road, in San Jose. For information, call Ernest Guzman from the City Manager’s Office at 408.535.8171 or visit

District 5 United, a neighborhood association, is conducting a survey about the drone, which you can take here.

If you missed the December meeting, here’s a video of the police presentation about drone use.


  1. I have no problem limiting the use of the drone to specific situations. Saying that the Department isn’t going to record the footage obtained when it is being used, however, is ridiculous. When used in situations involving active shooters, hostages and/or barricades, the footage might be highly relevant evidence. Information gathered by the drone might also become the basis for a use of force to resolve the situation, and therefore critically important when assessing the reasonableness of the force. Establishing a blanket rule that no recordings will be made is simply a short sighted, poorly thought out response to political pressure which makes no sense, especially when compared to the reasons cited in support of officer worn body cameras.

  2. This.. Again?? The same topic which is backed by Supreme Court precedent? Yeah, let’s have community meetings about that!!


    …what elephant in the room? Staffing levels aren’t below critical… What’s important about having enough cops on the street to respond to 911 calls?

  3. SJPD’s drone seems to be one of the few new crime-fighting assets that hasn’t been lured away by a better offer from a better run city. Given the stubbornness and stupidity of our elected leadership, maybe we shouldn’t be so quick to bash it.

    • Given the great union leader our police have, I suspect it will be used to hover over the elected leadership’s homes and ruin their privacy. Remember how Mayor Reed got a ticket for an offense that no one else had been ticketed before? Remember how another city official had protests in front of their home? People like you ruin the reputation of our police.

      • No one else had been ticketed for failing to use their turn signal? Wow! You are desperate to make a point which is not there…. Lets see what your friend Liccardo does by the end of January. He stated on television last week he had a plan to retain officers and hire new ones. Its time to put up or shut up. What is your man’s excuse going to be when no “plan” is implemented?

  4. SJPD has 550 officers less than it did in 2008. Patrol only responds to emergency calls and can no longer respond to lower priority, quality of life, calls for service. The department continues to hemorrhage officers to other police departments or private industry. The academy classes are only 1/3 filled due to the draconian reputation of Measure B amongst candidates, and the effect it has had on the police department. The investigative units of the SJPD have been either eliminated wholesale, or decimated. To worry about a drone, at this point, is utterly ridiculous. That the city is having a “community outreach meeting,” shows how inept and out of touch they are. The drone could be a great tool, however, there is no purpose in going through this exercise in futility with the dwindling number of officers.

    • Community outreach? So now the inmates will run the asylum. This nonsense will continue until we get a chief who has a pair. But with the current mayor and council, and a new city manager who will be cowed by the recent massacre in that department, that is unlikely. So, a few self-appointed community activists in a city of one million will continue to have too big a say in police operations.

  5. Thank you all above, there are more important issues such as staffing of city employees than the NAACP and other the hate the police groups worried about a drone. Lets have public meetings about quality of life issues in SJ. A drone is a non issue. Are you worried it might catch you committing a crime? These meetings are a waste of time!

  6. I gotta agree with the pro-police contingency here. It’s not a big deal. An remotely controlled quadcopter with a gopro taped to it. Let’s breakdown it’s specs.

    4 brushless motors. Noisy as hell, about as loud as a leafblower. It won’t exactly sneak a peek through your window.
    A gopro camera with no zoom.
    A 2100s LiPo pack? It can’t run for long.
    Remote controlled. You can trust that the FAA is not handing SJPD a permit to fly autonomous craft over a densely populated area.

    Overall the system is cheap and incapable of doing the type of surveillance SJI is trying to fearmonger… So cheap that even if it saves one life, it’s worth it. You guys should change your stance on it.

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