City Council Green-Lights San Jose Police’s Drone Pilot Program


1416_thinkstockphotos-518567833 City Council Green-Lights San Jose Police's Drone Pilot ProgramThe San Jose, Calif., City Council has given the OK to the San Jose Police Department (SJPD) for a pilot program for operating unmanned aircraft system (UAS).

According to a report from The Guardian, the council voted on Aug. 11 to approve the operations, but the Federal Aviation Administration now must give the official go-ahead.

In January 2014, the SJPD first purchased the UAS, a $7,000 Century Neo 660 radio-controlled hex-rotor, funded as part of a federal Homeland Security grant accepted by the San Jose City Council in November 2013.

Following some negative backlash from the public, including privacy concerns from the American Civil Liberties Union, the SJPD announced last summer that it should have done a better job of explaining to the community the purpose behind the purchase of the drone.

The SJPD said the technology would be able to improve certain police operational efficiencies and help enhance public and officer safety in specific, critical incidents where lives might be in danger. The police confirmed it would first develop a community outreach plan before taking steps to deploy the aircraft.

Now, under the pilot program, the UAS would be used by the bomb squad and for search-and-rescue and hostage scenarios. The aircraft would not be operated at night, used for civilian surveillance or outfitted with recording systems. These rules stem from public input at meetings by the San Jose Neighborhoods Commission, says The Guardian.

According to the San Jose Mercury News, the UAS program will last for one year; however, the FAA is not likely to approve it until late next year.

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