Michael Patrick

The San Jose City Council has approved a new policy regarding its police department’s use of drones—likely making it one of the first law enforcement agencies in the country to formally adopt such limits.

The policy, which Ars is publishing here (the San Jose Mercury News was kind enough to share a copy), explicitly states:

The UAS [drone] would be used for the following limited purposes only:

To ensure officer safety in situations where potential explosive devices are present; or

To protect human life in emergency situations involving a threat to human life, such as an active shooter or hostage/barricade.

The policy also specifically forbids using the drone for surveillance and requires that it only be used to transmit real-time footage and data. Any San Jose Police Department (SJPD) drones “would not be used to record or store images.”

In an interview with the Mercury News, Mayor Sam Liccardo shot down the idea of any ongoing surveillance via drone. “There will be no surveillance, and San Jose will not be partnering with the NSA (National Security Agency),” he said. “This is an opportunity for us to use technology to keep the community and officers safe.”

Over one year ago,…

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