You are supposed to trust the police department of your city, after all they are responsible for protecting you and your property. But what happens when the police who are supposed to put criminals off the streets and who are seen as role models by little people start lying to the citizens whom they are sworn to protect? Having been lied to by their own police department, the people of San Jose might answer that question appropriately. The SJPD (San Jose Police Department) twice denied (lied) having a drone program and it took them a whole year to acknowledge its existence.
In an official ‘apology‘ issued by the department, they talked about introducing transparency in their operations and launching a community outreach program. They also talked about how they will develop an open policy that would highlight their use of the drone they are calling UAS (Unmanned Aerial System).
The SJ Police Department said in their apology note that they would pursue Federal approval of their UAS program, but hours after their initial issuance of apology, they released some additional documents claiming they were immune from FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) regulations. We don’t know what Aviation law experts they are consulting before releasing such documents, but we do know that FAA certificate is required for operating a drone, oops, a UAS.
You can read more about FAA regulations regarding UAV systems here.
The use of drones by a police force should not be secretive. The reason? Well, for starters you are not operating your ‘flying-machines’ in the battlefield! You are using your Unmanned Aerial Vehicles for patrolling (mostly) the civilian areas, and hence you owe them at least a simple announcement or statement regarding your use of drones.
We are not against usage of UAVs for patrolling. On the contrary, we think they are a valuable asset for the law enforcement agencies and should be used widely but in a highly regulated manner.
The cops have halted their ‘drone program’ (silly move, highly inadvisable) until their community outreach and enforcement procedures are completed and approved.