SAN JOSE (KCBS) – Reaction to the San Jose Police Department’s plans to use a drone ranged from outrage and rejection to measured support at a community meeting Wednesday where residents finally got a chance to sound off on the new technology after months of simmering anger about the secretive purchase.

The meeting to allay concern and seek public input began with a mea culpa.

“We went about this the wrong way. The idea in having this meeting here today is to go ahead and have that meaningful conversation, to be transparent,” said Officer Albert Morales, a spokesman for the police department.

Police outlined how the drone would be used in various types of law enforcement situations.

It would keep bomb squad technicians out of harms way and help SWAT officers in hostage and barricade situations, said Deputy Police Chief Dave Hober, in charge of the Bureau of Field Operations.

Resident Mike Favela reflected both sides of the debate sparked by the proliferation of relatively inexpensive unmanned aerial systems.

“I do support in the way that the SJPD wants to use it. My worry is,” he said, “as technology progresses, when will it stop and when is it that you guys are going to be able to do all sorts of things.”

Other residents were less receptive, sounding fearful notes about increasing the Police Department’s surveillance capabilities.

The American Civil Liberties Union has called on cities to adopt ordinances requiring public review before new surveillance technology is even purchased.

Police were asked to return with a draft usage policy before the next community meeting about the drone, set for Dec. 6.

Comments (2)