SAN JOSE (KCBS) – The use of drones by law enforcement agencies in the Bay Area has been a point of contention, with many leaders and activists fearful that it will intrude on their privacy. In fact, the city of San Jose has heard calls for a moratorium, after quietly purchasing a drone in January 2014.
But this week’s killing of Officer Michael Johnson, a 14-year veteran of the San Jose Police Department, has renewed a call by many city officials to explore all the technology available to law enforcement.
“Moments like that, where you’ve got extraordinary risk of any officer getting into an enclosed area like that,” said San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo. “We know that technology can help the police.”
Johnson was shot and killed by 57-year old Scott Dunham on Tuesday night after police responded to an apartment complex on the 2600 block of Senter Road on reports of a suicidal man.
Following the shooting, officials launched a massive manhunt, and swarmed the area of Senter and Umbarger roads. Nearby homes and apartments were evacuated and police eventually converged on the building that housed Dunham’s apartment.
Police eventually used explosives and a robot with a camera to breach the apartment, with officers confirming early Wednesday morning that Dunham had been found dead on the apartment’s balcony.
Mayor Liccardo said the San Jose City Council has approved his budget proposal that would equip police with better safety gear.
“It could be worn by officers themselves. The hardening of cars, there are shields that were desired to be installed on the sides of the patrol vehicles,” he said. “We want to do whatever we can to protect our officers and we know more needs to be done.”
San Jose police have offered no specific timetable for its community outreach regarding the drone, but will complete that before any testing of the device.