San Jose Police Apologize for Hush-Hush Drone Acquisition

San Jose cops have a drone, but promise to ask the public before they fly it.

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    NEWSLETTERS

    San Jose's drone plans are grounded.

    What if the cops bought a drone -- and tried not to tell anyone about it?

    The San Jose Police Department is apologizing for its hush-hush purchase of a "hobbyist flying device" -- also known as a drone, since it's a robot that flies in the air -- after not going public with its purchase, according to reports.

    Police are saying sorry for applying for the federal funds needed to buy the device without telling the public or eliciting any kind of public feedback, according to the San Jose Mercury News.

    One reason why, according to the American Civil Liberties Union: Going public would have "torpedoed" the department's efforts to score the drone, the newspaper reported.

    Authorities said they wanted the drone to help bomb squads access dangerous areas. Groups like the ACLU say they're afraid cops would eventually use the drone for "warrantless surveillance," the newspaper reported.

    Online news publications MuckRock and Vice were given credit for revealing cops' intentions to buy the drone via public records requests.

    The department's apology statement in part read:

    "In hindsight, SJPD should have done a better job of communicating the purpose and acquisition of the UAS (Unmanned Aerial System) device to our community.  The community should have the opportunity to provide feedback, ask questions, and express their concerns before we move forward with this project. To this end, we will first develop a community outreach plan before we take steps to deploy the UAS."