Small remote operated Unmanned Aerial Systems (sUAS), also commonly referred to as drones, are an efficient and effective way of providing law enforcement critical information to officers during calls for service, emergencies, or to conduct criminal investigations. Some examples include; providing an overhead view of an area or incident for ground personnel, safely clearing the interior of buildings, providing detailed documentation of crime and accident scenes, and searching for lost or missing persons.
In 2016 the Gilroy Police Department formed the Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) Team to study the use of the technology in its public safety operations. UAS Team members met multiple times to study best practices, policies, and procedures regarding the use of UAS technology in law enforcement. A special focus of the team’s research was an effort to address concerns about public trust, civil liberties, and the public’s right to privacy during the operation of Gilroy PD UAS systems. The Gilroy Police Department’s public engagement campaign has included informational postings on our digital media platforms, a town hall information meeting, a frequently asked questions section, an informational video and an email address to voice concerns and/or questions. It is important to note, the Gilroy Police Department’s proposed Policy specifically prohibits the use of sUAS Systems for general surveillance or general patrol operations. After thorough research and planning it is anticipated that the Gilroy Police Department activates its sUAS Program in 2020 to support Gilroy Police and Fire Department’s first responders.