Drone FAQs

What is a drone or UAS?

​UAS is an Unmanned Aerial System, commonly called a drone. A drone is an aerial device with an onboard computer operated remotely, generally by a pilot on the ground using a handheld controller. Small drones are battery operated, weigh less than 55 pounds, have several rotors like a helicopter, and are equipped with a video camera.

Where is the video and photos taken by the UAS stored?

​All video and photo evidence taken during any UAS mission will be stored in the same manner and location as Body Worn Camera (BWC) video and other investigative evidence. Evidence is stored and saved for a limited time (one year or less) unless categorized as evidence in an actual crime or formal investigation. Then it is stored for a period consistent with all other evidence related to that incident/investigation.

Who has access to the video and photos?

​Video and photos collected by UAS are stored for the purposes of conducting police investigations and subsequent prosecutions. Accordingly, videos and photos are generally accessible to police investigators for official use only. Like all police records, video and photos may also be subject to additional release under the same rules and restrictions as BWC Video and other items of evidence.

How is my privacy protected?

​The intent of the UAS/Drone program is to enhance the Police Department’s response to emergency calls for service. As such, drones are used during an active response to an emergency or other call for police assistance. Gilroy Police Department policy prohibits drone operators from intentionally recording or transmitting images of any location where a person would have a reasonable expectation of privacy, such as private backyards or inside private buildings, except where authorized by a warrant issued by a judge or in emergency situations.

What training will Gilroy Police Department UAS pilots undergo?

​In addition to the training and study required to maintain a FAA Part 107 Remote Pilot License, all Gilroy Police Department UAS Team members will train regularly in a variety of locations and settings to ensure operational efficiency. All training will be documented, and the records are maintained by the Gilroy Police Department and are subject to review by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

What rules and regulations must Gilroy Police Department’s UAS pilots follow?

​All Gilroy Police Department’s UAS pilots are subject to FAA regulations related to airspace use, and all must have a valid “Part 107” Remote Pilot License. UAS Pilots are also subject to the Gilroy Police Department Policy on UAS Operations, which will be available on the Gilroy Police Department website.

Why will Gilroy Police Department use UAS rather than helicopters?

​Helicopters and other manned aircraft (air support) are very expensive to operate. Currently, the Gilroy Police Department relies on the Santa Clara Sheriff’s Department and/or the San Jose Police Department for air support. UAS can be used in a variety of ways that supplement mutual aid air support requests in a cost-effective and efficient manner.

When does The Gilroy Police Department use UAS (drones)?

​The Gilroy Police Department will use UAS in a variety of circumstances such as documenting crime and accident scenes, searching for missing or wanted persons, rescue missions, fires, evaluating damage after a major incident or natural disasters, during SWAT missions and community events. Incidents can happen anywhere in the City and the Gilroy Police Department’s UAS Team will respond to those on an as-needed basis.

How do I ask a question or make a complaint about UAS use in the City of Gilroy?

​Anyone may email the UAS Team directly at uasteam@cityofgilroy.org. Individuals from the public may make complaints in any form, including in writing, by email, in person or by telephone.

​For more FAQ related to UAS, please see FAA’s link here: