San Diego Refuses to Answer FOIA Request on Drones

Comes up with myriad excuses not to comply with the law


A few months ago, MuckRock and the EFF teamed up to start a drone watch effort, in which they send Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)—or the local equivalent—requests to local governments and police departments, seeking to find out information on local law enforcement using drones. At last count, over 200 such requests have been made. You can track them here. As you might imagine, they're getting very varied responses, with some saying that there are no responsive documents. In many cases, it's likely that this is true.

However, the folks at MuckRock discovered something interesting in looking over some of the responses. While the San Diego County Sheriff's office initially stated that they had no responsive documents, reviewing the Seattle Police Department's response suggested that San Diego was lying. Why? Because the Seattle release shows an email from a manufacturer of drones, Datron World Communications, to Seattle police in which they share a sales quote that was sent to San Diego for a drone, the Scout UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle).