Welcome to PhantomPilots.com

Sign up for a weekly email of the latest drone news & information

Run in with the Police..

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Jdbik2, Apr 26, 2015.

  1. Jdbik2

    Joined:
    Feb 27, 2015
    Messages:
    3
    Likes Received:
    1
    Hello everyone,

    I wanted to share a quick story with everyone so that they can be prepared if they have a run in with law enforcement.

    I was flying from a park near downtown Tampa which is also near the arena which had a small event going on, no I was not flying right on top of the crowd. However, due to the political content of the event there was a larger than normal police presence for this day/time. A cop spotted me and ran over to me at the time I was landing the phantom. He was being a bit of a tough guy asking me what I was doing, I simply told him I was a hobbyist and asked if I had done anything wrong. He said I shouldn't be flying over the arena as a crowd was nearby (never said one way or the other if I had done something wrong). Then two other officers showed up as backup and one asked to see my ID. Although I am aware I was not obligated to provide it as they never told me what crime I was suspected of, I provided it because I really am a hobbyist not doing anything wrong and didn't feel the need to make this a crappy situation when they were just doing their jobs. One officer started snooping around my phantom bag and I told him he could have a look, at which time he started taking multiple photos of all my equipment with his cell phone. One of the officers then asked me (three times total thought the ordeal) if I was selling the picture/video I was taking. I told them no of course and reminded them I was just a hobbyist. They finally calmed down as I answered all their questions.

    At this point I thought the ordeal was over when one of the officers remarks to me "Well, are you going to fly it some more?" I responded, "Is this a trick or something?" They said no as long as I fly in the other direction. So I took off again and they were so amazed asking tons of questions about the app, controls, range, battery life, where I got it, etc, etc. The whole ordeal went from a cop charging at me acting like a tough guy to the 3 of them thanking me at the end!

    Bottom line is:
    Follow the guidelines (no night flying, 5 miles from an airport, under 400 feet etc.) and apparently do not sell your footage as perhaps you need some type of license to do so?

    Cops are curious. It is new to them to and they want to be educated on them.

    Here is the link so you can see what type of flying I was doing to attract their attention and you can be the judge.



    Thank you,

    Jonathan
     
    Air5 likes this.
  2. damoncooper

    Joined:
    Mar 20, 2014
    Messages:
    745
    Likes Received:
    49
    Location:
    Boston, MA
    Nice job staying calm.
     
  3. Clipper707

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2014
    Messages:
    887
    Likes Received:
    327
    Location:
    SF Bay Area
    "Is this a trick or something?" <-- made me laugh.

    Excellent handling of the situation and a good story. Same thing happened to me in Myanmar.
     
  4. Hughie

    Joined:
    Nov 22, 2014
    Messages:
    1,477
    Likes Received:
    140
    Location:
    Leeds, United Kingdom
    Thanks for posting. Interesting story, and nice footage. However, you would not get away with much of that in the UK without special permission (flying over congested area, flying within 50m of structures, bridges etc etc), but it looked like fun.
     
  5. Marlin009

    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2014
    Messages:
    1,091
    Likes Received:
    515
    Location:
    West Coast of Florida
    Amalie looks like it is right at 5 miles from TIA. Guess it depends on where they measure.
    Sounds like you handled it well. Go Bolts!
     
    SteveMann likes this.
  6. SteveMann

    Joined:
    Aug 27, 2014
    Messages:
    1,977
    Likes Received:
    652
    Location:
    Westford, MA
    The FAA measures distances from airports from the geographic center of the property.
     
    Marlin009 likes this.
  7. Wolford

    Joined:
    Apr 22, 2015
    Messages:
    50
    Likes Received:
    5
    I'm happy to hear the situation didn't escalate. It sucks that we need to essentially forfeit our rights in order to prevent these things from escalating...
     
  8. Marlin009

    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2014
    Messages:
    1,091
    Likes Received:
    515
    Location:
    West Coast of Florida
    Looks like he just squeezed it in.
     
  9. SteveMann

    Joined:
    Aug 27, 2014
    Messages:
    1,977
    Likes Received:
    652
    Location:
    Westford, MA
    The problem is the FAA Law Enforcement Guidance For Suspected Unauthorized Uas Operations that was sent to all law enforcement offices around the US last year. Download it here.

    It reads: "The agency recognizes though that State and local Law Enforcement Agencies (LEA) are often in the best position to deter, detect, immediately investigate,(1) and, as appropriate,(2) pursue enforcement actions to stop unauthorized or unsafe UAS operations."

    Footnotes:
    1 At least in terms of initial contact with the suspected offender.
    2 Applying any laws falling within the enforcement authority of the LEA in question.

    The worst part of this memo is "Local law enforcement is in the best position to inquire and make initial requests to identify and preserve this form of evidence or obtain legal process for securing this evidence in the context of an investigation of a possible violation of state criminal law." To the average Barney, 'preserve evidence' means confiscate everything. And it has happened.

    Download the guide and memorize it for the next encounter.
     
  10. Wolford

    Joined:
    Apr 22, 2015
    Messages:
    50
    Likes Received:
    5
    Bottom line..do everything legal (as you were doing) and still prepare to face harassment and wrongful detainments/questioning
     
  11. Wolford

    Joined:
    Apr 22, 2015
    Messages:
    50
    Likes Received:
    5
    Thank you for this information. I am within 5 miles of JFK airport and ordered my first Phantom...Still trying to figure out how I can legally fly this guy without getting stopped and harassed...
     
  12. SteveMann

    Joined:
    Aug 27, 2014
    Messages:
    1,977
    Likes Received:
    652
    Location:
    Westford, MA
    You probably *will* be harassed at some point. The FAA "guidance" basically gives the local LEO open season to decide what is unsafe operation or not. I recommend that you join the AMA (link). The AMA is a pretty useless organization as they have historically been hostile to drone operators and especially FPV flights. (Yes, I am a member). There are two benefits, however. The first is that the AMA has an insurance policy where all members are named insured, and second is the membership card to show to Deputy Dawg to support your claim that it is a hobby flight.
     
    Wolford likes this.
  13. ccase39

    Joined:
    Jan 3, 2015
    Messages:
    471
    Likes Received:
    17
    Sounds like they were doing their job trying to keep the public safe, especially since there was politics involved. Glad they were cool about it.

    I was flying over the marsh last week and a sheriff's boat pulled up to my boat. He was really cool and was just curious. He said the sheriff's office has 3 of them and they can't keep them in the air. GPS problems. He didn't know what brand.
     
  14. Wolford

    Joined:
    Apr 22, 2015
    Messages:
    50
    Likes Received:
    5
    Steve you are truly an incredible member of this community. Thank you for this!
     
  15. rless

    Joined:
    Apr 6, 2015
    Messages:
    2
    Likes Received:
    0
    Cool video! I'm surprised they didn't say anything about the airport on Davis Island or flying so close to TGH which has the helicopter landing area not far from there. Ive been wanting to fly in downtown area but have been avoiding it because of those two reasons.
     
  16. donco234

    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2015
    Messages:
    65
    Likes Received:
    55
    Location:
    Oregon Coast
    Cops are people first and cops while at work. They are trained to assure that they have any situation 100% in control and not allow any unknowns to surprise them. Even though they probably didn't have any idea what they were looking for, they were trying to make a threat assessment of you and your equipment at first. Don't forget, no one thought of two brothers on foot with backpacks at the Boston marathon was a problem until too late.

    Most, not all, will calm down as soon as you 1) recognize their authority by answering their questions and doing what they say 2)don't exhibit any evasiveness or other guilty behavior(they have been trained in this) 3) act normal.

    It seems from your story that they just became "guys" as soon as they relaxed and were the typical "wish I had one of those" bystanders. Most of them are in a tough situation and seldom have specific knowledge of "drones" etc. Drone is the same word they use for those government things that kill people.

    I think that you handled this perfectly.
     
    dirkclod and Jdbik2 like this.
  17. offthefront

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2015
    Messages:
    102
    Likes Received:
    24
    Location:
    Northeast Florida
    Just don't put your hands up ..... Or mention "Virgins" ..... :)
     
  18. eckoner

    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2013
    Messages:
    360
    Likes Received:
    9

    Your take on this is spot on in my opinion. Most cops feel they have better things to do than harass people not doing anything wrong. (In most cases) lol
    From my experiences cops including Beverly hIlls Swat are so curious about these things they become giddy and like kids when they are allowed to complete their threat assessment. I have since made friends with a few of them and often fly with them from time to time. People Too!
     
  19. kirk2579

    Joined:
    Jan 13, 2015
    Messages:
    1,334
    Likes Received:
    261
    Location:
    Girard. ohio
    True,
    I was on a service call 2 weeks back at small village Hall. Mentioned to Police chief about drones and we talked about how useful they were etc. Then I said I had my 2 in car outside!

    I could not keep up with them running to my car to check them out...lol
    lucky it is was one of few decent days in NE ohio, so I put it up for a couple minutes for them.



    also was out flying a week later and near home and a local officer pulled up and we chatted a bit ( had to Notify ccw in Ohio).
    when done he said have fun and take care.
     
    Jdbik2 likes this.
  20. 750r

    Joined:
    Nov 27, 2013
    Messages:
    1,226
    Likes Received:
    420
    Location:
    Pa, USA
    The moral to the story is GIVE RESPECT GET RESPECT with cops !
    Nice vid :)
     
    Air5, dirkclod and Jdbik2 like this.