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USA First police interaction

Joined
Nov 13, 2018
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#1
I am a part 107 pilot which is perhaps irrelevant to the story.

On thanksgiving morning I was at a local county park filming 4x4 off road trucks climb obstacles and run through the mud when a pair of park police officers approached and told me it is against the rules to fly drones in the park.

I was polite but stern. Michigan has a uas preemption law that prohibits local units of government from regulating the use, ownership, or operation of drones. I empathized with their position as their boss told them drones are not allowed. I told them i will make sure to follow up with their boss to fix this issue but I explained that this event is one day only and I am going to continue to fly and will of course make sure to do it safely.

I went back to flying and they drove away. I was prepared to receive a citation for my non-compliance but I was confident in my position that they lack the authority to regulate drones.

Thankfully, that was the end of the interaction.

In my opinion The place to discuss these issues is administratively, not with officers in the field.

I went home, researched both the park rules and the state law, then tracked down the email for the director and deputy director.

In my opinion, their own rule does NOT prohibit use of unmanned aircraft and even if it did, state law is clear on this issue.

I’ll keep you posted.
 
Joined
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#3
My city does have an ordinance in place that prohibits drones from city parks so they could cite someone if needed. It comes out annually in the City Parks Recreation Guide in small print in the back cover. I have run into situations even on a large seemingly vacant dirt field miles from town that was considered "Critical Infrastructure" due to the land being owned by a water bank. Some solar and wind farms are appearing on the NFZ maps too. Nearby lakes are U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and off limits too.

Welcome to "You can't fly here due to...." I've even taken it up with my local councilman to set aside some vacant stadium as a practice field for training for the 107 testing center who has no idea where to fly a drone legally in this town, but he appears anti-drone so that attempt goes no where. I didn't vote for him last time, but he's back anyway.

Now if you got a lot of money, insurance, 107, and get all the permits needed, you could fly almost anywhere - even in National Parks. I applied once for a commercial permit in the National Forest and was surprised that the local county roads department requires an "Encroachment Permit" that was also needed by the U.S. Forest Service office as "They built the roads in the forest" so they want their cut just to park your car there. It was a lot too, $1,600 for three hours parking in a normal paved pullout. Without the signed "Encroachment Permit" from the county Roads Dept. the U.S. Forest Service says "No go." Welcome to bureaucracy run amuck.
 
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#4
Just curious, why did you post this on here after you already posted it over at the Mavic forum back last week? Were you looking for a different response to the situation than you got in the other forum?
 
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#5
Here was my first email:

To whom it may concern:

While visiting the mounds on thanksgiving I was approached by two park police officers who indicated that it is against Genesee County Parks rules to fly an unmanned aircraft (drone) on park property.

I’ve searched the park safety rules .pdf available for download on Genesee County Park website and am unable to find any rules that prohibit such activity.

Furthermore, even if such a rule did exist, it is likely in violation of mcl 259.305 and therefore unenforceable.

Mcl 259.305 reads in pertinent part:

“Except as expressly authorized by statute, a political subdivision shall not enact or enforce an ordinance or resolution that regulates the ownership or operation of unmanned aircraft or otherwise engage in the regulation of the ownership or operation of unmanned aircraft.”

Can you please confirm that Genesee County Parks does not have any rules that regulate the use of unmanned aircraft in the parks?

Thank you
 
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#6
And their reply:

Jason,

Park Rule Section XXIII addresses this issue. You are correct that MCL 259.305 does address this issue, please refer to Section (2). The Genesee County Parks and Recreation Commission is a political sub-division as defined by state statue.

(1) Except as expressly authorized by statute, a political subdivision shall not enact or enforce an ordinance or resolution that regulates the ownership or operation of unmanned aircraft or otherwise engage in the regulation of the ownership or operation of unmanned aircraft.

(2) This act does not prohibit a political subdivision from promulgating rules, regulations, and ordinances for the use of unmanned aircraft systems by the political subdivision within the boundaries of the political subdivision.

(3) This act does not affect federal preemption of state law.

(4) If this act conflicts with section 40111c or 40112 of the natural resources and environmental protection act, 1994 PA 451, MCL 324.40111c and 324.40112, those sections control.

You may not be aware but we have a dedicated park located on Genesee Road south of Lake Road, in Thetford Township that drones are allowed to fly.

If you have any further questions please feel free to contact me at 810-24xxxx.

Thanks Kevin Sxxxx
 
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#7
And my reply:


Kevin,​
Thank you for replying so quickly to my inquiry. I appreciate your time.​
I very much enjoy Genesee County Parks and I respect the difficult job of the Park Police. I look forward to solving this issue administratively so that I may continue flying unmanned aircraft in the park free from interference.​
I read section xxiii, but I do not believe it applies to unmanned aircraft. I will address that but first want to address MCL 259.305, specifically section 2​
You and I are obviously interpreting this section of the statute differently. (emphasis mine)​
  1. (2) This act does not prohibit a political subdivision from promulgating rules, regulations, and ordinances for the use of unmanned aircraft systemsby the political subdivision within the boundaries of the political subdivision.”
My understanding is that section 1 prohibits Genesee County from regulating the use, ownership, or operation of unmanned aircraft (drones.)​
Section 2, allows Genesee County to regulate only those unmanned aircraft that are used by Genesee County. My understanding is that if this exception did not exist, police and fire departments in the state would be precluded from creating polices, procedures, and guidelines that regulate how department drones can be utilized, what type of training is required, which personnel can operate them, etc.​
Section 2 could be read this way:​
  1. (2) This act does not prohibitGenesee County from promulgating rules, regulations, and ordinances for the use of unmanned aircraft systemsby Genesee County within the boundaries of Genesee County.”
The statute wouldn't make any sense if section 1 and section 2 had exactly opposite meanings.​
I still believe that a plain reading of the text indicates that Genesee County shall not regulate the use, operation or ownership of unmanned aircraft, except for those used by Genesee County.....and those that are mentioned in section 3, which appear to be hunting/fishing related.​
I will circle back quickly to section xxiii...again, emphasis mine.​
Section XXIII – Balloons, Airplanes and Parachutes
No person shall make any ascent or descent in any
balloon, airplane or parachute on any land or waters
administered by or under the jurisdiction of the
Commission without first obtaining written permission
from the Commission or its agent or except as may be
necessary in the event of an emergency. “
This section only appears to apply to person(s) who are IN any balloon, airplane, or parachute. Pilots of unmanned aircraft are by definition not IN the aircraft which would appear to make the above text not applicable. Second, the quadcopter drones which are the most common type are not airplanes. An airplane is commonly defined as:​
a powered flying vehicle with fixed wingsand a weight greater than that of the air it displaces.
Quadcopter drones do not have fixed wings. Again, a plain reading of the text in section xxiii would indicate that this section only applies to manned aircraft with fixed wings, not quadcopter type drones.​
I am passionate about this issue and really want to clarify the rules.so there is no confusion among the public or Park Police Officers. It is unfair to the officers and puts them in a difficult position when their superiors instruct them to enforce rules that either do not exist or are contrary to state law. The best time and place for such a discussion is not by an officer during an interaction with a park visitor.​
Respectfully​
Xxxx.​
 
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#8
Just curious, why did you post this on here after you already posted it over at the Mavic forum back last week? Were you looking for a different response to the situation than you got in the other forum?
I felt that since this forum is more dedicated to commercial pilots many people here would not frequent the mavic pilots forum and the topic is likely of interest to part 107 pilots.
 
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#11
I'm not and I only saw it here, thank you Lapeer20m. I'm just curious why you're so worried about why it's posted in two different forums
I never said I was worried. I just said I was curious. He answered the question and said he just thought more commercial people where here. To which I just replied that many of us (no you obviously) are on multiple forums.
 
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#12
The park replied:

Jason,

First of all thank you for not wanting to argue with our Police Officers when something occurs, if more people had that attitude it would make the job easier.



As for the rest of the issue, we are going to have to agree to disagree. Please take advantage of the designated park where this activity is allowed, as far as I know no other county park in the state has a dedicated park just for this activity.



If you chose to fly in any of our other parks, you do so at your own risk and may face criminal charges.



Thanks Kevin xxxxx
This is super surprisingly to me. I work in the emergency services and deal with various government entities on a regular basis. Most, when confronted with an obvious mistake, will choose to fix the issue. People generally want to do the right thing.

This reply is basically “we don’t care what the law says, we’re gonna do what we want”

Lol @ criminal charges. Max penalty is a civil infraction and a fine of $100. It’s not even a crime. I guess getting charged with obstructing or trespassing is a crime and clearly not worth the hassle.

They have a public meeting the 2nd week of December. I will attend and address the board during public comment time.

It’s a really small issue, they are clearly on the wrong side and I fail to understand why they are being so obstinate.
 
Likes: Randyaudio
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#13
I am a part 107 pilot which is perhaps irrelevant to the story.

On thanksgiving morning I was at a local county park filming 4x4 off road trucks climb obstacles and run through the mud when a pair of park police officers approached and told me it is against the rules to fly drones in the park.

I was polite but stern. Michigan has a uas preemption law that prohibits local units of government from regulating the use, ownership, or operation of drones. I empathized with their position as their boss told them drones are not allowed. I told them i will make sure to follow up with their boss to fix this issue but I explained that this event is one day only and I am going to continue to fly and will of course make sure to do it safely.

I went back to flying and they drove away. I was prepared to receive a citation for my non-compliance but I was confident in my position that they lack the authority to regulate drones.

Thankfully, that was the end of the interaction.

In my opinion The place to discuss these issues is administratively, not with officers in the field.

I went home, researched both the park rules and the state law, then tracked down the email for the director and deputy director.

In my opinion, their own rule does NOT prohibit use of unmanned aircraft and even if it did, state law is clear on this issue.

I’ll keep you posted.
"In my opinion The place to discuss these issues is administratively, not with officers in the field. " Couldn't have said it better. As a retired chief of police, my advice to citizens when dealing with police is to remain calm and respectful, remember his/her name, take it up with management later. Never, ever challenge a cop out on the streets. Bad things happen.

Arizona had the same circus with every little dump of a town wanting to regulate the sky. The State Legislature did something smart (smart and legislature are words I don't usually see in the same sentence) in 2016. They made all city drone laws null and void. BTW, sounds like you ran into a couple of smart, savvy cops, the kind I loved working with me. No need to escalate a silly drone issue into a big deal. Most cops want to be chasing bad guys, with sirens on and their hair on fire. They place drone calls in the same category as cats in trees. :)
 
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#15
The park replied:



This is super surprisingly to me. I work in the emergency services and deal with various government entities on a regular basis. Most, when confronted with an obvious mistake, will choose to fix the issue. People generally want to do the right thing.

This reply is basically “we don’t care what the law says, we’re gonna do what we want”

Lol @ criminal charges. Max penalty is a civil infraction and a fine of $100. It’s not even a crime. I guess getting charged with obstructing or trespassing is a crime and clearly not worth the hassle.

They have a public meeting the 2nd week of December. I will attend and address the board during public comment time.

It’s a really small issue, they are clearly on the wrong side and I fail to understand why they are being so obstinate.
Bureaucrats don't like to be challenged. Since you sound passionate about this topic, you need to organize all drone operators in your county. Political power only comes with numbers.:) Good luck.
 
Joined
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Virginia Beach, Virginia USA
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#16
Lapeer20m,

Thanks for your posting. It was informative.

I think you adding that you're a Part 107 flyer is a positive thing. To me, without a lot of verbiage, it says you've invested time and effort to be a knowledgeable and responsible uAS operator. Creds are helpful.

Generally, I think duplicate postings in multiple forums can be fine and appropriate. The populations of both can easily be different and PICs will value good information. Where there is overlap, an astute reader can skip over something they've read before.

Chris Crumley
====================================

I am a part 107 pilot which is perhaps irrelevant to the story.

On thanksgiving morning I was at a local county park filming 4x4 off road trucks climb obstacles and run through the mud when a pair of park police officers approached and told me it is against the rules to fly drones in the park.

I was polite but stern. Michigan has a uas preemption law that prohibits local units of government from regulating the use, ownership, or operation of drones. I empathized with their position as their boss told them drones are not allowed. I told them i will make sure to follow up with their boss to fix this issue but I explained that this event is one day only and I am going to continue to fly and will of course make sure to do it safely.

I went back to flying and they drove away. I was prepared to receive a citation for my non-compliance but I was confident in my position that they lack the authority to regulate drones.

Thankfully, that was the end of the interaction.

In my opinion The place to discuss these issues is administratively, not with officers in the field.

I went home, researched both the park rules and the state law, then tracked down the email for the director and deputy director.

In my opinion, their own rule does NOT prohibit use of unmanned aircraft and even if it did, state law is clear on this issue.

I’ll keep you posted.
 
Likes: bobodice7
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#17
It seems the local jurisdictions have authority to restrict landing/take-off sites. Once in the air it appears they have no say... that's the FAA's world.

We've really wanted to get a permit in the GGNRA for car commercials. We've lost 2 jobs so far because the location inside GGNRA was more important to the producers than the drone shot. The lady who administers permits, wanting to help out, said, "You know... you could just rent a boat." And she's right. The problem for us is that the places we want to shoot are 1,000 to 2,000 feet above sea level! :)
 

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