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I was arrested for flying a drone

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I posted this over on mavic pilots but thought it may also be of interest to those who do not frequent that forum.

I can finally talk about this now that the legal matter is settled.

A few weeks ago, I was flying my mavic. An officer approached and told me drones are not allowed in the park. I was polite and told him that I’m pretty smart when it comes to drone law and I did not know it was illegal to fly here. I asked if he could show me where this rule was written. I’ll call him “good cop”

I already knew that a: there is no such rule, and b: even if there was, Michigan has a strong preemption law that prevents local units of government from enacting or enforcing any rule regarding the possession or operation of unmanned aircraft.

This officer called for backup. A second officer arrived. I’ll call him “bad cop.” He was pretty hostile and came towards me with a little
Booklet and said basically “it says right here, ascending or descending....” pointing at rule 23, which prohibits manned aircraft, manned hot air balloons, or manned parachutes from ascending or descending in the park.

I said “can I ask you a question?”

He said yes

“Am I in an airplane?”

That was it. He had me turn around and put my hands behind my back.

He searched me, and laughed when I told him I do not consent.

Then stuffed me in the back of a police car. They pulled me out after a few minutes and searched me again. I was able to hand them a copy of the state preemption law, which I was able to reach because it was in my back pocket. Then they stuffed me back in the patrol car.

My mavic and iPad were confiscated, and just to let me know who’s in charge, he took my personal cell phone too.

After about 30-40 minutes I was released with a misdemeanor citation for “unauthorized flying of drone in park” citing rule 23.

They kept all of my stuff. I was able to get my cell phone returned after a couple of days. I still haven’t gotten my mavic or iPad back.

All of the audio was recorded on my Apple Watch. I will post it here shortly.

I’m a 40 year old professional. I’ve never been in handcuffs before this. It was unexpected to say the least.

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Im not a lawyer, and I cant offer you authorataive legal advice, however, i have learned a few things about law enforcement officers over the years....
While it should be only about the letter of the law, it very often isnt....i have never been successful in convincing a cop I am smarter than he is...and being right matters very little when you are being shoved into the plastic back seat behind the steel mesh divider of a patrol car while wearing handcuffs...they win...every time.
While I mandate our pilots also carry the printout of the rules with them, my training for my team , and suggested plan of action is to offer an apology for misunderstanding the rules, land the aircraft immediately, but carefully exercising supreme safety, and telling them I must have been misinformed by the publication I got off the local agency's website...and ask if they mind looking at the information I thought was correct, and helping me to understand where I screwed up....
If they look it over, and agree with it, great...or they may show me a conflicting rule or law that i wasnt aware of...
But if they dont want to see it, or if they do, and tell me its wrong, either way I am very unlikely to win an argument if they are not amicable about it...the time and place to win the "what is correct law" is not from the back seat of the cop car.
I tell my pilots its my equipment, not theirs, and if they were following original flight plan, not breaking any other laws, and have followed my above instructions and still get it confiscated, not their issue...but if they play lawyer and tick off the cops, and get it confiscated, they are responsible for the equipment.
I realize its always easy to say what someone should have done...after the fact, and most of my wealth of advice comes from having dine it differently, and thats why we train for this issue up front, beforehand.
Hope this is helpful, sorry to see your situation didnt work out ..., you will most likely win if you get a good lawyer...just a whole lot of hoops...
 
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Im not a lawyer, and I cant offer you authorataive legal advice, however, i have learned a few things about law enforcement officers over the years....
While it should be only about the letter of the law, it very often isnt....i have never been successful in convincing a cop I am smarter than he is...and being right matters very little when you are being shoved into the plastic back seat behind the steel mesh divider of a patrol car while wearing handcuffs...they win...every time.
While I mandate our pilots also carry the printout of the rules with them, my training for my team , and suggested plan of action is to offer an apology for misunderstanding the rules, land the aircraft immediately, but carefully exercising supreme safety, and telling them I must have been misinformed by the publication I got off the local agency's website...and ask if they mind looking at the information I thought was correct, and helping me to understand where I screwed up....
If they look it over, and agree with it, great...or they may show me a conflicting rule or law that i wasnt aware of...
But if they dont want to see it, or if they do, and tell me its wrong, either way I am very unlikely to win an argument if they are not amicable about it...the time and place to win the "what is correct law" is not from the back seat of the cop car.
I tell my pilots its my equipment, not theirs, and if they were following original flight plan, not breaking any other laws, and have followed my above instructions and still get it confiscated, not their issue...but if they play lawyer and tick off the cops, and get it confiscated, they are responsible for the equipment.
I realize its always easy to say what someone should have done...after the fact, and most of my wealth of advice comes from having dine it differently, and thats why we train for this issue up front, beforehand.
Hope this is helpful, sorry to see your situation didnt work out ..., you will most likely win if you get a good lawyer...just a whole lot of hoops...
Excellent advice. As a retired cop I've given it to all my friends and family. Never argue points of law with the cops on the streets. Be nice and respectful. After the cops leave, write everything down while it's fresh on your mind; calm down and then and only then, go to the PD and file your complaint.
Imay be a retired cop but that means squat to other cops and I fly in lots of places the cops do not know me. When I am approached by cops I am super polite, always carry all my paperwork and show it when asked. Someday I am bound to be approached by an applehole cop. And I will play along until I get a chance to file a complaint (if necessary), avoid being smart alecky. Just the cost of doing business.

Bottom line, be nice to people who carry guns and badges and can arrest you..

"I can finally talk about this now that the legal matter is settled. " So what's the rest of the story???
 
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Excellent advice. As a retired cop I've given it to all my friends and family. Never argue points of law with the cops on the streets. Be nice and respectful. After the cops leave, write everything down while it's fresh on your mind; calm down and then and only then, go to the PD and file your complaint.
Imay be a retired cop but that means squat to other cops and I fly in lots of places the cops do not know me. When I am approached by cops I am super polite, always carry all my paperwork and show it when asked. Someday I am bound to be approached by an applehole cop. And I will play along until I get a chance to file a complaint (if necessary), avoid being smart alecky. Just the cost of doing business.

Bottom line, be nice to people who carry guns and badges and can arrest you..

"I can finally talk about this now that the legal matter is settled. " So what's the rest of the story???
Excellent advice...
And for heavens sake don't try the "I do not consent... I am a sovereign citizen. I was not "flying" a drone I was merely levitating an object as allowed in the constitution." [tongue-in-cheek]

Also... I find that I have had a lot less interference from Joe public [and consequently the police] when I wear my yellow vest, put out the landing pad with cones and an a-frame with "Caution Drone operation in progress... etc" when a curious looker comes by and starts to ask questions I politely tell them I am not allowed to engage in conversation while flying, but would be more than happy to answer any question after I land [ok so little fib... but have never been challenged on it]...

Prior to this approach I have even had people in one instance take shots at it... luckily it was with a rifle - not shotgun. In community meeting that I have been to some have violently threatened to shoot it down... "if you fly that thing over my house I'll shoot the f%^&* thing out of the sky"...

The other day I had occasion to talk to an FAA inspector in Honolulu about another matter, but this "threat" came up... he said that if I had the guys name and number or any other details he would turn it over to the FBI... (he has a case like this now in Honolulu) he said that a threat to shoot down a drone is considered by the FBI to be terroristic threatening as a drone is officially designated an aircraft... and is akin to threatening to shoot down an airliner... [I know, but still]... So now I will inform any other idiot that threatens such with these facts... "The FBI will investigate any threats against drones"

Aloha and looking forward to the outcome of this case... good luck brah.
 
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[QUOTE="Hawaii Aerial Visions LLC, post: 192997, member: 43819"
And for heavens sake don't try the "I do not consent... .[/QUOTE]

This might be the worst advice ever given on this web site.

I recommend you start with this video:

 
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Guys, for anyone operating in the USA, this incident and others like it are a prime example of ‘death by a thousand paper cuts’. Without full FAA preemption we will forever be mired in thousands of different and conflicting rules and regulations from thousands of different municipalities, towns and city governments. It’s exactly why the air commerce act of 1926 was passed to provide relief for full size ops. It was unworkable and untenable to have each city dictate where and when aircraft could land and what they could do. We desperately need the same for UAS. I travel for work almost exclusively and having to deal with different rules in each city is becoming more and more of an issue. Just the different film office requirements alone are difficult enough not to mention things like local police. Most filming jobs in major cities require police lockups for vehicles and pedestrians and I love having cops on set. It always helps in every aspect. But when flying alone in a park it’s a whole different situation.

I recently did a UAS demo in Seattle which was coordinated by the film office. There were city reps, attorneys, parks dept and police present among others. Around a dozen SPD officers. Great guys but the truth is they don’t know aviation or drone law. Certainly not very well. I don’t blame them- they have enough other crap to worry about as it is. I explained as much as I could in the hour or so we had and they were surprised by some of the federal regulations. But bottom line, if in the field and approached by officers, I think the advice above from licensed pilot and Toledo JDF is right on.

It’s also hilarious the FAA counts on local police for UAS enforcement but 7/10 officers don’t know what to enforce.
 
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Guys, for anyone operating in the USA, this incident and others like it are a prime example of ‘death by a thousand paper cuts’. Without full FAA preemption we will forever be mired in thousands of different and conflicting rules and regulations from thousands of different municipalities, towns and city governments. It’s exactly why the air commerce act of 1926 was passed to provide relief for full size ops. It was unworkable and untenable to have each city dictate where and when aircraft could land and what they could do. We desperately need the same for UAS. I travel for work almost exclusively and having to deal with different rules in each city is becoming more and more of an issue. Just the different film office requirements alone are difficult enough not to mention things like local police. Most filming jobs in major cities require police lockups for vehicles and pedestrians and I love having cops on set. It always helps in every aspect. But when flying alone in a park it’s a whole different situation.

I recently did a UAS demo in Seattle which was coordinated by the film office. There were city reps, attorneys, parks dept and police present among others. Around a dozen SPD officers. Great guys but the truth is they don’t know aviation or drone law. Certainly not very well. I don’t blame them- they have enough other crap to worry about as it is. I explained as much as I could in the hour or so we had and they were surprised by some of the federal regulations. But bottom line, if in the field and approached by officers, I think the advice above from licensed pilot and Toledo JDF is right on.

It’s also hilarious the FAA counts on local police for UAS enforcement but 7/10 officers don’t know what to enforce.
"It’s also hilarious the FAA counts on local police for UAS enforcement but 7/10 officers don’t know what to enforce. "
The unfortunate side of the story is that cops like responding to drone calls as much as they like finding the donut shop ran out of glazed :eek:. Cops want to chase bad guys, lights & siren on with their hair on fire. Most hate drone calls. I was a cop and a chief of police. Police departments have a duty to train their officers on all ordinances and laws, including drones. Obviously some have not. I have tried to do so in my little corner of the world.

It will take time, I expect things will normalize as more police are educated. Adopting a combative attitude towards police will help no one.
 
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[QUOTE="Hawaii Aerial Visions LLC, post: 192997, member: 43819"
And for heavens sake don't try the "I do not consent... .
This might be the worst advice ever given on this web site.

I recommend you start with this video:

[/QUOTE]
HA HA HA - omfg I have actually met a "sovereign citizen" are you also a Moorish Indigenous person and a flat earther? I suppose you also believe the recent Chinese moon landing was actually shot in a studio also... funny how there are thousands of videos of you idiots getting your windows smashed by police trying to do their jobs - yet not one video of you actually winning that inane argument in court.... thanks for my morning laugh.... still laughing.... "I do not consent...." ha ha ha
 
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This might be the worst advice ever given on this web site.

I recommend you start with this video:

HA HA HA - omfg I have actually met a "sovereign citizen" are you also a Moorish Indigenous person and a flat earther? I suppose you also believe the recent Chinese moon landing was actually shot in a studio also... funny how there are thousands of videos of you idiots getting your windows smashed by police trying to do their jobs - yet not one video of you actually winning that inane argument in court.... thanks for my morning laugh.... still laughing.... "I do not consent...." ha ha ha
Lol... I saw one of these sovereign citizen in YouTube saying that he doesn't need driver license because he is not driving commercially. It was a hilarious video. He was stopped by a police and said the same thing and do not consent and they broke the bad window of his car and was arrested. The bottom line is, not one is above the law and not one can ignore the law. If a police officer tell you that you need to stop, stopped, ground the aircraft and leave. Never try to argue or prove that you are smarter than a cop. You will end up locked up.
 
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I retained council.

The prosecutor refused to authorize, so all charges were dropped.

In the interim, the park system drafted into law a new ordinance to regulate drones. This new ordinance is unlawful and unenforceable due to state preemption.

MCL 259.305 which provides, in pertinent part: (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”

It’ll be interesting, but in the end the park
Will rescind their new rule, they will retrain their officers on how to properly ignore UAS pilots, and other citizens will have no issues flying in the park system.
 
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Excellent advice...
And for heavens sake don't try the "I do not consent... I am a sovereign citizen. I was not "flying" a drone I was merely levitating an object as allowed in the constitution." [tongue-in-cheek]

Also... I find that I have had a lot less interference from Joe public [and consequently the police] when I wear my yellow vest, put out the landing pad with cones and an a-frame with "Caution Drone operation in progress... etc" when a curious looker comes by and starts to ask questions I politely tell them I am not allowed to engage in conversation while flying, but would be more than happy to answer any question after I land [ok so little fib... but have never been challenged on it]...

Prior to this approach I have even had people in one instance take shots at it... luckily it was with a rifle - not shotgun. In community meeting that I have been to some have violently threatened to shoot it down... "if you fly that thing over my house I'll shoot the f%^&* thing out of the sky"...

The other day I had occasion to talk to an FAA inspector in Honolulu about another matter, but this "threat" came up... he said that if I had the guys name and number or any other details he would turn it over to the FBI... (he has a case like this now in Honolulu) he said that a threat to shoot down a drone is considered by the FBI to be terroristic threatening as a drone is officially designated an aircraft... and is akin to threatening to shoot down an airliner... [I know, but still]... So now I will inform any other idiot that threatens such with these facts... "The FBI will investigate any threats against drones"

Aloha and looking forward to the outcome of this case... good luck brah.
Asking if you are free to go is a far cry from being a sovereign citizen. Had he said I was not being detained I would have simply walked away.

Chances were excellent that the officer would have said im free to go since there was no reasonable suspicion of a crime.

Ending up in handcuffs was the last thing i expected.

I work in public safety, I’m teaching a part 107 class to officers and firefighters today. I am confident that 99/100 times this scenario would have turned out different. I just happened to run into an officer who’s ego got in the way of logic.
 
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I’m
How do you record audio on an Apple Watch?
An app called “just press record”

It runs in the background, stores the data on your watch as well as your iPhone and it can automatically sync the data to the cloud.
 
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Lol... The bottom line is, not one is above the law and not one can ignore the law. If a police officer tell you that you need to stop, stopped, ground the aircraft and leave. Never try to argue or prove that you are smarter than a cop. You will end up locked up.
I agree that no-one is above the law. In this scenario, the only person breaking the law was the officer. If an officer gives an unlawful order, people should absolutely question it.

The law is crystal clear that the officer is prohibited (shall not) from enforcing any local drone ordinances.

Im not a “sovereign citizen” or whatever you call it but I won the legal challenge and I will be successful in getting the park to change their ordinance and attitude toward unmanned aircraft.

This is civics in action and a great example of what a good citizen should do when faced with a municipality that is knowingly violating the law.

It’s regular people like you and me that need to address these issues.

Drones are a trivial matter. Arresting people without reasonable suspicion or probable cause is a federal civil rights issue.
 
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No real updates to share....a group of enthusiasts and their attorneys are working a few angles....

There is a Genesee County park board meeting coming up the e d of January. We’ve invited reporters to join. I and others plan to speak during public comment time about this issue.

The media shedding light on the parks willful disregard for the state law should be most helpful.

I did find this rediculous video the officers accidentally recorded on my iPad:

 
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