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Love/hate relationship with the 'hood...

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Hey doods!

So I was commissioned to do a traffic analysis shoot on Tuesday of this week. This is 2 hours of shooting in the morning and 3 hours in the evening. The way I choose my locations is I always park on public roads (so I can't be kicked out), and in the summer, I try to park in the shadow of a large tree.

1567870372986.png


Naturally, this means the morning location is usually slightly different than the evening location.

Tuesday morning I set up all my gear near a park in the shadow of a large tree. The shoot was uneventful. A Sheriff DID pull up and ask what I was doing. I told him, he nodded and moved on.

1567868265860.png


The evening shoot, however, was different. I shoot 3:00 PM - 6:00 PM in the evening. I had relocated to an area that was evening-shade-friendly, which was in front of a residence.

1567870429900.png

Around 5:00 an older couple in their mid to late 60's pulled into their driveway. The lady was driving. She gets out of the truck and says to me, "I had to come home because the neighborhood association told me that there was a stranger in front of my house." I said, "Well...I've been here for 2 hours. I'm doing traffic analysis. You're welcome to come see what I'm doing." They both sort of scoffed and went into their home. Whatever.

10 minutes later their garage door opened and the old man did a piss-poor job of pretending to mill around the garage. CLEARLY, he was keeping an eye on me. Honestly, I didn't mind.

Coincidentally, at that very moment, the sky was starting to fill with clouds and was actually raining just N.E. of my location.

1567868619123.png

I had about an hour of shooting to do, so I just kept shooting. Anyone who knows anything about the high desert knows that just before the rain comes, there's wind...LOTS of wind. Sure enough, around 5:15 PM, with my bird in the air, I got hit with a blast of wind and dust right in my face. Fortunately, my paper work is held fast to my hatchback struts courtesy a few neodymium magnets. And my iPads are well-protected from Sun and rain, and my RC can be scooted under the hatchback to keep it dry and out of the Sun. It's a good set up. 32-36 MPG donchaknow! 4WD donchaknow!

1567869089087.png


I put my freshly-launched bird in ATTI mode to test the wind. She drifted toward me @ 25 mph. Time to call it a day. As I'm bringing her in, giant rain drops hit me and my car. I'm not super worried because I know my bird will be safe in my car in a few seconds.

I land quickly and stuff the drone in my car. I grab the RC and stuff it, too. I was about to close the hatchback when 4 police cars surrounded me...almost like a SWAT team. Clearly, the old couple had called the police. Fortunately, the heavy rain had moved on, and it was only slightly sprinkling when all 4 Sheriffs got out of their SUV's and approached me. The usual questions, "What are you doing here?" I explained that I was doing traffic analysis. I make it a habit to record my flights on my iPad so that I can show curious on-lookers what I'm doing without having to fire up the bird. For my first flight I show the map view so they can see where I'm parked in space, and then I show the camera view so that they can see I'm shooting traffic. I hit play and the cops watch. I say, "Pretty boring, actually." The taller blonde cop says, "Is this all you're shooting?" I reply, "Yep." I try to give as much information as possible withOUT them having to ask, so I continue to explain, "I'm shooting traffic patterns on Alameda Blvd. I fly for 4 minutes and land for 11. I shoot a 2 hour block in the morning and 3 hours in the evening. But, as you can see, I just got rained out." The other cop asks who I'm working for. I tell him and point to some business cards stuck in my charger inside my car. I offer to get a business card for him and he says, "Hold on!" I freeze. He says, "I'm going to pat you down." I say, "Okay." He asks, "Do you have any weapons on you? Anything that can hurt me?" I reply, "No."

As he's patting me down, he asks a series of questions.

Cop: What's this?
Me: USB drives.
Cop: What's this?
Me: A flashlight.
Cop: What's in your back pockets here?
Me: Money...licence...business cards.

He finishes up. They ask a few more questions, and finally concludes that I'm harmless.

I point to the house and say, "I offered to show them everything I was doing. I was very friendly." The cops just nodded. I tell them, "I'm done for the evening. If you guys don't need anything, I'm going to head out. I should warn you that I will probably be back here tomorrow or Thursday to finish up. I'll try not to park in front of this house." Again, they nodded.

Fast forward to Thursday. I have 4 shots left at the same location, which is 5:13 PM - 6:02 PM...4 minutes up, 11 minutes down. I park about 20' Northwest of my original location. I circled the house of the mean people.

1567870561956.png

I no sooner get set up and a 30-something guy named JJ approaches me from the house across the street. He has two large dogs with him (unleashed). The dogs bark and run toward me, but I don't flinch. He yells from across the street, "The dogs are friendly!" I reply, "Yeah...I can see that. Nice dogs." I have time, so I make nice with the dogs.

JJ asks, "So what are you doing." I explain the whole traffic analysis thing to him. He says, "Kewl. I work for our new hockey team, the Isotopes." We jabber-jaw for a bit and then he says, "It sure is hot. You want some water?" I replied, "Yeah...that would be nice." He comes out with a cup of ice water, a cup of ice and a Pepsi.

1567870922221.png

He says, "I have to go, but good luck." I reply thanx.

A few minutes later I launch my bird and who pulls up but the mean, old couple. They look at me. I tilt my cup and smile. They scoff and go in their mean old people house.

It's just funny the stark contrast between these two people who live right across the street from one another, but have probably never spoken a word to each other.

Fast forward to the next night (Friday), and me and my girlfriend are grabbing some Chick-fil-a and who is sitting at the table across from us but 2 of the 4 cops that had patted me down the Tuesday before. I introduce them to my girlfriend and jokingly say, "This is the SWAT team that patted me down the other night." We all laughed...good times...

Keeping it real in the neighborhood...

D
 
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Hey doods!

So I was commissioned to do a traffic analysis shoot on Tuesday of this week. This is 2 hours of shooting in the morning and 3 hours in the evening. The way I choose my locations is I always park on public roads (so I can't be kicked out), and in the summer, I try to park in the shadow of a large tree.

View attachment 26536


Naturally, this means the morning location is usually slightly different than the evening location.

Tuesday morning I set up all my gear near a park in the shadow of a large tree. The shoot was uneventful. A Sheriff DID pull up and ask what I was doing. I told him, he nodded and moved on.

View attachment 26533


The evening shoot, however, was different. I shoot 3:00 PM - 6:00 PM in the evening. I had relocated to an area that was evening-shade-friendly, which was in front of a residence.

View attachment 26537

Around 5:00 an older couple in their mid to late 60's pulled into their driveway. The lady was driving. She gets out of the truck and says to me, "I had to come home because the neighborhood association told me that there was a stranger in front of my house." I said, "Well...I've been here for 2 hours. I'm doing traffic analysis. You're welcome to come see what I'm doing." They both sort of scoffed and went into their home. Whatever.

10 minutes later their garage door opened and the old man did a piss-poor job of pretending to mill around the garage. CLEARLY, he was keeping an eye on me. Honestly, I didn't mind.

Coincidentally, at that very moment, the sky was starting to fill with clouds and was actually raining just N.E. of my location.

View attachment 26534

I had about an hour of shooting to do, so I just kept shooting. Anyone who knows anything about the high desert knows that just before the rain comes, there's wind...LOTS of wind. Sure enough, around 5:15 PM, with my bird in the air, I got hit with a blast of wind and dust right in my face. Fortunately, my paper work is held fast to my hatchback struts courtesy a few neodymium magnets. And my iPads are well-protected from Sun and rain, and my RC can be scooted under the hatchback to keep it dry and out of the Sun. It's a good set up. 32-36 MPG donchaknow! 4WD donchaknow!

View attachment 26535


I put my freshly-launched bird in ATTI mode to test the wind. She drifted toward me @ 25 mph. Time to call it a day. As I'm bringing her in, giant rain drops hit me and my car. I'm not super worried because I know my bird will be safe in my car in a few seconds.

I land quickly and stuff the drone in my car. I grab the RC and stuff it, too. I was about to close the hatchback when 4 police cars surrounded me...almost like a SWAT team. Clearly, the old couple had called the police. Fortunately, the heavy rain had moved on, and it was only slightly sprinkling when all 4 Sheriffs got out of their SUV's and approached me. The usual questions, "What are you doing here?" I explained that I was doing traffic analysis. I make it a habit to record my flights on my iPad so that I can show curious on-lookers what I'm doing without having to fire up the bird. For my first flight I show the map view so they can see where I'm parked in space, and then I show the camera view so that they can see I'm shooting traffic. I hit play and the cops watch. I say, "Pretty boring, actually." The taller blonde cop says, "Is this all you're shooting?" I reply, "Yep." I try to give as much information as possible withOUT them having to ask, so I continue to explain, "I'm shooting traffic patterns on Alameda Blvd. I fly for 4 minutes and land for 11. I shoot a 2 hour block in the morning and 3 hours in the evening. But, as you can see, I just got rained out." The other cop asks who I'm working for. I tell him and point to some business cards stuck in my charger inside my car. I offer to get a business card for him and he says, "Hold on!" I freeze. He says, "I'm going to pat you down." I say, "Okay." He asks, "Do you have any weapons on you? Anything that can hurt me?" I reply, "No."

As he's patting me down, he asks a series of questions.

Cop: What's this?
Me: USB drives.
Cop: What's this?
Me: A flashlight.
Cop: What's in your back pockets here?
Me: Money...licence...business cards.

He finishes up. They ask a few more questions, and finally concludes that I'm harmless.

I point to the house and say, "I offered to show them everything I was doing. I was very friendly." The cops just nodded. I tell them, "I'm done for the evening. If you guys don't need anything, I'm going to head out. I should warn you that I will probably be back here tomorrow or Thursday to finish up. I'll try not to park in front of this house." Again, they nodded.

Fast forward to Thursday. I have 4 shots left at the same location, which is 5:13 PM - 6:02 PM...4 minutes up, 11 minutes down. I park about 20' Northwest of my original location. I circled the house of the mean people.

View attachment 26538

I no sooner get set up and a 30-something guy named JJ approaches me from the house across the street. He has two large dogs with him (unleashed). The dogs bark and run toward me, but I don't flinch. He yells from across the street, "The dogs are friendly!" I reply, "Yeah...I can see that. Nice dogs." I have time, so I make nice with the dogs.

JJ asks, "So what are you doing." I explain the whole traffic analysis thing to him. He says, "Kewl. I work for our new hockey team, the Isotopes." We jabber-jaw for a bit and then he says, "It sure is hot. You want some water?" I replied, "Yeah...that would be nice." He comes out with a cup of ice water, a cup of ice and a Pepsi.

View attachment 26539

He says, "I have to go, but good luck." I reply thanx.

A few minutes later I launch my bird and who pulls up but the mean, old couple. They look at me. I tilt my cup and smile. They scoff and go in their mean old people house.

It's just funny the stark contrast between these two people who live right across the street from one another, but have probably never spoken a word to each other.

Fast forward to the next night (Friday), and me and my girlfriend are grabbing some Chick-fil-a and who is sitting at the table across from us but 2 of the 4 cops that had patted me down the Tuesday before. I introduce them to my girlfriend and jokingly say, "This is the SWAT team that patted me down the other night." We all laughed...good times...

Keeping it real in the neighborhood...

D
Good story! Thanks for sharing!
 
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Great story. Do you think wearing one of those goofy vests would have helped?

What is the window/car mount you're using for your large iPad attached to the hatch?
 
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Great story. Do you think wearing one of those goofy vests would have helped?
I call mine the "dork vest." And, yes, I was wearing it. The dork vest makes me "invisible" (cleverly hidden in plain sight) MOST of the time. But clearly it didn't work this time.




What is the window/car mount you're using for your large iPad attached to the hatch?
RAM. They're spendy, but it's a quality unit. The suction cup, arm and "X-Grip" are about 100 bux. You don't need the X-Grip. There are cheaper alternatives. But because I own several iPads and tablets, I wanted the versatility of the X-Grip and the ability to remove the iPad quickly without fuss.

The version in the photo is for the 12.9 Air Pro Gen 3. I just took delivery on a second setup for my 10.9" iPad (the clock). So that will be hanging, as well.

D
 
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I would contact the District Attorney's Office and see what I could do about getting those bad cops reprimanded, or at least get them educated as to what a person's rights are. Letting them harass you for no reason like that and being nice about it besides is not necessary. I would've informed them that interfering with someone operating an aircraft is a federal felony, let them arrest me, and have my day(s) in court. It's why I record everything, every time I fly near a city. The next drone pilot they encounter will be expected to submit to gestapo intimidation tactics or be shut down until someone educated them as to what their rights as police officers are and what your rights are as a citizen.

*edit* ok, maybe in real life I wouldn't make them arrest me on trumped up charges (but maybe I would.) It's wha tI like to think I'd do. The point is, letting people trample your rights doesn't feel good. It's not something to be respected though is understandable. I think deep down it's largely why you've posted about the incident. Taking action, stopping future harassment, and in particular for yourself, feels better. You can take action in a very civil way to stop others from being harassed. Most likely the local cops are just clueless as to the law and are accustomed to trampling on people's rights every day.
 
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I would make a FOIA request for the 911 call as well as any dash or body cam footage as well as the report.

Basically you were patted down without RAS of a crime. Next time park in the same spot and tell the homeowner they had a chance to be nice and now they can go @#$% off. be vigilant has become "everybody is guilty".

Also, letter your vehicle.... I had a vehicle lettered for my commercial photography business..... Never got a ticket for parking....... The more you look like you belong and not a electronic pedophile the better.
 
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I would make a FOIA request for the 911 call as well as any dash or body cam footage as well as the report.

Basically you were patted down without RAS of a crime. Next time park in the same spot and tell the homeowner they had a chance to be nice and now they can go @#$% off. be vigilant has become "everybody is guilty".
While I understand your angst, it honestly didn't both me that much, AND this is the first time in 6 or 7 years of operation that I have been patted down. This is one of those "choose your battles" situations. I can let this one slide. It was honestly no skin off my back. And to be honest, seeing that couple again two days later and tipping my glass of Pepsi to them was my nice way of saying "F*** you."



Also, letter your vehicle.... I had a vehicle lettered for my commercial photography business..... Never got a ticket for parking.......
Letter it? With my business license number?



The more you look like you belong and not a electronic pedophile the better.
Touche'. But honestly, I don't mind someone asking questions. I honestly get where they are coming from. And 99% of the time, people are nice. I try to come off with a very positive attitude. I'm willing to give them MORE information than they ask for. This way they don't feel like I'm purposely being evasive.

A few years ago a concerned citizen with kids in his back yard came out to question me. I was happy to show him everything I was doing. Why wouldn't I? I have nothing to hide. I'm not doing anything illegal, immoral or unlawful. He turned out to be very nice and more interested in my Mavic 2 than anything.

Honestly, donning the dork vest makes me look "official enough" that people generally leave me alone. This was literally the first time I've ever been patted down (for flying my drone, anyway....<:^0). It'll probably be years before it happens again.

D
 
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I would contact the District Attorney's Office and see what I could do about getting those bad cops reprimanded, or at least get them educated as to what a person's rights are.
While technically you are correct in saying that they probably stepped on my rights, I honestly feel like most cops are stuck between a rock and a hard place. Truth be told, the whole time I was thinking, "What if this were a worst case scenario, and I really WAS up to no good and were fully armed and ready to kill???" These guys have to approach every situation with that possibility. So rather than sympathize with MY situation, I sympathize with theirs.




Letting them harass you for no reason like that and being nice about it besides is not necessary.
I didn't feel harassed. They asked me what I was doing, and then wanted to be sure that I wasn't armed in arguably one of the most crime-ridden cities in the Southwest. So they patted me down. Riding a Harley my entire life, I've been patted down before. It honestly doesn't bother me.



I would've informed them that interfering with someone operating an aircraft is a federal felony, let them arrest me, and have my day(s) in court.
I get your anger...I really do. But you're talking about a lot of time, energy and effort, which I have to roll into my invoice. I can either charge the customer for my hours and effort, or I can eat it. If this were a chronic problem, I most certainly would take that route. But this was a one-time thing. I've been approached by police before. This was literally the first time I had been searched.

1568984460669.png


It's why I record everything, every time I fly near a city.
I actually have a GoPro camera that I have used to record my aerial jobs before. I've been kind of lazy about setting it up and using it, mostly because for traffic gigs I shoot hours at a time, so I would have to run power to the GoPro, which is a bit of a hassle. It honestly would've been kind of kewl to have the entire thing on video. I may go back to recording my jobs again. That's not a bad idea.



The next drone pilot they encounter will be expected to submit to gestapo intimidation tactics or be shut down until someone educated them as to what their rights as police officers are and what your rights are as a citizen.
I disagree. I find your use of the term "gestapo" erroneous. The cops were very nice. I imagine the next drone operator they encounter, they will hearken back to "that guy with the funny haircut" who was nice and cooperative.

I imagine that you probably envision them yelling at me, "Hands up!!! On your knees!!!! Hands behind your head!!! On the ground!!!" It was nothing like that. They approached me cautiously, but courteously. I returned the courtesy.

I've seen enough YouTube videos to know what side my bread is buttered on. Despite the political rhetoric du jour, the common denominator for these police shootings seems to be NON-cooperating suspects. I prefer to cooperate and live to talk about it the next day....<;^)



*edit* ok, maybe in real life I wouldn't make them arrest me on trumped up charges (but maybe I would.)
Dollars to doughnuts, if you were in my shoes at that time, you probably would've done the same thing.

Also consider that NOT finishing the job = NO paycheck. That said, timing was such that Mother Nature had shut me down anyway. But had she not, my *primary objective* would've been to finish that job WHILE interacting with the officers. I can either act in a way that makes them want to sympathize with my objective, cooperate with me and allow me to continue working WHILE they question me, OR I can act in a way that makes them want to arrest me....<:^/




It's wha tI like to think I'd do. The point is, letting people trample your rights doesn't feel good.
Sure. But making someone's job tougher doesn't feel good, either.



It's not something to be respected though is understandable. I think deep down it's largely why you've posted about the incident. Taking action, stopping future harassment, and in particular for yourself, feels better. You can take action in a very civil way to stop others from being harassed. Most likely the local cops are just clueless as to the law and are accustomed to trampling on people's rights every day.
You absolutely bet your bottom dollar that I DO have a line in the sand that they had better not cross. While I'm a nice guy, I also have anger management issues. Had they not returned the courtesy, you can bet I would've hit the "record" button on that drone sitting in the back of my car and would've pursued a full lawsuit. But they didn't even come close to that line.

D
 
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There appears to be a quote error on the above post...??????
 
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I call mine the "dork vest." And, yes, I was wearing it. The dork vest makes me "invisible" (cleverly hidden in plain sight) MOST of the time. But clearly it didn't work this time.






RAM. They're spendy, but it's a quality unit. The suction cup, arm and "X-Grip" are about 100 bux. You don't need the X-Grip. There are cheaper alternatives. But because I own several iPads and tablets, I wanted the versatility of the X-Grip and the ability to remove the iPad quickly without fuss.

The version in the photo is for the 12.9 Air Pro Gen 3. I just took delivery on a second setup for my 10.9" iPad (the clock). So that will be hanging, as well.

D
thanks Donnie Frank. I've ordered laptop mounts from RAM before. It's been a decade since I last ordered from them. I'll check it out.

I've used a dork vest for the last 2 missions I've flown. Previously I didn't bother but your post made me think otherwise.
 
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thanks Donnie Frank. I've ordered laptop mounts from RAM before. It's been a decade since I last ordered from them. I'll check it out.
This is my first time purchasing RAM products. I chose them because my business partner's $80,000 LIDAR unit shipped with RAM hardware. So I made the assumption they were a quality company. Sure enough, I'm not disappointed. They're made with pride in the U.S.A., donchaknow...


I've used a dork vest for the last 2 missions I've flown. Previously I didn't bother but your post made me think otherwise.
I did an experiment where I flew right in front of a crowded 7/11 with the dork vest. After over 2 hours of flying, not a single person disturbed me.

D
 
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