Police vs law vs drones

Do you argue with police when they wrongfully tell you to leave?


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So basically, I flew down to Hollywood, and wanted to fly my p3s, so I did. Not 2 minutes after takeoff I am approached by a police officer who tells me to land immediately and that "drones are only legal in certain parks in California." [edit: I was not in a park at the time, so what the officer meant was that drones are illegal everywhere except specific parks] I knew that was utter garbage, but not knowing the exact laws in California, I didn't argue and left. After I left I began looking into laws stating that you could only fly drones in parks and there were none. I asked another officer and he said crowds and air traffic may be an issue for flying, but I was far enough from both people and airports as far as the faa is concerned, so I flew anyways despite the idiot police officer telling me I couldn't fly, and no one
Cared, the only other person who talked to me was another phantom pilot, so basically: what Do you think of my situation and how do you handle uneducated law enforcement?
 
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Many many knowledgeable people have said over and over again do not argue law with an ignorant police officer on the side of the road, or in our case, at a park while flying our drone.

Basically the reason is you will almost never win an argument about law and rights on site with a police officer, but you will likely incite his Napoleon authority attitude and get a ticket, a heftier ticket, handcuffed, or hauled off to jail.

BUT!! After your first introduction to such an officer, when you are shaken and not thinking totally straight yet, YOU POLITELY TELL HIM YOU BELIEVE HE IS WRONG, GET HIS NAME, BADGE NUMBER, AND WHICH DEPARTMENT/CITY HE IS FROM. You then go home, research it as you did, and write a nice letter to that jurisdiction's police chief, explaining how his officer so and so was ignorant of the law and that they need education. Then a follow up visit or phone call to that chief to verify he received the letter and will do something about it. If he does not do anything about it, then a letter to the local paper editor about chief neglecting his duties.

The first time is nerve racking, so it is understandable not to get the officer's identification. But after that induction, you are doing a major disservice to all other drone operators to NOT follow up with the police chief in writing.

This is my opinion and how I react to similar situations now.
 
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"drones are only legal in certain parks in California." I knew that was utter garbage
Isn't that true? I don't live in California, so I don't know. But aren't there some parks in California that you can't fly in?

When you say "you flew down to Hollywood," is that a park? If so, is that a city, county, or state park?

SB
 
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Isn't that true? I don't live in California, so I don't know. But aren't there some parks in California that you can't fly in?

When you say "you flew down to Hollywood," is that a park? If so, is that a city, county, or state park?

SB
Hollywood is an area in California, and no, I wasn't in a park, I was down by Venice beach what the officer was saying was you couldn't fly anywhere except specified parks in California, while really it is the exact opposite, there are specific parks where you cannot fly
 
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... Not 2 minutes after takeoff I am approached by a police officer who tells me to land immediately and that "drones are only legal in certain parks in California." I knew that was utter garbage, but not knowing the exact laws in California....
This is true. CA is not a film friendly state in general.

Around the San Francisco area, the East Bay Parks District has banned drones at ALL of its 65 parks, which is about 120,000 acres in two counties.

Smoking, Drones Banned From East Bay Regional Parks

In LA, there is also the rub that drones are seen as likely needing a permit for commercial use much like still photography or filming. That gets expensive with FilmLA which is the permit issuing agency there and may require a multi-million liability policy to even apply. If you get a commercial license, that might be a concern in LA if it goes on record that your are a professional drone pilot with a commercial endorsement. Getting a film permit in CA is a slow enough process as it is (Some US agencies take up to 4 weeks for approval, ime.).

The sales guy at Drone Plus in LA says there are some parks that are RC friendly without the police hassling the public. One was in Van Nuys someplace.

Time will tell...

Mack
 
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This is true. CA is not a film friendly state in general.

Around the San Francisco area, the East Bay Parks District has banned drones at ALL of its 65 parks, which is about 120,000 acres in two counties.

Smoking, Drones Banned From East Bay Regional Parks

In LA, there is also the rub that drones are seen as likely needing a permit for commercial use much like still photography or filming. That gets expensive with FilmLA which is the permit issuing agency there and may require a multi-million liability policy to even apply. If you get a commercial license, that might be a concern in LA if it goes on record that your are a professional drone pilot with a commercial endorsement. Getting a film permit in CA is a slow enough process as it is (Some US agencies take up to 4 weeks for approval, ime.).

The sales guy at Drone Plus in LA says there are some parks that are RC friendly without the police hassling the public. One was in Van Nuys someplace.

Time will tell...

Mack
My wording was poor but I was not in a park when I was flying, and was not flying commercially, and the locals fly from the same place regularly, but the officer was implying that anywhere that was not a park was illegal to fly at, which is not true
 
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I would think arguing with a cop may be fruitless. Even if you are correct and show them they can get pissed. They can make up anything they want to charge you with. Reckless behavior..etc. . ..ok....call another cop. Who do you think he will back up? Not you. They can charge you with just about anything and it's up to you to prove otherwise. It's a club not unlike any other profession where people stick together not caring about your rights.
 
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My recommendation is to check local laws as best you can prior to flying. If an officer tells you flying is illegal and you don't think it is, question the officer. This can be done politely and only seems like a reasonable request. If the office gets defensive and mean than this might be a good sign he/she is making up their own laws and imposing them on people. If the officer is not sure, they can simply call or radio into someone and check. If the officer tells you it's not legal to fly, can't/won't point you to specific information and you feel it is legal, call the local police station and ask for clarification from someone with authority. Get that person's name and contact information.

This is from a year ago but it puts perspective on things:

It's really from media hype. People and even police see drone coverage in the media and make up their own minds about them.

What I also recommend is to print up information on FAA rules and even any local laws you can find. Place them in your flight bag. You may find when you can show that you've done your homework that they might understand you know more about flying then them.
 
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I would think arguing with a cop may be fruitless. Even if you are correct and show them they can get pissed. They can make up anything they want to charge you with. Reckless behavior..etc. . ..ok....call another cop. Who do you think he will back up? Not you. They can charge you with just about anything and it's up to you to prove otherwise. It's a club not unlike any other profession where people stick together not caring about your rights.
I don't disagree but consider this... once you let a few people get away with being a bully and making illegal threats they will think they can just do it whenever they want. If people don't stand up for their rights... they will soon lose them.
 
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I don't disagree but consider thisadvantage nce you let a few people get away with being a bully and making illegal threats they will think they can just do it whenever they want. If people don't stand up for their rights... they will soon lose them.
I agree....you should stand up for your rights. But the stupid system has the advantage. No cop wants to be shot down and look stupid. They can say anything for their actions. Who do you think the higher up will believe? Plus, they can put you through so much hell. The department doesn't want to look bad. Guess what? Screw you and your rights.
 
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There are special rules to fly in the LA/Hollywood area. Always check on regulations in areas you are not fimiliar with. A quick search turned up this...

"The new law in West Hollywood requires civilian drone pilots to register their aircraft with the city, in addition to the registration already required by the FAA. West Hollywood drone operators must place a city-issued permit sticker and identification number on the drone where it can be seen from the ground."

SOURCE: After drone crashes into power lines, West Hollywood cracks down
 
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There are special rules to fly in the LA/Hollywood area. Always check on regulations in areas you are not fimiliar with. A quick search turned up this...

"The new law in West Hollywood requires civilian drone pilots to register their aircraft with the city, in addition to the registration already required by the FAA. West Hollywood drone operators must place a city-issued permit sticker and identification number on the drone where it can be seen from the ground."

SOURCE: After drone crashes into power lines, West Hollywood cracks down
Interesting.

Seems redundant in that the FAA numbers should be preset already and they could get the info off those. This will slow the entire process down so someone out of town on a weekend cannot fly there until they go in and get a sticker in addition to the FAA one which is pretty much online and quick.

Also, no night flying. No flying over city hall, police stations, areas of expected privacy, etc. Wait until FilmLA gets in on the mix and it costs you $625/day to fly with a permit. Kiss off flying in LA.
 
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I agree....you should stand up for your rights. But the stupid system has the advantage. No cop wants to be shot down and look stupid. They can say anything for their actions. Who do you think the higher up will believe? Plus, they can put you through so much hell. The department doesn't want to look bad. Guess what? Screw you and your rights.
True. I've thought about situations such as that. I figure if it seemed to being going that route that the best thing to do it start filming.
 

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I just went to San Diego last week and wanted to take my Phantom to fly out over the water. Not knowing California law, I called and finally spoke with a park ranger that said drones are not allowed at city parks. He was very nice about it and thanked me for asking before just doing it. He said the same thing – that there was a park dedicated just for radio control that was close by but I was not interested.

I know what I can do here in Arizona. But I always air on the side of caution and ask.
 

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Seems redundant in that the FAA numbers should be preset already and they could get the info off those. This will slow the entire process down so someone out of town on a weekend cannot fly there until they go in and get a sticker in addition to the FAA one which is pretty much online and quick..
The FAA Registration # would "currently" require them to spend some extra time and effort to get the registration information linked to it. If the information is on file at the local office it's just a quick phone call to get the information and then contact the offending UAS operator.
 
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This is a fine example of local laws trying to go over Federal laws.....I really hope the FAA starts to clear this up with 107......I also hope this helps even people not flying under 107.
 
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The FAA Registration # would "currently" require them to spend some extra time and effort to get the registration information linked to it. If the information is on file at the local office it's just a quick phone call to get the information and then contact the offending UAS operator.
It should be tied to the FAA number and their computer network. Imagine every driver needing a license from each city they drive into so they could look it up locally. Talk about creating another larger bureaucracy!

Plus, weekend fliers will get no sticker as the local office is probably closed so no flying. It's a bad short-sighted implementation that will result in a boatload of stickers on the drones, plus the city boundaries in LA alone are bad enough as it is. Cross the street and you are in another city with their own rules and laws, so new sticker for them too?

Aside, I don't think 107 is going to do anything either other than create bragging rights and helping out the FBO who may profit from it (i.e. Exams, tests, renewals, etc.) since general aviation has almost dried up along with their income. Claiming commercial drone is not without the issues of dealing with costly permits and insurance for them which will follow and will put one into that expensive quagmire. Been there as a still photographer, and not really worth the approval wait times, paperwork, added costs, local one-day business licenses, coastal commission permit over wet sand/water, local dry land permit, etc. The commercial permit process is a big handout program and everyone gets into the mix for money. Hell, I even got one from a roads dept. saying I had to pay them $1,600 to park my car in one of their paved pullouts (Easement/Encroachment permit.) for three hours where anyone else could park there for $5. No kidding! Mention commercial permit and open your wallet.

Personally, 107 should be some sort of 'allowance' in addition to commercial to fly closer than the 5 mile airport limit with maybe a closer geo-fence to them, maybe 1.5 miles. Maybe allow night flying too where it is banned in some locales.

Mack
 
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I flew in a park that I knew prohibited only, "powered model airplanes and rockets." A park policeman told me I couldn't fly there. I asked what the rule was, he cited me the rule I already knew. I commented that it wasn't an airplane or a rocket, but that I'd leave if he wanted me to. He said, "Just don't fly it when I'm around."

Seemed to work out well. If I'd pushed it, he'd be gunning for me from then on - right or wrong, and they'd probably change the rule.

That was in the summer of 2015, before the hysteria took hold.

BTW... I just checked - they haven't change the rule. If I ever get a ticket, I'll fight it.
 
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I guess it comes back to common courtesy. If I am going to piss folks off, I will find another place to fly. That said, I have had great success showing people what I am doing and inviting them to see what I am viewing on my tablet. As for enforcement officials, they are doing what they think is the right thing. Most likely their day has way too much serious drama than my drone. BTW, CA State Parks are also off limits to drones. It can come down to the individual park ranger. Some are fine with it as long as other guests and animals are not being disturbed.
 
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To get into a 'discussion' with a cop, its best to have all your ducks in a row. 1st have your registration number on your drone. 2nd, have a copy of the registration info printed out and in your wallet. 3rd if you have a 333/COA have that printed out and on you also. Now make sure if you are within 5 miles of an airport you contacted that airport and were not decided access to fly. So at this point you are on some pretty legal standing. So if a cop says you can't fly where you flying you can produce documentation that shows you have complied with all federal regulations, plus to the cop you actually might appear to be "professional". Some cities have local ordinances, some don't. Unless they have worked with the FAA to create 'no fly zones' over certain parks, or buildings, they really do not have the authority to stop you since its the FAA that regulates airspace. They do however have the right to stop your from taking off, flying from or landing on city property which would include streets, sidewalks, and parks. So on face value taking off from your friends house across the street from the park and flying over the park, would not be against the law. Besides being a Drone Pilot Instructor for a University. I am a 2X Emmy nominated film maker, living in Hollywood and working in the TV/Film Industry. Here is where the cop can stop you. Film Permits. You need a film permit to film practically everywhere in Hollywood. So unless you are flying a drone from your own apartment chances are you are in an area where you need a film permit and if you don't have one they can shut you down, fine you, or take you to jail.
 
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