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Crime Technology

Police Recording Confirms NYPD Flew At a Drone and Never Feared Crashing 310

Posted by timothy
from the where-is-your-flightplan? dept.
Jason Koebler (3528235) writes An air traffic control recording confirms that a New York Police Department helicopter flew at a drone hovering near the George Washington Bridge earlier this week—not the other way around. What's more, police had no idea what to charge the drone pilots with, and never appeared to fear a crash with the drone.
Two men were arrested Monday on felony reckless endangerment charges after the NYPD said the two flew their drone "very close" to a law enforcement chopper, causing the police helicopter to take evasive maneuvers. Air traffic control recordings suggest that only happened after the chopper pilot decided to chase the drone.
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Police Recording Confirms NYPD Flew At a Drone and Never Feared Crashing

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    Let's give them MORE taxes and resources to use against us.

    • by itsenrique (846636) on Thursday July 10, 2014 @01:55PM (#47426045)
      Sorry, I'll bite. The problem is that the "anti-tax" people that are elected (and electable in the future) are not against giving more money and power to the police in general. And neither are the "pro-tax" people. This isn't about money. It's about power and authoritarian over-reach. You could take away their choppers and tanks and cut salaries but that wouldn't address the underlying issues. By trying to steer this into a conversation about taxes you fail to see the very real problems with police brutality, corruption, lying, profiling, and on and on. Now, back on topic...
      • by lgw (121541) on Thursday July 10, 2014 @02:20PM (#47426233) Journal

        Government, police, etc will always be corrupt. Always. People are people. The only defense is to give them just barely enough resources to do their job, with no excess or space for overreach. It's all about taxes - taxes are the only practical weapon the common voter has against government overreach, and the Constitution was written with this fundamental truth firmly in mind.

        Of course, of all of Congress there are but a handful of congresscritters who actually are for less government spending, and usually the voter's choice is merely between which group of supporters the tax money will go to. That's a cultural problem in the US, and we can't begin to fix it until every call for lower taxes stops being dismissed with "you anarchist and probable racist, why do you want 0 government".

        Fixing the problem starts with popular acceptance of the idea that one can say we're sending too much without being some extremist calling for the end of government. Less does not mean none - spread the word!

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by SuricouRaven (1897204)

          But the people calling for low taxes are, by and large, far-right nutjobs. They shouldn't have to be, I agree, but it's the big problem with US politics: The two-party, two-faction system forces everyone to ally with one of the extremes. So you can't be just opposed to high taxation - well, you can, but you'll be ignored and excluded. You need to buy the whole package: Low tax, guns for all, no abortion, no gay marriage, climate change is a liberal hoax, wave the flag and God Bless America.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by reboot246 (623534)
            Then the perfect party for you is the Tea Party. Check them out. They're not the right-wing nutjobs you believe them to be. There are plenty of libertarians (and even some Democrats!) to be found among their ranks.
            • by Ksevio (865461)
              There must be a different tea party I haven't heard of, because the ones I've talked to have been full on cut everything/remember bengahzi/obama is killing america
            • You are apparently referring to the Tea Party of 2010. The current self-identified membership seems almost entirely the hard right in the Republican Party.

              Check out the vanishing support for the movement within the ranks of the Republicans [pewresearch.org].

            • They're not the right-wing nutjobs you believe them to be.

              That is, they're no more nutty than the rest of Americans. We're a pretty nutty bunch.

          • by No Tears In The End (452319) on Thursday July 10, 2014 @08:54PM (#47428823)

            Ah yes, the nutjobs slander. Have you ever considered the possibility that the people who believe differently than you have put as much thought as or more thought than you into the issues and simply come to a different conclusion?

            You need to buy the whole package: Low tax, guns for all, no abortion, no gay marriage, climate change is a liberal hoax, wave the flag and God Bless America.

            What you fail to realize, either intentionally or not, is that you're complaining about political coalitions.

            To boil it down to my main issues, I'm pro-life and pro second amendment.

            Low taxes are something that I regard as a "nice to have" but not a requirement. I don't care much about gay "marriage" or flag waving. I don't think that reducing particulate emissions would be the worst thing in the world.

            I support the people who care about those issues because they support me with mine.

            It's not just my side, both sides do it.You don't really think that the upper-middle class white feminists give half a damn about some poor black kid's police brutality claim, do you?

            Before 1992, I would have probably been a Democrat. I wasn't fond of Reagan or Reaganomics. George Bush Sr. was a filthy liar. No new taxes indeed. But in those days, the Democrats made it clear that pro-life, pro second amendment people were not welcome in their party while the Republicans opened their arms and welcomed us in.

            Want to change things? Offer something more substantive than scorn and ridicule. Otherwise, a lot of people like me will have no choice but to vote for whichever John McCain clone gets the GOP nomination in 2016.

            NTITE

        • by Bob9113 (14996) on Thursday July 10, 2014 @04:28PM (#47427267) Homepage

          The only defense is to give them just barely enough resources to do their job, ... It's all about taxes ... there are but a handful of congresscritters who actually are for less government spending,

          Are you unhappy with taxes or with budget allocation? The first and third part above are about budget allocation, which, unfortunately, has very little to do with taxation. The middle part is about taxes, which, unfortunately, have very little to do with budget allocation.

          I favor reducing spending and increasing taxes. That is because I am a fiscal conservative and we are currently running a wildly excessive deficit. I believe in running a balanced budget except during exceptional economic downturns, in which a short-term deficit is fiscally prudent for the long-term outcome, and in times of plenty, when a short term surplus prepares our larder for the next downturn.

          Conflating reductions in spending with reductions in taxation is a premeditated psychological manipulation tactic. There are bad people out there who want to maximize their personal short-term outcome by cranking up the deficit and damn the consequences to the economy. Those people are not helpful to America. Do not fall victim to the false equivalence of taxation and spending.

      • by FrozenToothbrush (3466403) on Thursday July 10, 2014 @02:22PM (#47426255)
        What you're describing takes a fundamental change in the human condition of most people. Money and taxes are an enabler for those who are pro-authoritarian. I don't think the original posters thought should be dismissed so coldly.
  • So (Score:5, Insightful)

    by afidel (530433) on Thursday July 10, 2014 @01:26PM (#47425819)

    So when are reckless endangerment charges going to be filed against the pilot? He intentionally steered his craft towards an object that they admit through their own filings presented a risk of a crash.

    • Re:So (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 10, 2014 @01:38PM (#47425909)

      So... they filed a false report.
        Fire them and press charges. We can't have the police lying on reports.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by roc97007 (608802)

        We can't have the police lying on reports.

        Thanks for that. I needed a good laugh today.

      • So... they filed a false report.

          Fire them and press charges. We can't have the police lying on reports.

        Fuck that. Execute them in the public square.

      • Re:So (Score:4, Insightful)

        by thaylin (555395) on Thursday July 10, 2014 @02:09PM (#47426153)
        More likely they will fire the flight controller for recording them.
        • Re:So (Score:5, Insightful)

          by racermd (314140) on Thursday July 10, 2014 @02:33PM (#47426345)

          The flight controller didn't do any of the recording. The FAA (a *federal* agency, mind you) mandates ALL radio transmissions be recorded. The flight controller's only job is to control traffic. They have zero ability to trigger, delete, modify, etc., recordings. The pilot of every aircraft should know this so it wouldn't be something they'd be all that concerned about. Their supervisors/managers on the ground may not know this, however... And the FAA is quite good about responding to FOIA requests.

          Also, firing a federal employee is actually really hard, even for cause. Usually, they're just given a crappy job with almost nothing to do so they'll feel motivated to quit on their own. Trust me, that's actually a LOT easier than getting firing someone at the federal level. Besides, even the NYPD can't get a federal employee fired since the NYPD is a state-level agency.

          The most likely outcome, in my opinion, is that the NYPD will grudgingly admit their mistake, tell the pair to knock it off in some semi-friendly manner while the cameras are watching, then go back to business-as-usual until they're caught in their own lies again. Meanwhile, we'll all continue to bitch and moan about the "police state" and post ignorant comments in random places on the internet. Heck, I'm doing that right now!

    • by mpe (36238)
      So when are reckless endangerment charges going to be filed against the pilot? He intentionally steered his craft towards an object that they admit through their own filings presented a risk of a crash.

      Was the pilot the only occupant of this aircraft?
      Possibly more important what happens to the two men falsely arrested? Are there procedures to "annull" any record of their arrest?
      • by afidel (530433)

        Who cares if the pilot was the only one onboard, a crash of a full sized helicopter full of fuel is a significant risk to everyone in the vicinity. As to the charges, sure there's expungement (though in some states you can only expunge convictions, not arrests), but unfortunately for these guys they ran to the media so there's a more or less permanent record.

      • by sjames (1099)

        Even if the pilot was the only one on board, he endangered anyone who might have been hit by fragments of the aircraft had there been a collision.

        A helicopter rotor coming apart in flight can throw fragments a long way.

  • by Scutter (18425) on Thursday July 10, 2014 @01:28PM (#47425833) Journal

    Gotta keep those conviction numbers up to justify your DHS endowments. What matter if you destroy a few lives in the process?

  • by Hamsterdan (815291) on Thursday July 10, 2014 @01:29PM (#47425839)

    Just when they say someone fell down the stairs, or resisted arrest. I wonder what the penalty will be for lying...

    • If history is any indicator? Minimum 2 weeks paid vacation, er, "suspension."

      Obviously we all got into the wrong lines of work.

  • by swschrad (312009) on Thursday July 10, 2014 @01:31PM (#47425863) Homepage Journal

    helicopters ride on a LOT of air. the cops could have just gotten over the drone and slapped it down.

    • by PseudoCoder (1642383) on Thursday July 10, 2014 @02:11PM (#47426169)
      I've personally seen how the rotorwash of a helo more than a half mile away turned over a 25 lb aircraft during a design competition fly-off back in my college days in Florida. Damn good pilot from Univ. of Puerto Rico recovered a highly loaded bird from fully inverted and brought it in. I have no doubt that a 5 lb quad-copter would get tossed around like a speck of dust. Either they weren't that close, or the autopilot did a hell of a job keeping the thing upright and under control.
  • by DeathByLlama (2813725) on Thursday July 10, 2014 @01:36PM (#47425901)
    /// Drone hovers lazily next to the river ///
    NYPD: It's coming right for us! *BANG BANG BANG*

    Every drone is an imminent threat.
    • by sjames (1099)

      And the three people across the river who fall down as if shot are just a coincidence.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 10, 2014 @01:39PM (#47425921)

    Sounds to me like the police need to seize those ATC recordings as part of their investigation into this incident. When the police have the evidence in their possession about what happened, then they'll let us know what evidence they want to let us see in accordance to what verdict they want the outcome to have.

    Anything else would be prejudicial and could not be supported as factual evidence from a free world.

    • by mpe (36238)
      Sounds to me like the police need to seize those ATC recordings as part of their investigation into this incident. When the police have the evidence in their possession about what happened, then they'll let us know what evidence they want to let us see in accordance to what verdict they want the outcome to have.

      Presumably soon after doing this NYPD won't be flying anything due to lack of certificates of airwothyness and pilot's licenses.
      Even if they do have jurisdiction over FAA recordings the FAA can qui
  • Have we seen an instance where they have not lied to cover any of their questionable actions in the last decade or so?
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      There's nothing to stop them or even discourage them doing so. In fact procedure often encourages lying to the populace.

      It's getting to the point where lethal force will be a justified response to ANY LEO approaching you, your family or your home. Sure it'll still be completely illegal, but from an ethical and survival standpoint, you're being approached by armored, heavily armed, trained forces hostile to any and all life not wearing a similar uniform.

  • So... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by saleenS281 (859657) on Thursday July 10, 2014 @01:57PM (#47426057) Homepage
    The cops who falsified their reports are going to jail, right? If I am found falsely testifying under oath, that's my sentencing. What? They'll get off with a slap on the wrist and *MAYBE* a week's paid vacation? I wonder why citizens distrust police in this country.
    • If Lloyd Blankfein and others who attested to the veracity of their financial reports even after they were repeatedly warned their mark-to-market was completely unrealistic, which in turn led to the largest financial disaster in over 70 years, are not being prosecuted for false reporting, I don't see why the police should be.

      Especially as in this case no one was harmed. Can't say the same thing about the millions who lost their money or homes, can you?

      • by ClintJCL (264898)
        If being charged with a felony doesn't harm anyone, may I charge you with one? After all, if you're innocent, you have nothing to fear, right?
      • I hope your "no one was harmed" thing was tongue in cheek. First off, for the rest of these gentlemen's lives, a simple search on google will associate their name with the original news stories that may or may not be updated to prove their innocence. But MOST importantly - they were taken into custody and held against their will, after doing nothing wrong. And the police did this KNOWINGLY. Under any other circumstances that would be called kidnapping, and they would have grounds to civil recompense. T
    • by RyoShin (610051)

      Absolutely nothing bad will be done to them; if anything, they'll get commendation medals for bravely charging at a potential terrorist machine. If they were in California, they'd probably be hailed as heroes and had a statue put up in their honor, compared to six cops beating a guy to death, on tape, with audio of them saying things like "Now see these fists? They're going to (expletive) you up" [wikipedia.org] with the two actually brought to trial being acquitted by a jury [foxnews.com]. (A third was scheduled, but after this trial h

  • by Greg Heller (3031971) on Thursday July 10, 2014 @02:22PM (#47426249)
    Filing a false report is a very serious charge as a civilian -- it should be even worse when a couple of cops do it. Lets take a look at this, false arrest, filing false reports, just generally conduct unbecoming, big payout to those falsely arrested.My hat is off to those folks over at the FAA. We can count on the FAA to be honorable and straight shooting, about the only Federal Agency that still cares about doing their job right.
  • by PseudoCoder (1642383) on Thursday July 10, 2014 @02:24PM (#47426267)
    One of the helo officers claims this thing went from 0-2000 ft in 2 seconds. I'll believe that out of a model rocket, or maybe a Diamond Dust with a tuned pipe, but not out of a quadcopter loaded down with a camera. This officer was likely exaggerating what he saw for effect.
  • Wow, NYPD runs ELINT vehicles capable of triangulating radio signals?

  • Jurisdiction (Score:4, Informative)

    by Animats (122034) on Thursday July 10, 2014 @03:25PM (#47426709) Homepage

    I'm listening to the recording of the radio communications. The drone was over 2000' altitude. At first, the cops in the helicopter aren't sure what they're seeing, and they first think it's a fast-moving aircraft in a vertical climb, over the East River. It has red and green lights, like aircraft do. They ask La Guardia ATC radar what they're seeing. ATC isn't seeing it on radar. Then they get closer and see it's a drone of some kind. In a few minutes it's over the George Washington Bridge, miles from the East River.

    Once the guys who were operating them were caught, the cops are on the air discussing what to charge them with. The cops on the ground call them "tiny little toys". There's some discussion of "if it's over 1000', it's reckless". The cops aren't quite sure what to charge them with.

    The FAA can certainly have them prosecuted. They were operating a drone in class B controlled airspace. That's serious, and dumb. Here's the New York City airspace chart. [vfrmap.com] (Yes, there's actually a VFR corridor over the Hudson River; it's permitted to fly along the river at up to 1300' altitude. There used to be one over the East River, too, but after some jock slammed a light plane into a Manhattan apartment building [wikipedia.org] by going too fast there, it was closed to VFR traffic. These drone operators didn't stay in the VFR corridor, and probably had no clue where it was anyway.)

    The drone guys were lucky. LGA has two intersecting runways, 4-22 and 13-31. The one in use depends on wind direction. The approach to 13 and the departure from 31 are over where the drones were operating. LGA happened to be using 4-22 that day. If the other runway had been in use, there would have been a large plane in the area ever 45 seconds or so.

    • Keep in mind though that the turbulence from the helicopter may have pushed the drone over the George Washington Bridge.
      In which case the hazard would be caused by police action.

    • Even under the FAA's proposed new stricter definition, what these guys were flying was NOT a drone. It was a model aircraft.

      Ãoe(1) capable of sustained flight in the atmosphere; (2) flown within visual line of sight of the person operating the aircraft; and (3) flown for hobby or recreational purposes.Ã

      As a model aircraft, it is outside of FAA flight rules. (The FAA published suggested guidelines, but these do not carry any enforcement weight as they are only recommendations.)

  • Sounds about right (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Jeremy Erwin (2054) on Thursday July 10, 2014 @05:12PM (#47427639) Journal

    If you're assaulted by the police, they'll most likely charge you with assault.

  • by Peter Simpson (112887) on Friday July 11, 2014 @06:14AM (#47430095)
    Do these drones keep a log or recording of their flight path? That would be interesting to present at the trial.

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