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Crime Technology

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

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 swschrad ( 312009 ) on Thursday July 10, 2014 @02:31PM (#47425863) Homepage Journal

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

  • Re:So (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Runaway1956 ( 1322357 ) on Thursday July 10, 2014 @02:41PM (#47425931) Homepage Journal

    *sigh* I just wasted moderator points - just posting to negate the effects . . . .

    Since I'm here, I'll point out that cops do the same thing on the ground. They chase you, maybe you're doing 80 or 90, but the cop exceeds 100 mph catching up to you. The police report states that the chase exceeded 100 mph, and the judge looks at that, and throws several books at you.

    It would be great if cops were trustworthy.

  • by cdrudge ( 68377 ) on Thursday July 10, 2014 @02:58PM (#47426067) Homepage

    No drone, or "remotely piloted aircraft" in DoD newspeak, should be flown over a populated area.

    So would flying them over a large body of mostly unoccupied water be ok? Like perhaps a river that's 2/3 of a mile wide?

  • Re:So (Score:5, Interesting)

    by fustakrakich ( 1673220 ) on Thursday July 10, 2014 @03:00PM (#47426073) Journal

    Yet we will not see perjury charges against them. How quaint.

  • Re:So (Score:4, Interesting)

    by roc97007 ( 608802 ) on Thursday July 10, 2014 @03:01PM (#47426075) Journal

    Cops can't drive mosnster trucks over everything just because they are investigating something suspicious.

    Give them time. They seem to be gearing up [] to do just that.

  • Re:So (Score:5, Interesting)

    by rogoshen1 ( 2922505 ) on Thursday July 10, 2014 @03:07PM (#47426143)

    Those small-cities which buy surplus APC's for their 'SWAT' teams beg to differ.

    They're the police, and due to their newly found paramilitary status are better able to keep us safe. Like from your dog. Did you know it was a threat? It is.. or was, that's why they shot and killed it when breaking into your house.

  • Re:So (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 10, 2014 @03:27PM (#47426289)

    FAA, and probably NYPD police procedure, has a lot stricter guidelines with regard to vehicle pursuit regarding helicopters. While somewhat similar, this really is an apples and oranges scenario. Not everyone can fly a helicopter. Or a drone for that matter. Most everyone however, with the minimalist of experience, CAN drive a car.

    That said, we likely won't see any charges going towards the police. Even though it sounds like they filed a false police report. Isn't that perjury? They are officers of the law! Hoping the 2 arrested file suit. LEO overstepping their bounds REALLY need to be put in their place quick and hard. They're in place to serve the public trust. Not the courts, jailers, or DOJ.

  • by Bob9113 ( 14996 ) on Thursday July 10, 2014 @05:28PM (#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.

  • Re:So (Score:5, Interesting)

    by sabri ( 584428 ) on Thursday July 10, 2014 @06:03PM (#47427577)

    Cars on the ground can, with little exception, stop any time they feel like giving up the chase and turning themselves in to the officers. Aircraft have no such ability, and if you were being actively closely pursued by another aircraft it could even prove fatal to try and land. That doesn't even take into account the risks involved to the people on the ground below, who the police in this case endangered by engaging in pursuit -- the correct action would be to have the ATC track the belligerent until it landed, and arrest the pilots there. Following it at high speed, closely, it precisely what FAA regulations were intended to prevent.

    I could not agree more. One addition:

    In the air, pilots have the authority to deviate from every rule in the book, if they deem it necessary for the safety of the flight. This is even stressed out by the FAA themselves in every WINGS seminar on this topic I've attended. Roughly the same authority goes to Air Traffic Control when a pilot declares an emergency.

    Yes, my non-pilot friends, you read that correct. If a pilot declares an emergency, he is the ultimate authority in the sky over what he does, with ATC being his best wingman with broad authority to divert anyone else. That includes everyone with a badge as well.

    Obviously, with authority comes responsibility. Once the flight has ended, the pilot must usually attend a hearing where he (or she) must explain their actions and may even lose their license on it. Every pilot is expected to show good airmenship, and the helicopter pilot pursuing a drone may have been making some judgements that are open for discussion.

  • Re:Jurisdiction (Score:4, Interesting)

    by slimjim8094 ( 941042 ) <> on Thursday July 10, 2014 @10:31PM (#47428965)

    I'm sorry, I'm not usually so harsh, but this is all completely wrong. I'm choosing to believe that you are just completely ignorant of aviation (most people are, I don't hold it against you). But please know the limitations of your knowledge especially when it comes to highly specialized fields with its own rules, customs, language, procedures, etc.

    1) 1/2 mile line of sight is no problem for virtually any radio, not even for you cheap-ass blister pack FRS radios. Hell WiFi would probably work alright.
    2) Nobody said the GWB was 2000 feet in the air. Listen to the radio recording, the guy was cleared for an altitude of 2000 feet (well, at or above, but for his purposes he wanted to be low). The GWB is how he's identifying his position to ATC - it's a VFR waypoint [] and mandatory reporting point for that part of the river. You're interpreting the "near" thing in the strangest way possible, at least in an aviation sense. Later on he mentions being at 800-1000 feet but that was much later.
    3) They said nothing about Mach numbers. The guy thought he was looking at some military aircraft that was rather further away (and larger) than a tiny drone within tens of feet. The perspective information told him that the thing was basically coming from the ground, but it was probably just a few hundred feet below his altitude or less. Such a climb would certainly appear to be extremely fast if you were interpreting it as being some distance away. You know that commercial jets are going like 500 knots at 30,000 feet but they don't look that fast from the ground? Same phenomenon. This is one of a number of sensory illusions in aviation, most of which are more prevalent at night (this was midnight local time). People just aren't very good at dealing with large expanses of 3D in which things can be (almost) arbitrarily positioned - we do better with 2D and ballistics, which makes sense given our background, but isn't particularly useful for flight.
    4) His "measurements" don't seem to be relevant to the arrest so I don't know why them being suspect matters very much. Knowing something is above, below, or at the horizon isn't a measurement - it's looking out the window. And if you're at 2000 feet, that's how you decide something is at 2000 feet. I'll admit that his relative measures are more suspect, as I'd expect them to be at night - but again they don't seem relevant. It's certainly far from evidence that they're deliberately trying to lie to arrest this guy. People fly into mountains [] because of these kinds of sensory illusions, you think they're just screwing with people when they do so? People really are eviscerating this pilot assuming he's their worst impression of a corrupt cop - if he's even a sworn officer, it's probably name only. I'd be surprised if he'd ever cuffed someone in his life.
    5) Everyone seems to be repeating that the police approached the drone. Sorry, where is this coming from? That terrible Vice "article"? It has no citation for this, aside from the accused, and the transcript doesn't support it. Sorry to call you out specifically, since everybody's doing it, but I've seen no evidence of this particular statement. (Aside: it's pretty sad when the NY Post is far more informative than something at least trying to be legitimate.)
    6) Every pilot knows everything is recorded, always. Everything. Always. The radios are recorded. All radar everywhere is recorded. The phones are recorded. If I call to get a damn weather briefing, it's recorded. The idea that they'd be surprised that there's a recording is beyond laughable.

    I agree that this is more a FAA matter than a police matter. The police have no jurisdiction in the air, but that said the perpetrators were not in the air. This is, funnily enough, an area that the FAA is working on clarifying. That said, these guys should be happy that the city cops are the ones they're dealing with - the FAA would be substantially more unpleasant.

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