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www.ucmjinvestigations.com
OK, now for the other side of the fence. I’m a private investigator and have been so for the last 15 years. For 30 years before that I’ve been a city officer, state agent and retired as a fed Special Agent. All total over 45 years in law enforcement. I know it’s the ‘dark side’ but I have loads of clients that pay good bucks for our services relating to fatal traffic accidents, criminal defense work, resource protection and other areas. No, I DO NOT use drones for surveillance work only because of the negative stigma attached and because there are many unscrupulous operators out there that the possible abuses are doing nothing for the people that use drones responsibly. I know other investigators that claim to be hobbyists but I’ve gone through the effort of getting my Part 107. What issues do you see relating to private investigators out there? What potential uses do you see? Please, no barbs about being ‘contra law enforcement’; that’s BS. I fly my thin blue line flag every day.
 
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OK, now for the other side of the fence. I’m a private investigator and have been so for the last 15 years. For 30 years before that I’ve been a city officer, state agent and retired as a fed Special Agent. All total over 45 years in law enforcement. I know it’s the ‘dark side’ but I have loads of clients that pay good bucks for our services relating to fatal traffic accidents, criminal defense work, resource protection and other areas. No, I DO NOT use drones for surveillance work only because of the negative stigma attached and because there are many unscrupulous operators out there that the possible abuses are doing nothing for the people that use drones responsibly. I know other investigators that claim to be hobbyists but I’ve gone through the effort of getting my Part 107. What issues do you see relating to private investigators out there? What potential uses do you see? Please, no barbs about being ‘contra law enforcement’; that’s BS. I fly my thin blue line flag every day.

I nearly went down this road myself in the UK a year ago and decided against it purely as i would of been expected to spy on folk and just could not bring myself to do it.

I think your main issue is protecting the privacy of other people who could be caught up in the footage. If you do use the drone to gather any evidence you will of course have to ensure that nothing is visible beyond your intended target. Do you set your shots up to cut people out or crop it in post? Its your call. If you crop in post and are pulled on the spot by someone who requests to see it then you will have to talk your way out of it as you have no excuse. On that note i would try and keep the footage on target and even restrict the lens to keep the field of view down.

Either way your job means people will come down on you like a tonne of bricks if you infringe their privacy so make sure you have it worked out and good luck.
 
I nearly went down this road myself in the UK a year ago and decided against it purely as i would of been expected to spy on folk and just could not bring myself to do it.

I think your main issue is protecting the privacy of other people who could be caught up in the footage. If you do use the drone to gather any evidence you will of course have to ensure that nothing is visible beyond your intended target. Do you set your shots up to cut people out or crop it in post? Its your call. If you crop in post and are pulled on the spot by someone who requests to see it then you will have to talk your way out of it as you have no excuse. On that note i would try and keep the footage on target and even restrict the lens to keep the field of view down.

Either way your job means people will come down on you like a tonne of bricks if you infringe their privacy so make sure you have it worked out and good luck.
Excellent thoughts but we also run into the issue of tampering or editing what might end up as evidence and therefore be accused of editing out things that May be relevant. It’s a tossup and something will have to figure as we go along. Thank you.
 
Michael J West. I too am a retired LEO officer and for the most part of my career worked in the area of forensic computer investigations, then as a private investigative firm with multiple retired federal agents working primarily fraud investigations. I was thinking traffic investigations, but not so much which you consider multiple issues, like FAA approval, times accidents happen (think night, weather), cooperation with local authorities, (they have their own, or will have), processing images (cloud, mapping) evidence custody issues.

So, right now I don't think there will be much play in drone use for private investigations. If someone comes up with something, I would like to see it. Come to think of it, maybe videoing buildings where an accident happened? I have not done it yet, but want to talk with some attorneys to see what they think. Good luck. If you find something, let us know.
 
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OK, now for the other side of the fence. I’m a private investigator and have been so for the last 15 years. For 30 years before that I’ve been a city officer, state agent and retired as a fed Special Agent. All total over 45 years in law enforcement. I know it’s the ‘dark side’ but I have loads of clients that pay good bucks for our services relating to fatal traffic accidents, criminal defense work, resource protection and other areas. No, I DO NOT use drones for surveillance work only because of the negative stigma attached and because there are many unscrupulous operators out there that the possible abuses are doing nothing for the people that use drones responsibly. I know other investigators that claim to be hobbyists but I’ve gone through the effort of getting my Part 107. What issues do you see relating to private investigators out there? What potential uses do you see? Please, no barbs about being ‘contra law enforcement’; that’s BS. I fly my thin blue line flag every day.

Pretty much the same as public agencies. Some folks do not like drones. It pretty much depends on the privacy laws of your state, and federal, doesn't it?
Since you hold a 107, IMHO you have a duty to report 107 violators to the FAA, even though they don't do much...
.
 
Pretty much the same as public agencies. Some folks do not like drones. It pretty much depends on the privacy laws of your state, and federal, doesn't it?
Since you hold a 107, IMHO you have a duty to report 107 violators to the FAA, even though they don't do much...
.
I 'somewhat' agree. As a citizen (regardless of whether I hold a 107 or not) WE ALL have obligations to report violations of the LAW. Let's not be selective about who has responsibility. All of us have that responsibility. BUT: your point is well taken. Thanks.
 
Excellent thoughts but we also run into the issue of tampering or editing what might end up as evidence and therefore be accused of editing out things that May be relevant. It’s a tossup and something will have to figure as we go along. Thank you.
You hit the nail on the head! Digital photos can be problematic when used in civil suits if "the opposition" can raise any doubt about the integrity of the process by which the images are recorded or stored As digital photography began to come into vogue, years ago, law enforcement agencies had to develop procedures supported by documentation to demonstrate that the digital data was not altered (processed) in any way between the time it was originally recorded and the time it was committed to print. That meant securing the media immediately after recording in some way that permitted a demonstrable chain of custody. Needless to say, cropping or editing in any way was an absolute no-no. In the end, it's the integrity (objectivity) of the presenter of the evidence that would be at issue, but the PROCESS is a big part of that.
 
In the state of Maine where I currently reside, the only state law(s) I can find (aside from State Parks which is implemented by Federal Law) regarding the use of drones (and aside from the FAA statutes of course) is that all law enforcement agencies must obtain a bench search warrant before using UAVs for conducting surveillance in pursuit of criminal or civil illegal activity.

Shocking?
 
Why shocking?

I used to live in NYC. I'm surprised you can actually purchase a drone there let alone fly one (with out prior authorization). The restrictions are suffocating (and I think that's probably a good thing in mid-town manhattan).

In other states, there are many regs, laws (and some phantom regs and laws) that restrict sUAV usage. As my state has very few persons and populated areas in it, I suppose the mandates fit the situation, but I still find myself double checking to make sure I understand where, when etc. I can film/fly.
 
I see. Here in AZ local cities thought they could go apesh*t with ordinances restricting drone flights until the Legislature adopted a very reasonable statute in 2016 within which political subdivisions are prohibited from adopting any drone laws that conflict with state law, and made existing ones null and void.:p Under some cities' ordinances enacted before the state law, commercial UAV operations were dead.
 
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I see. Here in AZ local cities thought they could go apesh*t with ordinances restricting drone flights until the Legislature adopted a very reasonable statute in 2016 within which political subdivisions are prohibited from adopting any drone laws that conflict with state law, and made existing ones null and void.:p Under some cities' ordinances enacted before the state law, commercial UAV operations were dead.
Thanks for the info. I wasn’t aware of that. Can’t believe the legislature actually got something right.
 
I live in a remote area close to Yosemite Park, I'm friends with our local sheriff and know the regular CHP officer and we have talked extensively about using drones for various aspects of their jobs. They have resisted using drones until the FAA developed regulations as we now have and are continually changing.
I did a demo for both of them how I could overfly a home that is very remote. I over flew the property at 350 feet and there was an person working in back of the home and he didn't seem to know that I was there.
Afterwards they both agreed it is a tool they would love to use.
We have a lot of meth labs and that sort of thing up here and I think for anyone in law enforcement or private work it is a fantastic tool.
Even if you can't use the videos or photos in court, the ability to quietly ease drop must have a value.
Good luck in your work.
 
I live in a remote area close to Yosemite Park, I'm friends with our local sheriff and know the regular CHP officer and we have talked extensively about using drones for various aspects of their jobs. They have resisted using drones until the FAA developed regulations as we now have and are continually changing.
I did a demo for both of them how I could overfly a home that is very remote. I over flew the property at 350 feet and there was an person working in back of the home and he didn't seem to know that I was there.
Afterwards they both agreed it is a tool they would love to use.
We have a lot of meth labs and that sort of thing up here and I think for anyone in law enforcement or private work it is a fantastic tool.
Even if you can't use the videos or photos in court, the ability to quietly ease drop must have a value.
Good luck in your work.
I am a retired cop and a volunteer chief pilot for an AZ PD, public safety agencies here have begun to embrace the concept. We even have a police drone operators group meeting regularly to exchange ideas. Takes time to introduce new concepts in government agencies, the $$ issue is always up front.
 

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