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University Police encounters while operating under COA

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I'm just trying to get a brief consensus on what type of police contacts (if any) any of my fellow operators have had in the field and whether they appeared warranted or not.

My curiosity stems from contacts with a state University here in Michigan where my customer has required photogrammetry work. The locations in question were in controlled space and required COA to conduct the work and of course those were obtained. The university created a "law" that makes it possible to operate from and over their campus property ONLY IF the part 107 operator submits a request, submits to a skills test at the university and is interviewed by a safety board (a process that would mean multiple trips to this location over the course of multiple months). In the case of these sites, fortunately it was possible to take off from non-university property (municipal owned), control from and land on that same piece of ground without violating any laws/tenets of part 107 operation. During both of the flights at both of these locations I was approached by very kind and respectful officers from the universities public safety department inquiring on my operations. In both instances I furnished them a photocopy of my credentials, a photocopy of the COA and an explanation of who I was working for and what exactly I was doing.

In the first instance, the officer advised me that I could not fly over campus property and I kindly advised him that he was in fact wrong and that his misinformation is not his fault (the university is responsible to train their personnel correctly). I landed, pulled up FAA drone zone and showed him the paragraph addressing this on the FAA's own website. He apologized for his misunderstanding and asked me how much more work I needed to conduct - I advised about 20 mins. He said that if I didn't mind, he'd like to stand there and observe and I welcomed it. When the task was completed and I landed, he said that he wanted to stay so that he could close out the call as having made me land and leave the area. I thanked him for the time to complete my mission and I moved on.

In the second instance, I was midway through my work again and the officer approached asking if I was the operator of the aircraft he was pointing at. I affirmed this and he asked me who I was working for so I advised him of my clients identity and the reason for/type of work I was performing. He pulled out his cell phone, opened up an app and showed my my entire flight path from takeoff to current time and told me that their dispatch sees this real time and sends officers out to investigate. He advised that he is going to close the call out as though I have the requisite permit from the university so that he would not have to force me to land and abandon my work. I thanked him and he explained that the university wants citations issued for first offense and aircraft confiscation, citation and possible arrest for second and follow-on offenses. I advised him that I was glad that he wasn't interested in any of these actions and I pointed out that I had done my due diligence to facilitate this work without violating ANY laws/codes/ethics. He shook his head when he explained that the top of their organization believes they can do anything they want without challenge - even if its not technically within their jurisdiction.

My point in telling these two stories is that I know for certain I am not alone in having unwanted and unwarranted contact as a result of overzealous folks who believe somehow that they can literally make their own rules about whatever they'd like. This is no rant either, I am far from upset by it, but I wonder how the university plans to deal with lawful flights of manned aircraft over their "privately owned airspace" and the like.
 
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I'm just trying to get a brief consensus on what type of police contacts (if any) any of my fellow operators have had in the field and whether they appeared warranted or not.

My curiosity stems from contacts with a state University here in Michigan where my customer has required photogrammetry work. The locations in question were in controlled space and required COA to conduct the work and of course those were obtained. The university created a "law" that makes it possible to operate from and over their campus property ONLY IF the part 107 operator submits a request, submits to a skills test at the university and is interviewed by a safety board (a process that would mean multiple trips to this location over the course of multiple months). In the case of these sites, fortunately it was possible to take off from non-university property (municipal owned), control from and land on that same piece of ground without violating any laws/tenets of part 107 operation. During both of the flights at both of these locations I was approached by very kind and respectful officers from the universities public safety department inquiring on my operations. In both instances I furnished them a photocopy of my credentials, a photocopy of the COA and an explanation of who I was working for and what exactly I was doing.

In the first instance, the officer advised me that I could not fly over campus property and I kindly advised him that he was in fact wrong and that his misinformation is not his fault (the university is responsible to train their personnel correctly). I landed, pulled up FAA drone zone and showed him the paragraph addressing this on the FAA's own website. He apologized for his misunderstanding and asked me how much more work I needed to conduct - I advised about 20 mins. He said that if I didn't mind, he'd like to stand there and observe and I welcomed it. When the task was completed and I landed, he said that he wanted to stay so that he could close out the call as having made me land and leave the area. I thanked him for the time to complete my mission and I moved on.

In the second instance, I was midway through my work again and the officer approached asking if I was the operator of the aircraft he was pointing at. I affirmed this and he asked me who I was working for so I advised him of my clients identity and the reason for/type of work I was performing. He pulled out his cell phone, opened up an app and showed my my entire flight path from takeoff to current time and told me that their dispatch sees this real time and sends officers out to investigate. He advised that he is going to close the call out as though I have the requisite permit from the university so that he would not have to force me to land and abandon my work. I thanked him and he explained that the university wants citations issued for first offense and aircraft confiscation, citation and possible arrest for second and follow-on offenses. I advised him that I was glad that he wasn't interested in any of these actions and I pointed out that I had done my due diligence to facilitate this work without violating ANY laws/codes/ethics. He shook his head when he explained that the top of their organization believes they can do anything they want without challenge - even if its not technically within their jurisdiction.

My point in telling these two stories is that I know for certain I am not alone in having unwanted and unwarranted contact as a result of overzealous folks who believe somehow that they can literally make their own rules about whatever they'd like. This is no rant either, I am far from upset by it, but I wonder how the university plans to deal with lawful flights of manned aircraft over their "privately owned airspace" and the like.
Let me point out there is no such thing as unwarranted contact by Law Enforcement. If you are in a public space, L.E. can make contact with you for any number of reasons, the underline fact is the action after the contact. In most cases the contact was made due to a call from the dispatch center of suspicious/ potential illegal activity.

As far as the University's position on airspace is not uncommon in today's environment, Their positions has no real authority on airspace, but can rule out take off & landings. In cases as such, it would have been appropriate for the client or yourself to make contact with the public safety staff or the university staff aware of the flight to reduce any fear or panic from the student body & staff.
 
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Let me point out there is no such thing as unwarranted contact by Law Enforcement. If you are in a public space, L.E. can make contact with you for any number of reasons, the underline fact is the action after the contact. In most cases the contact was made due to a call from the dispatch center of suspicious/ potential illegal activity.

As far as the University's position on airspace is not uncommon in today's environment, Their positions has no real authority on airspace, but can rule out take off & landings. In cases as such it would have appropriate for the client or yourself to make contact with the public safety staff or the university staff aware of the flight to reduce any fear or panic from the student body & staff.
Recoveryone,

Perhaps I stated my question poorly.

You are absolutely correct that the reason for contact in both of these instances was the dispatch center receiving information via a tracking app that someone was operating a drone aircraft over a part of their campus. What wasn’t passed on to officers in the field was that the aircraft took off from a point beyond the campus boundary and was therefor not violating any enforceable law. In the case of many PD’s in my area, the dispatch center is a contracted company that operates autonomously of the police department itself and isn’t even in the area of the jurisdiction physically.

The two sites this occurred at were utility sites with keyed/gated access and no pedestrian nor vehicle traffic, so there were no students/staff to observe this activity and no bystanders to become concerned (for whatever odd reason people become concerned).

I understand your position that there is no such thing as unwarranted police contact but I choose to disagree as I am a recently retired police officer with 25 years of service. During my time on the job I promoted in rank and eventually had the displeasure of having to educate and discipline my own officers who had contacts that were certainly not warranted and did not meet the criteria of reasonable suspicion. My question about contact being warranted or not is an eye of the beholder situation where I am asking if anyone else has had situations like this occur and if so did they feel there was a communication problem, a lack of training or all out ignorance of the law involved.

Personally, I think that both of these officers that I dealt with were outstanding ambassadors for their department and just woefully undereducated about the laws/ordinances they are tasked with enforcing.

To answer your statement about making contact with the university ahead of time, this was done and then began the long round-robin of directions and unanswered voicemails and emails in an attempt to secure this particular universities “permit”. This was bringing me up against a time frame for work completion, travel expenses and seeking another COA for the airspace. At that point I began to plan my legal operation from grounds not owned or leased by the university and frankly it worked out as I operated within the law and completed the project on time.

I’m well aware of the fact that the university can ban taking off/landing/controlling from property under their dominion of control. I think the crux of the matter in instances like these is that a university (or whomever) will declare a “no drone zone” without realizing that they do not own, nor control the actual airspace. A particular paragraph on the FAA website describes this in plain English and then offers a sign example - but even the sign states “take off and landing”.
 
Thank you for clarifying the situation, with the additional information you provided you took every reasonable/required step concerning all parties. To often, people will post partial information of their encounter leaving out the part where they failed to comply or even escalate the situation themselves.
 
Thank you for clarifying the situation, with the additional information you provided you took every reasonable/required step concerning all parties. To often, people will post partial information of their encounter leaving out the part where they failed to comply or even escalate the situation themselves.
Yeah, I clearly didn't proof read the guts of what I'd written, thanks.
 
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