Gizmodo is reporting that the Miami-Dade Police Department used its drone to keep an eye on the multitude of visitors during the controversial Urban Beach Week on Miami Beach during Memorial Day Weekend earlier this year.
But a commenter who goes by acanuelas is not buying it.
1st- Here is a picture of the actual drone that MDPD owns . it is a Honeywell’s RQ-16 T-hawk drone. Not that RC crap that you can see for 2 seconds on this clip.
(Gizmodo/ ANDREW) check your sources, do your home work before posting inaccurate information just for the sake of posting something .
2nd- MDPD will only fly the drone at active shooter situations for the SRT units (Special Response Teams/ equivalent to SWAT) that’s the standard SOP (Standard Operating Procedures) Of MDPD.
3rd- the footage was taken in south beach/ City of miami beach police department has the jurisdiction and responsibility for surveillance/tactical work on the city not miami dade PD.
I am a technical/tactical advisor for several police and law enforcement agencies in the area and i have work on several of these projects active/passive surveillance for these kind of events. 😉
The drone in the video posted on Gizmodo does not appear to be Honeywell’s RQ-16 T-Hawk judging by the photo acanuelas provided as well as the one on Honeywell’s website (pictured below)
And perhaps the Miami-Dade Police Department is restricted by its own Standard Operating Procedures to use the drone in only certain situations, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they wouldn’t break that procedure. Especially if they could get away with the excuse that they were doing it to keep the citizens safe.
It was only last year that a multitude of cops shot and killed a man in a hail of bullets during this same weekend and it was three years earlier that I was one of more than 500 people arrested that weekend when all I did was photograph a cop.
And while it’s true that the footage in the video is from Miami Beach, which has its own police department, it is no secret that more than a million dollars is spent each year to bring in outside agencies to help control (or arrest) the crowds.
The Miami-Dade Police Department, as the largest police department in the county, always maintains a strong presence on Miami Beach during Memorial Day Weekend.
So that’s the weakest out of acanuelas’ three points.
However, pictures rarely lie and the drone in the video appears to have come from one of the many do-it-yourself kits that can be purchased throughout the internet rather than from the Miami-Dade Police Department, which last year became the first police department in the country to receive FAA clearance to use drones.
However, as acanuelas points out, the department is highly restrictive as how it can use them, according to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which obtained the department’s Standard Operating Procedures through a public records request earlier this year.
According to the EFF:
The COA and the other records EFF received show that Miami-Dade’s drone program is quite limited in scope. The two small drones the MDPD is flying—Honeywell T-Hawks—are able to fly up to 10,000 feet high, can record video or still images in daylight or infrared, and can “Hover and stare; [and] follow and zoom,” (pdf) according to the manufacturer. However, the COA limits their use to flights below 300 feet. The drones also must remain within visual line of sight of both a pilot and an observer and can only be flown during the day. They cannot be flown within the Miami city limits or over any high-rise buildings, populated beaches, outdoor assemblies of people, or heavily trafficked roadways (which seems to severely limit their range). Also, the MDPD has stated it doesn’t use the drones to record incidents or store image files and that the drone is set up to “clear the picture upon the next picture being captured.” (It is not clear from MDPD’s records whether the department has another system set up to retain the image files.)
MDPD sent EFF a copy of its “Standard Operating Procedures” for flying the T-Hawks, though these procedures are still in draft form. However, neither they nor the COA discuss any legal restrictions on flights or information collected to protect privacy or civil liberties. MDPD said in a separate email that the department does not require a warrant or any other form of court process prior to flying the drones.
Considering these remote controlled drones can easily be purchased on the internet for just over a thousand dollars, we probably should expect to much more of them hovering around in the near future.
And that will not only raise more awareness regarding expectations of privacy, but also highlight security concerns.
I’m actually surprised we haven’t seen reports of these homemade devices being flown over South Florida’s clothing-optional Haulover Beach to take photos, which might not be a legal issue considering it is public.
Last year the feds arrested a man who they said was plotting to attack the Pentagon and U.S. Capitol using explosives attached to a remote control plane.
Also last year, a couple of geeks unveiled a drone that would allow them to hack into wi-fi and cell phone conversations.
And Youtube is filled with videos of people recording their adventures with homemade drones.
I’m thinking maybe I should build my own drone to protect me next time I’m out recording police in the streets.
Please send stories, tips and videos to firstname.lastname@example.org.
CARLOS MILLER’S LEGAL DEFENSE FUND
I am immersed in a legal case where I not only want to clear my criminal charges stemming from my arrest in January, but I want to sue the Miami-Dade Police Department for deleting my footage, which I was able to recover.
My goal is to set some type of precedent to ensure this does not happen as often as it does today where cops simply get away with it.
So I’ve created an Indiegogo fundraiser in an attempt to raise $3,500 by July 2 in order to prepare for my July 25 trial.
Also, in an unrelated PINAC matter, I recently went through a hair transplant operation and I’m documenting my recovery on this blog if you are interested. I did not pay for this transplant, which is why I’m promoting the doctor through the hair transplant blog.