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Thread: Complications for trespass law. Police Secrecy Behind Unmanned Aircraft Test

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    http://www.click2houston.com/investi...66/detail.html

    WALLER COUNTY, Texas --

    Houston police started testing unmanned aircraft and the event was shrouded in secrecy, but it was captured on tape by Local 2 Investigates.

    Neighbors in rural Waller County said they thought a top-secret military venture was under way among the farmland and ranches, some 70 miles northwest of Houston. KPRC Local 2 Investigates had four hidden cameras aimed at a row of mysterious black trucks. Satellite dishes and a swirling radar added to the neighbors' suspense.

    Then, cameras were rolling as an unmanned aircraft was launched into the sky and operated by remote control. Houston police cars were surrounding the land with a roadblock in place to check each of the dignitaries arriving for the invitation-only event. The invitation spelled out, "NO MEDIA ALLOWED."

    HPD Chief Harold Hurtt attended, along with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and dozens of officers from various police agencies in the Houston area. Few of the guests would comment as they left the test site.

    News Chopper 2 had a Local 2 Investigates team following the aircraft for more than one hour as it circled overhead. Its wings spanned 10 feet and it circled at an altitude of 1,500 feet. Operators from a private firm called Insitu, Inc. manned remote controls from inside the fleet of black trucks as the guests watched a live feed from the high-powered camera aboard the 40-pound aircraft.

    "I wasn't ready to publicize this," Executive Assistant Police Chief Martha Montalvo said. She and other department leaders hastily organized a news conference when they realized Local 2 Investigates had captured the entire event on camera.

    "We still haven't even decided how we were going to go forward on this task, so it seemed premature to me to announce this to the media," Montalvo said. "But since, obviously, the media found out about it, then I don't see any reason why just not go forward with what we have so far.

    "Montalvo told reporters the unmanned aircraft would be used for "mobility" or traffic issues, evacuations during storms, homeland security, search and rescue, and also "tactical." She admitted that could include covert police actions and she said she was not ruling out someday using the drones for writing traffic tickets.

    A large number of the officers at the test site were assigned to the department's ticket-writing Radar Task Force. Capt. Tom Runyan insisted they were only there to provide "site security," even though KPRC cameras spotted those officers heavily participating in the test flight.

    Houston police contacted KPRC from the test site, claiming the entire airspace was restricted by the Federal Aviation Administration. Police even threatened action from the FAA if the Local 2 helicopter remained in the area. However, KPRC reported it had already checked with the FAA on numerous occasions and found no flight restrictions around the site, a point conceded by Montalvo.

    HPD leaders said they would address privacy and unlawful search questions later.

    South Texas College of Law professor Rocky Rhodes, who teaches the constitution and privacy issues, said, "One issue is going to be law enforcement using this and when, by using these drones, are they conducting a search in which they'd need probable cause or a warrant. If the drones are being used to get into private spaces and be able to view where the government cannot otherwise go, and to collect information that would not otherwise be able to collect, that's concerning to me.

    "HPD Assistant Chief Vickie King said of the unmanned aircraft, "It's interesting that privacy doesn't occur or searches aren't an issue when you have a helicopter pilot over you and it would not be used in airspace other than what our helicopters are used in already."

    She admitted that police helicopters are not equipped with cameras nearly as powerful as the unmanned aircraft, but she downplayed any privacy concerns, saying news helicopters have powerful cameras as well.

    HPD stressed it is working with the FAA on reviewing the technical specifications, the airworthiness and hazards of flying unmanned aircraft in an urban setting. Future test flights are planned.

    The price tag for an unmanned aircraft ranges from $30,000 to $1 million each and HPD is hoping to begin law enforcement from the air by June of 2008 with these new aircraft.

    If you have a news tip or question for KPRC Local 2 Investigates, drop them an e-mail or call their tipline at (713) 223-TIPS (8477).
    Either we are equal or not. Good people ought to be armed where they will, with wits and guns and the truth. LAB/NRA/GOP *******

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    Words fail me.

    The attempted sneakiness, the reply about the news having powerful cameras, and the false FAA threats are enough to advocate the Chief's early retirement.
    I'll make you an offer: I will argue and fight for all of your rights, if you will do the same for me. That is the only way freedom can work. We have to respect all rights, all the time--and strive to win the rights of the other guy as much as for ourselves.

    If I am equal to another, how can I legitimately govern him without his express individual consent?

    There is no human being on earth I hate so much I would actually vote to inflict government upon him.

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    Did the British take over? Sounds like something awfully nanny-state to do.

    On a lighter note, try OCing one of these?


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    imperialism2024 wrote:
    SNIP On a lighter note, try OCing one of these?
    I have. They kept getting tangled in my seat belt.

    I'll make you an offer: I will argue and fight for all of your rights, if you will do the same for me. That is the only way freedom can work. We have to respect all rights, all the time--and strive to win the rights of the other guy as much as for ourselves.

    If I am equal to another, how can I legitimately govern him without his express individual consent?

    There is no human being on earth I hate so much I would actually vote to inflict government upon him.

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    Citizen wrote:
    Words fail me.

    The attempted sneakiness, the reply about the news having powerful cameras, and the false FAA threats are enough to advocate the Chief's early retirement.
    Indeed.

    If it be that these gizmos are to be used for the benign purposes indicated by this Chief of Police, then WHY the furtive secrecy surrounding the testing of them?

    One also notes with distaste that Taser are trying out small flying saucers that can zap folks from overhead! Truly Orwellian!

    Maybe Imp has the right idea, and folks need to consider playing a modified form of Skeet Shooting with the bloody things!

    TrueBrit.





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    "Covert police actions"? "No media allowed"? Homeland Security pogues hanging around? BS about news helicopters?

    Secret police, anyone?

    Sometimes the sheepdog and the wolf are the same animal.

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    Tomahawk wrote:
    Sometimes the sheepdog and the wolf are the same animal.
    Amen!
    Bob Owens @ Bearing Arms (paraphrased): "These people aren't against violence; they're very much in favor of violence. They're against armed resistance."

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    TrueBrit wrote:
    One also notes with distaste that Taser are trying out small flying saucers that can zap folks from overhead! Truly Orwellian!

    Maybe Imp has the right idea, and folks need to consider playing a modified form of Skeet Shooting with the bloody things!

    TrueBrit.



    I think we need a new shotgun load and a new "superchoke" to counter these new tyrannical threats.

    Call themthe liberty choke and the freedom load.

    It could be a lot of fun. For practiceyou could tow a target behind a radio controlled model airplane and shoot at the target.
    He wore his gun outside his pants for all the honest world to see. Pancho & Lefty

    The millions of people, armed in the holy cause of liberty, and in such a country as that which we possess, are invincible by any force which our enemy can send against us....There is no retreat but in submission and slavery! ...The war is inevitable–and let it come! I repeat it, Sir, let it come …………. PATRICK HENRY speech 1776

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    As I was growing up there was a 10 ga. behind the back door.

    See 'Air rights' http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Air_rights:
    Air rights are a type of development right in real estate. Generally speaking, owning or renting land or a building gives one the right to use and develop the empty space above the property. Those rights are air rights. Supposedly, this legal concept is based on an ancient Latin saying: Cuius est solum, ejus est usque ad caelum et ad inferos ("To whoever owns the land, shall belong the earth to its center and up to the heavens.").[1]
    From my study of trespass law. If a device is used to violate my privacy with evil intent then what law will protect it? Don't fear the instrumentality but fear the evil man wielding it.

    Either we are equal or we are not. Good people ought to be armed where they will, with wits and guns and the truth. LAB/NRA/GOP *******

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    Federal law has restricted numerous property rights including air rights. It was a discussed minor issue with the advent of commercial radio as the waves techinically permeate air space owned by the fee title holder of the real property. But given that it was non-tangible thing, ie radio waves, it wasn't much of a big deal. With the advent of the aviation industry though this became a real issue. It was obviously not practical for every pilot or airline to get an easement from every owner of every piece of real estate they flew over. Part of what the FAA did was take away an amount of control of the air space owned by real estate owners - in other words they told the citizens to BOHICA because we weren't using that air space anyway. Later NASA would essentially remove the "to the heavens" provision of common law ownership rights.

    The only place one typically sees or hears about air (or natural light) rights is in cities where air (and light) easements are granted or deed restrictions are made due to tall buildings, billboards and the like blocking light and air from smaller buildings. There has been some expansion of this in other regions over the last decade or so due to solar panels and wind-power stations.

    Now what does that have to do with the current issue? Probably nothing. The FAA is involved and the FAA has the ability to supercede air rights for aviation purposes which is what I am sure they are doing here. This is will be in the same category of aviation as police helicopters which can fly anywhere pretty much except for FAA or military restricted air space, AFAIK.
    Bob Owens @ Bearing Arms (paraphrased): "These people aren't against violence; they're very much in favor of violence. They're against armed resistance."

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    deepdiver wrote:
    Later NASA would essentially remove the "to the heavens" provision of common law ownership rights.
    Just a note: It wasn't NASA, it was Eisenhower's strategy to set aninternational law precedent by not accusing the USSR of violating US airspace when Sputnik was launched. While Sputnik seemed to be a loss for US prestige, it was a good thing as far as Ike was concerned, because as long as he did not contest the overflight of spacecraft at orbital altitudes, the precedent was set to allow the U.S. to dominate space for strategic purposes in the years to come, with no real protest from any other nation.

    Sorry for off-topic...

    Orbital altitude is at least 1 hundred miles high. That's certainly not the same as talking about a drone hovering around your bedroom window, which I think we can all agree is pretty unreasonable and a violation of expectation of privacy.



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    And all I can think about now is bouncing golf balls shot off a Yugo SKS against that thing. Hmmm.... Mr. Spy Drone, meet Mr. Golf Ball.:P Probably wouldn't have the range or power to do anything unless the drone was REAL CLOSE.


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    When I made the original post in this thread, I thought about and started to mention the 10 ga. that was behind the backdoor while I was growing up. I wonder what is the diameter of a golfball and of 10 ga. (or what gauge would accept a golfball).

    Why's it called 'golf'? 'Cause all the other four letter words were used already.
    What's it called in Japanese? 'Golf', because all the other four letter words were used.

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    Doug Huffman wrote:
    When I made the original post in this thread, I thought about and started to mention the 10 ga. that was behind the backdoor while I was growing up. I wonder what is the diameter of a golfball and of 10 ga. (or what gauge would accept a golfball).

    Why's it called 'golf'? 'Cause all the other four letter words were used already.
    What's it called in Japanese? 'Golf', because all the other four letter words were used.
    Sorry, Doug, the old 10 ga. won't take a golf ball, much to my dismay!

    The nominal interior measurement of a 12 ga. barrel is .729 inches, and a 10 ga. would not be much larger, maybe .860 tops?

    To accept a golf ball of maybe 1 3/4 inches, we are talking wildfowling PUNT GUNS, or the Yugo toy of which our comrade sv libertarian writes!

    Nonetheless, although I have only fired English No.1 shotshells(American BBs, I think) through such a weapon,a 10 ga. shotshellmay, of course, be loaded with a BIG OL' SLUG or heavy buckshot......

    Great thought, anyway!

    TrueBrit.

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    I thought that I had calculated 12 ga. at 0.71 inches from first principles. Tomorrow when I am not distracted by our snow storm and my adult beverage, maybe I'll calculate 10 ga. I haven't the foggiest idea of a golfball's diameter.

    While we were out at dinner and our community theater, it snowed six-ish inches and we are driving a VW Jetta with very little clearance. We got home(!) and couldn't make it up the driveway to the garage so the car is at the foot of the drive and I have had an adult beverage. Getting home on un-plowed rural roads was more excitement than I needed.

    I am surprised that none of the claque-clique has found eVil intent in associating golfballs, shotguns and snooping aircraft. What maroons!

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    Wait! I got it! THIS is why "they" want to ban .50 BMG rifles! A person could take a Barret and maybe with lots of practice and shooting a .50 at arial targets, some skill, luck and more money to waste on practice shots, might bring one of these things down!

    I can just see the guys at a .50 Shooting club, all lined up with their big rifles, someone yells "Pull" and a buncha .50's start going off at a UAV!!!:celebrate:celebrate:celebrate

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    It's called the "open field doctrine." There are many Supreme court cases about this. A LEO is permitted to look for crime in a private place as long as he is in a public place. The air space is public. I can't recall the SP case where a cop got a tip that a guy was growing pot in his back yard. The back yard had a 10 foot high fence a 6 foot high fence with thick bushes in between. The cop could not see in from a public place. Since the cop could not see in, no probable cause. So the cop hired a pilot and plane and flew over and saw the pot and took pictures. Bingo, search warrant.

    Though the back yard may have been an extension of his home (curtilage) the person did not take the proper steps to keep the private part of his property private.

    That's why you draw your drapes on your windows so no one can see in. This also goes to the "in plain view doctrine." You let the cop in the door and he sees contriband and he arrests you. The cop did not need a warrant. You let him in.

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    sv_libertarian wrote:
    Wait! I got it! THIS is why "they" want to ban .50 BMG rifles! A person could take a Barret and maybe with lots of practice and shooting a .50 at arial targets, some skill, luck and more money to waste on practice shots, might bring one of these things down!

    I can just see the guys at a .50 Shooting club, all lined up with their big rifles, someone yells "Pull" and a buncha .50's start going off at a UAV!!!:celebrate:celebrate:celebrate
    But why .50 BMG, wouldn't .17 centerfire be capable? And it's a lot more controllable for more holes on target.

    Looking to the math of 'firing a gun in airliner', any particular shot has a random probability of causing significant damage.

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    color of law wrote:
    It's called the "open field doctrine."
    There is a good bit of discussion here, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Expectation_of_privacy , including this gem:
    Under this “new” analysis of the Fourth Amendment, privacy expectations deemed unreasonable by society cannot be validated by any steps taken by the defendant to shield the area from view.
    ETA: So much for the cops' conspirators to try to achieve secrecy - 'privacy' - for the test in the original post.

    God save us from infringements deemed reasonable by society. In my opinion, the rule of law differentiates from the rule of man (society).

    Either we are equal or we are not. Good people ought to be armed where they will, with wits and guns and the truth. LAB/NRA/GOP *******

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    color of law wrote:
    The air space is public.
    I wuz just chatting with a neighbor whose air space is being taken for our airport expansion by right of eminent domain - and she says that she is being paid for it.

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    And all I can think about now is bouncing golf balls shot off a Yugo SKS against that thing. Hmmm.... Mr. Spy Drone, meet Mr. Golf Ball.:P Probably wouldn't have the range or power to do anything unless the drone was REAL CLOSE.
    There was a Monster Garage episode which involved a Porshein which the objective was to createa not only a vehicleto police up the golf balls, but launch them back at the golfers via air cannon.

    I'm betting the sks is even better than the AR, which can launch a golf ball hundreds of yards with standard blanks (not the cheesyparade blanks)...




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