While the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) is still awaiting approvals to use its recently acquired pairs of unmanned aerial vehicles to monitor Southern California, a civilian has been using it almost for a month!
Daniel Saulmon, a 42-year old resident of Torrance, CA, and quite famous for his unusual passion of photographing police activities, has been using his own camera-equipped drone since a month to get an aerial view of his area.
â€œI don’t think it’s a substitute for a hand-held camera, but itâ€™s definitely a complement.Â I have to use common sense with it. Itâ€™s easy to fly. I would have to really go out of my way to be reckless and cause a problem with it,â€ he said.
Saulmon talks about his unusual hobby.
â€œIf thereâ€™s police activity in my area thatâ€™s close by, I generally will go and try to record it and document what I see. I donâ€™t want to say the police donâ€™t supervise themselves, but in a way there might be a little bit of truth to that,â€Â he told a local news networkÂ KTLA.
This video shows how Saulmon uses his drone to keep an eye on police:
He admits openly that he has landed himself in trouble many times for rubbing up police officials the wrong way with his recordings. He has been arrested nearly six times for video-recording the police as of last August, says a post on the website Photography Is Not a Crime.
â€œI donâ€™t care how many times they arrest me, Iâ€™m not going away.Â Iâ€™m going to get as close as I can to see whatâ€™s going on so they will stop violating peopleâ€™s rights,â€ he told the KTLA news channel.
He also maintains that he operates well within the legal constraints as The Federal Aviation Administration has asked hobbyists to keep their drone within sight while roaring in the airspace.
Operating under the alias â€˜Tom Zebra,â€™ Saulmonâ€™s has uploaded more than 300 videos to YouTube, the most recent one being a drone-filmed footage of police in Gardena, CA carrying out a DUI checkpoint.
LAPD has had its own share of controversies and scandalsâ€”be it the Rodney king beating almost two decades ago or the massive manhunt to track the cop killer suspect Christopher Dorner last year, or the harassment of amateur photographers [labeled terrorists by police officials] trying to surveil law enforcement officials.
That explains why Saulmonâ€™s videos are a hit.
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