The 42-year old is well known by police for his use of a camera and a scanner to document calls in his area, now he’s stepped it up by using his video camera-equipped drone to document the police’s DUI checkpoints and calls to other occurrences in Southern California.
Why do it?
“If there’s police activity in my area that’s close by, I generally will go and try to record it and document what I see,” Saulmon recently told local news network KTLA.
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“I don’t want to say the police don’t supervise themselves, but in a way there might be a little bit of truth to that,” he added.
While it’s easy to understand why the LAPD has little interest in being filmed given the Rodney King incidentg over two decades ago, Saulman films them for just that reason.
His filming of the police over the last four years has given him quite the online following not to mention numerous arrests when he heads out with his camera.
In a recently published profile of Mr. Saulmon in the Los Angeles Times, journalist Joseph Serna reported that his “recordings are well known to South Bay officers.”
His YouTube channel includes over 300 videos that he’s uploaded of the LAPD in action under the alias of “Tom Zebra.” The use of an alias is a bit silly given the well knowngiven name behind the posts.
Using a drone within his rights?
Given that the FAA has simply asked hobbyists to “keep the drone in sight,” it’s hard to imagine he’s doing anything wrong and it would be great fun if some cop shot it down while the video was being downloaded elsewhere when it crashed to the ground.
“My attorney told me there isn’t really much regulation on them,” Saulmon told the Times. “I don’t think it’s a substitute for a hand-held camera, but it’s definitely a complement.”
“I have to use common sense with it,” he added. “It’s easy to fly. I would have to really go out of my way to be reckless and cause a problem with it.”
As of last August, Mr. Saulmon’s recording has had him arrested six times but he continues his work.
“I don’t care how many times they arrest me, I’m not going away,” he said in response to a recent question. “I’m going to get as close as I can to see what’s going on so they will stop violating people’s rights.”
The FAA expects that as many as 7,500 hobbyist drones could be traversing American airspace during the next half-decade.
Keep up the important work, I look forward to your next arrest.