Drone Documents (Virginia State Police)

Shawn Musgrave filed this request with the Virginia State Police of Virginia.
Est. Completion None
No Responsive Documents


From: Shawn Musgrave

To Whom It May Concern:

Pursuant to Virginia Freedom of Information Act, I hereby request the following records:

All documents created from January 2005 to the date this request is processed related to the agency's use of aerial drones, remotely piloted vehicles (RPVs), remotely piloted aircraft (RPAs), unmanned aerials (UAs), unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), and/or unmanned aerial systems (UASs)(hereinafter “drones”).

Please search specifically for the below document categories, and respond to each of the categories and items:

1) Acquisition documents:

i) requests for proposals (RFPs), proposals/quotes submitted by vendors, contracts, leases, budget requests, project/equipment budgets, cost allocations or reimbursements for the purchase of drone equipment;

ii) Grant applications and award letters for drone equipment purchases;

iii) Insurance contracts for all drone equipment;

iv) Communications (including electronic communications) between the agency head or agency quartermaster (or individual responsible for equipment purchases and maintenance) and drone vendors, manufacturers or retailers;

v) Communications (including electronic communications) between the agency head and agency quartermaster (or individual responsible for equipment purchases and maintenance) regarding acquisition, lease or use of drone equipment;

vi) Communications (including electronic communications) between the agency head and the governor, mayor and city/town manager regarding the acquisition of drones;

vii) Applications (including all components and support documentation) for Certificates of Waiver/Authorization (COA) from the Federal Aviation Administration, as well as COA grant notifications and final agreement;

viii) Contracts for services related to drones, such as data storage, data analysis, image storage, image analysis, video storage, video analysis, operation, maintenance;

2) Equipment logs:

i) Inventories/logs/lists/databases of all drones owned, leased or operated by or for the agency;

ii) Maintenance logs for all drones owned, leased or otherwise operated by or for the agency;

3) Policy documents:

i) Policies, guidelines, protocols, manuals and/or instructions on the use/operation of drones and usage of data, images and video obtained from drone flights;

ii) Communications from the agency head, quartermaster (or individual responsible for overseeing equipment purchases and maintenance) on approved uses for drones;

iii) Memorandums of understanding (MOUs), memorandums of agreement (MOAs) or any other agreements or contracts with other government agencies, private corporations, organizations or individuals to share drone equipment, data, images or video or to operate drones on behalf of the agency;

4) Training documents:

i) Curriculum used to train drone operators and observers;

ii) Training log for all drone operators and observers;

iii) Certifications of training completion for all drone operators and observers;

iv) Contracts, purchase orders, budget requests or reimbursement orders for training sessions for all drone operators and observers;

5) Usage documents:

i) Flight logs for all drone flights, including training flights;

ii) Flight logs transmitted to the Federal Aviation Administration pursuant to Certificate of Waiver/Authorization (COA) requirements;

iii) Reprimands relating to drones, including misuse of equipment and failure to properly maintain equipment.

I also request that, if appropriate, fees be waived as I believe this request is in the public interest. The requested documents will be made available to the general public free of charge as part of the public information service at MuckRock.com, processed by a representative of the news media/press and is made in the process of news gathering and not for commercial usage.

In the event that fees cannot be waived, I would be grateful if you would inform me of the total charges in advance of fulfilling my request. I would prefer the request filled electronically, by e-mail attachment if available or CD-ROM if not.

Thank you in advance for your anticipated cooperation in this matter. I look forward to receiving your response to this request within 5 business days, as the statute requires.


Shawn Musgrave

From: Lambert, Tom

MuckRock News
DEPT MR 7998
PO Box 55819
Boston, MA 02205-5819

Pursuant to § 2.2-3700 of the Code of Virginia, the Virginia General Assembly ensured the people of the Commonwealth ready access to public records. This citizen only access restriction was recently upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in McBurney v Young, 569 US __ (12-17) (April 29, 2013). As a citizen of Massachusetts you are not entitled to records or documents under Virginia FOIA.

With that in mind please be advised that the Virginia State Police has never had any drone aircraft in its inventory and currently has no funding or intent to obtain such craft. Therefore, pursuant to § 2.2-3704, please be advised that the records you are seeking could not be located or do not exist.

The following legislative Act from the 2013 session of the Virginia general Assembly may be of some interest:

An Act to place a moratorium on the use of unmanned aircraft systems.
[H 2012]
Approved April 3, 2013

Be it enacted by the General Assembly of Virginia:

1. § 1. No state or local government department, agency, or instrumentality having jurisdiction over criminal law enforcement or regulatory violations, including but not limited to the Department of State Police, and no department of law enforcement as defined in § 15.2-836 of the Code of Virginia of any county, city, or town shall utilize an unmanned aircraft system before July 1, 2015.
Notwithstanding the prohibition in this section, an unmanned aircraft system may be deployed before July 1, 2015, (i) when an Amber Alert is activated pursuant to § 52-34.3 of the Code of Virginia, (ii) when a Senior Alert is activated pursuant to § 52-34.6 of the Code of Virginia, (iii) when a Blue Alert is activated pursuant to § 52-34.9 of the Code of Virginia, (iv) for the purpose of a search or rescue operation where use of an unmanned aircraft system is determined to be necessary to alleviate an immediate danger to any person, or (v) for training exercises related to such uses. In no case may a weaponized unmanned aircraft system be deployed or its use facilitated by a state or local agency in Virginia.
The prohibitions in this section shall not apply to the Virginia National Guard while utilizing unmanned aircraft systems during training required to maintain readiness for its federal mission, when facilitating training for other United States Department of Defense units, or when such systems are utilized to support the Commonwealth for purposes other than law enforcement, including damage assessment, traffic assessment, flood stages, and wildfire assessment. Nothing herein shall prohibit use of unmanned aircraft systems solely for research and development purposes by institutions of higher education and other research organizations or institutions.

2. That the Department of Criminal Justice Services, in consultation with the Office of the Attorney General and other state agencies, shall develop model protocols for use of unmanned aircraft systems by law-enforcement agencies and shall report such findings to the Governor and the General Assembly on or before November 1, 2013.

In accordance with § 2.2-3704 you may wish to contact the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services to determine if they have any documents, such as model protocols, that may be responsive to your request. http://www.dcjs.virginia.gov/about/contactUs/contact.cfm

I hope this was of some assistance.

From: Shawn Musgrave

Officer Lambert:

I'd like to thank you for your prompt response. I, in turn, would like to remind the Virginia State Police that the citizenship provision in the Commonwealth's public records law is not compulsory -- the SCOTUS decision did not require agencies within Virginia to automatically reject requests from individuals who happen to live outside its borders. Furthermore, as a journalist whose work is read widely across all 50 states, I find your interpretation of the law particularly concerning as a freedom of speech and freedom of the press issue.

That said, I do appreciate the notice that your department does not have any responsive records.

Best regards,


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