POLICE used drones to spy on sunbathers at a lakeside beach to see if anyone was breaking the law by going nude or topless.
The police reportedly used the surveillance technique at Twin Lake, near Minneapolis, Minnesota, after receiving complaints from the public about scantily clad beachgoers.
The cops said they only used the drones after receiving complaints about beach-goers[/caption]
Cops said the drone footage is legal because the beach is a public place[/caption]
The city of Golden Valley confirmed that the recording occurred on July 10, and that officers were only recording the beach because of complaints and a history of illegal behavior in the area.
“For decades, police response to the unauthorized beach has been based on complaints by local residents and park patrons,” a statement posted to the city’s website says.
“The beach has been the location of sexual assaults and other sexual activities, a substance-related drowning, and accident resulting in paralysis, and drunk driving and narcotics arrest,” the statement says.
The beach has reportedly been the location of criminal activity in the past[/caption]
People on the beach accused officers of targeting people of color[/caption]
“Regarding this latest incident, police were responding to complaints about illegal beach behavior and encountered illegal consumption of alcohol and nudity.”
The secluded area, however, is apparently known to locals as being a spot where people can feel comfortable baring all – if they want.
“It’s really well known for being a safe place to just be comfortable,” frequent beach-goer Elsie Olin told CBS Minnesota.
But Police Sgt. Randy Mahlen told the network that since the beach is a public place, however secluded it may be, drone footage of beach goers is “no different than a surveillance camera in a public place for a high-crime area.”
Mahlen said that the department had received more than a dozen complaints during this beach season of people being nude, drinking alcohol or doing drugs at the beach.
He said the drone recordings came only after officers spent a few weeks educating beach-goers about the rules at Twin Lake.
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Some of the people at the beach reportedly said that the officers were singling out people of color to take down their information after the drone surveillance.
But Mahlen said the officers were planning to take down the information of several people who had been caught either topless or nude. However, they changed their plans after the crowd started getting hostile.
“We made the choice that things were only escalating and we chose to leave,” he said.