Police Chief

Ask the Chief

“Ask The Chief” is a weekly post allowing readers access to useful information about law enforcement issues in the city of Red Wing. This communication tool has been developed to enhance our community policing efforts by providing residents and visitors with the opportunity to ask questions about local laws, programs, and the Department in general.

Submit your question to askthe.policechief@ci.red-wing.mn.us. 

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Dec 23

December 16, 2019 - Drones in Red Wing

Posted on December 23, 2019 at 2:18 PM by Kate Berg

December 16, 2019

Ask the Chief

Q: What are the laws covering drones? My neighbor woke up one morning at 5am last week and saw one flying outside her window. What could it have been doing? Is there a way to find out who owns it? Have there been any reports of them being used as "surveillance" tools?

Image of a flying white drone in front of a partly cloudy sky with with words "Drones in Red Wing

A: Thank you for your question.  Drone recreational use has increased over the years and may be on some Christmas lists this year! The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) maintains primary control of airspace and drone operations. Recreational drones must be registered with the FAA and their registration number displayed on the drone. If flying within five miles of an airport, the drone pilot must let the airport know--this can be accomplished by going to the Red Wing Airport website and following the instructions provided (online form available). Drones are restricted from operating over Nuclear Plants and Correctional Facilities (including the Goodhue County Adult Detention Center). Recreational drones should not be flown over crowds or large groups of people. For more information and registration, go to www.faa.gov/uas.

Regarding your friend's situation, this possibly could be a violation of Minnesota Statute 609.746, Interference with Privacy.  In this situation, or whenever you believe a drone is being operated in an unsafe/questionable manner, please contact either 911 or the non-emergency number 651-385-3155 to file a police report. Also, depending on how close the drone is, try to obtain the registration number on the drone to allow officers to locate the registered owner.

The November 25, 2019, Ask the Chief also discussed taking photos and videos in public, which would apply to observation/recording devices on the drone. Previous Ask the Chief articles can be located on the Police page of the City's website.


1. Federal Aviation Administration – Recreational Unmanned Aircraft Systems, located online at: https://www.faa.gov/uas/recreational_fliers/

2. City of Red Wing Airport, Drone Flying Information and Notification, located online at: https://www.red-wing.org/403/UAS-Drone-Flying-Information-Notificatio

3. Minnesota State Statute 609.746 Interference with Privacy, located online at: https://www.revisor.mn.gov/statutes/cite/609.746

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