Politico’s breaking news of the United States Navy drafting new guidelines for the reporting of “unidentified aircraft” (UFOs, come on Navy, just say it!) was welcomed with celebratory cheers by UFO community. Surprisingly, the story wasn’t just carried by the slithering shares of rogue news outlets on social media. Instead, jubilation of the Navy’s about-face stance on UFOs was shouted from the rooftops by virtually every major and minor media outlet in existence.
To be clear, this was “real news.”
Combing through the original Politico article with a discerning eye, I suddenly realized - stating the intention to change protocols for reporting unknown aircraft - was likely the second most important piece of information being shared by the Navy. Rather, the most incredible aspect journalist Bryan Bender captured came from the quote by a Navy spokesperson:
Clearing the iridescence semantics of one trained in providing public releases, what the Navy is really saying here is:
“On numerous occasions “unauthorized” or “unidentified” aerial craft have successfully penetrated and eluded the most technologically sophisticated military in the world. Basically, ladies and gentlemen, the Navy just wants to go ahead and admit, UFOs are real!”
Personally, based on the above statements, I feel like it’s not just the celebratory cheers of long-time believers we should be hearing right now. Instead, maybe we should be hearing the unmistakable clicking of keys on a keyboard as rapid fire volleys of verbally violent debate rage over what’s the acceptable definition of “disclosure.”
At a minimum, many people who’d never put much thought into the topic UFOs, suddenly found themselves asking friends and coworkers, “Hey, what do you think about the whole Navy UFO thing?”
What UFOs really represent is a whole other topic of discussion; and by no means does the Navy’s implication of a UFO reality suggest these represent the high-tech workings of a visiting extraterrestrial species. However, the whole part about “something” rebelling and refusing to be identified by world’s most cutting-edge defense technologies should make even the most skeptical among us stop and pause.
Remarkably, two and a half days after Politico reported the Navy was drafting new guidelines, the Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Information Warfare clarified in a statement to John Greenewald of The Black Vault the draft guidelines for reporting UFOs had been completed, and now revised reporting measures had been sent to the fleet.
For those who‘re unfamiliar with the typically sluggish process of government, the remarkable transition from “in draft” to “submitted to the fleet” is the equivalent of the Navy navigating the swamps of American bureaucracy with their own anti-gravity spaceship.
In all fairness, eight-days later, on May 1st, the Navy tried to dump people’s dreams of “disclosure” down the latrine when it clarified, “We’ll be collecting info. But that doesn’t mean the public’s going to see it.” Nevertheless, for those who believe UFOs are a subject worth pursuing, the Navy’s reality check shouldn’t be considered too disheartening. Instead, it’s important to remember, in a round about way the Navy publicly stated– UFOs ARE REAL.
Unpacking the totality of the Navy’s announcement, I began to consider are there other domains where the UFO subject should be destigmatized and reporting of anomalous sightings encouraged? Clearly, there are four other branches of the U.S. military besides the Navy. Each of which absolutely should take stake in formally acknowledging the seriousness of unidentified aircraft sightings by their service members. Maybe some more than others… cough, cough, the Air Force, cough…
Outside of the obvious appendages of the Department of Defense, is there another vocation that should be encouraged to follow the Navy’s lead? Indeed, I believe there is, one that could potentially bring very valuable data to the table in helping scratch off the “un” in “unidentified.”
Why Standards for Reporting UFOs Should be Implemented in America’s Police Forces.
With an estimated 1 million sworn police officers filling the federal, state, and local ranks of the law enforcement profession in America, it's inarguable that the police profession is the largest group of trained observers continuously operating 24-hours a day, 365 days a year. Considering the profession as a collective, there simply is no comparison when it comes to having the means, opportunity, and ability to both make UFO observations and record sighting accounts of others.
Clearly, I wouldn’t expect nor advocate the American police forces becoming a massive army of UFO investigators. However, equally destigmatizing and encouraging the formalized reporting of UFO sightings by law enforcement agencies could result in an invaluable conduit of data on the phenomena.
Here’s a breakdown of some of the reasons why:
Admittedly, the phrase “A few bad apples” lingers around the police profession for a reason. However, as a greater whole, the bulk of police officers represent individuals of high moral character, who’ve likely had to take a psychological exam and passed a background check before they ever pinned on a badge and gun. Add to these prerequisites, police officers are keenly aware that knowingly providing false information in an official report, at best, will result in the end of their career. At worst, will likely result in being charged with a crime.
The precedent of there being consequences for reporting false information isn’t just contained to the officers who submit them. Likewise, anyone who calls 911 and files a police report can be held criminally liable for.
It’s one thing to hoax a sighting report to MUFON or the news media. It’s a whole new ball game to do the same with a law enforcement officer.
All this considered, official police reports can be easily be considered some of the most highly credible witness accounts available.
Of course, it’s not just the veracity of information police record that are advantageous to any serious study of UFOs. Equally, as beneficial are the opportunities and abilities inherent to the job.
When it comes to recording the specifics of a UFO sighting; it’s formally trained and reinforced to police officers that fine details can make or break a case. After time, documenting fine details become second nature to the seasoned cop. In fact, back when I was a patrol Sergeant task with checking my shift officers’ reports, there were more instances when I had to recommend unnecessary details be removed, then there were me having to encourage officers to add more.
When it comes to dictating a report for criminal prosecution, knowing the person you arrested used exactly 3 sprays of Versace Pour Homme cologne before they started their day could be a tad superfluous. However, a propensity to observe and record minute details of a UFO sighting is something that could be widely beneficial to helping form an understanding.
With that said, it’s not just a police officer’s ability to narrate events that could be beneficial to the study of UFOs.
A 2013 study by the Department of Justice found that 25% of police agencies used body-worn camera devices. Given social unrest and demand for more police transparency/accountability in the six years after the DOJ’s study was published, it’s reasonable to estimate the number of officers wearing body cameras today has expanded to somewhere around 50% to 70%.
if it isn’t body cameras; add to the mix smart phones and vehicle mounted camera systems, its reasonably safe to say every cop on the beat has some form of camera capability at their fingertips. Needless to say, being out and about on the American streets 24-hours a day with a camera handy, tremendously increases the likelihood of a police officer being able to capture photographic evidence of a UFO.
Lest we forget, if an officer responds to a reported UFO sighting happens to fall in that estimated 50% - 70% wearing body-worn cameras, what results is the ability to capture, on audio and video, an eye witness account of a UFO sighting, in most instances very shortly after its occurred.
For organizations, such as The Mutual UFO Network (MUFON), who investigate UFO sightings, the ability for law enforcement capture an audio and video recording of a witness’s statement’s minutes after a sighting has occurred is incredibly invaluable.
What separates a successful officer, from what my Uncle would call a “tent peg” (basically serves a purpose in holding down a tent, but in a pinch, you can do without it and use a rock), is how well an officer becomes familiar with patterns of information in the area they work. By the nature of the job, the primary patterns of familiarity involve human activity on the ground. However, by being immersed in an environment this can equally include the activity up above.
The last six years before retirement, I was the night shift Lieutenant for my agency - working from 3pm to 3am. Surrounding my jurisdictional bubble was Fort Stewart, Hunter Army Airfield, the Georgia Air National Guard’s 165th Airlift Wing, Gulf Stream Aerospace, and the Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport. Roughly 100 miles south was Naval Nuclear Submarine Base Kings Bay; and less than 30 miles north was Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort.
With years of operating during the hours most smart people are sleeping and surrounded by military institutions or airports, I began to learn all of the normal flight paths and lanes that conventional aircraft in the area traveled. With Hunter Army Airfield being home to the 3rd Battalion, 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment, during those long nights patrolling the mean streets, I frequently saw some pretty unique stuff in the sky. One notable sighting being of a U.S. Marine K-Max unmanned drone helicopter flying a mere few hundred feet over me one clear sunny afternoon.
Outside of odd robot helicopters, there were plenty of times I saw lights or aircraft in the early morning skies I couldn’t identify. In some instances, I saw aerial objects that behaved or resembled unconventional aircraft. However, in each of these instances, though I couldn’t identify what I was seeing, I always knew it was “ours” because I knew the flight patterns of the environment around me.
Whether explicit or implicit, police officers being familiar with the patterns of activity in their environment could allow them to quickly access the likelihood of a prosaic explanation for their own sightings or eyewitness accounts.
Fundamentally, American law enforcement agencies are the sworn domestic defenders of the U.S. Constitution, and enforcers of state laws and/or city/county ordinances- against all enemies foreign and domestic. As such, when it comes to why law enforcement agencies should be encouraged to not be dismissive of sighting reports, it comes down to the fact that it’s indisputably part of their job.
Setting aside all of the hokey “little green men” stigma that’s plagued serious inquiry into UFOs; unidentified aerial vehicles or systems operating in sovereign airspace ARE a matter of national security!
So long as these sightings remain unidentified, these could be terrestrial aircraft being operated by foreign antagonist of the United States, just as much as they could be extraterrestrial tourists. Essentially, for the exact same reasons the Navy justifies their new policy position, American law enforcement agencies should equally amend their stance on reporting UFOs.
Now, I’ll stop here, but honestly there’s plenty more reasons why cops are prime, if not the best sources for consistent reliable, and organic data on UFOs. However, regrettably, as much as this may be true, when it comes to inspiring change in reporting anomalous aerial sightings in the law enforcement profession – this could be a very daunting hill to climb.
Problems with Getting Law Enforcement on Board with Reporting UFOs
Considering it’s been almost 50 years since the official December 17, 1969 closure of Project Blue Book, it’s hard to say the Navy’s formal change in attitude on reporting UFO sightings has been a quick, easy path. With that said, the comparable road to inspiring change within the ranks of America’s police forces could be likened to taking a peaceful stroll down the Jalalabad Highway in Afghanistan.
Unlike the Navy, or Department of Defense, there’s no broad stroke method of implementing new guidelines to America’s roughly 18,000 independent police agencies. Obviously, there are defined laws and regulations that have to be enforced or followed by all police departments. However, each individual state, county, or municipal police agency, operates largely like its own fiefdom in the manner they go about reporting or investigating incidents.
There simply is no overarching mechanism to get all police agencies on the same page when it comes to documenting something, even as it relates to something that inherently a state or federal crime.
Another problem with getting police agencies to become better data collectors on UFO sightings relates to how law enforcement reports are categorized. The principle system the drives any uniformity in police reporting stems from the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) program.
Through the UCR program the FBI collects, analyzes, and distributes crime data from individual police agencies. When you hear that Virginia Beach is the safest metro city with a violent crime rating of 1.38, or comparably St. Louis is the most dangerous with a rating of 20.82; these numbers are derived from the FBI’s UCR program.
The FBI UCR program is far from flawless, as participation by agencies is voluntary and cities have significant incentive to manipulate the data to make their city appear safer than it really is. When it comes to giving the total picture of police activity, another problem with the FBI UCR Program is, between two major groups (Part I and Part II offenses), only 25 different crime categories are collected.
Now, I can say with absolute certainty, there are some documented police reported UFO sightings scattered out among police agencies. Indeed, during my career, I can recall instances were officers with my agency were called to reported sightings of UFOs. However, it should come as no surprise, there is no FBI UCR category that would specifically relate to sightings of unknown aerial observations. Instead, any of these reports, de facto possible hidden gems of UFO data, are lumped into broad “miscellaneous” reporting categories, right alongside “cat stuck in a tree” or the “cables out.”
In order to really be effective in using the police to join in the efforts of collecting UFO data, there would have to be some push to make agencies label reported sightings in a manner that would allow for easy referencing. Ultimately, encouraging separate classification represents the summit of that arduous journey to getting police agencies involved with reporting UFO sightings. Sadly, unlike the Department of Defense, or a branch of the military, there is no broad strokes method to achieve this.
Nevertheless, as difficult as it may be, there are some ways the public can get police agencies to follow the U.S. Navy’s lead.
What can be done…
First, for the same reason “We the People” are the first three words in the preamble of the U.S. constitution, as communal entities of a democratic republic, people can influence how their local – city, state, and county - government services operate through lobbying of elected leadership. Essentially, a city’s elected governing body can very easily require their local police agency to report and categorize UFO sightings.
Trust me! I’ve seen elected leaders ask cops to do things that are far less crazy than taking reports on UFOs.
Although, likely a tougher nut to crack, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) – the agency ultimately responsible for the law and administration of justice in America – can “politely” encourage police agencies to change their UFO reporting guidelines. Again, even though they clearly can be matters of national security, UFOs are not inherently a crime, therefore the DOJ cannot force local and state agencies to report UFOs.
A more reasonable entity that could influence police UFO reporting would be appealing to the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP). The IACP is the largest and most influential association for police leaders, as such, they wield significant power over what is considered acceptable practices in policing. Narrowing the scope in the same vein, each state has their own state “Chief’s of Police” association, who likewise influence practices of police within their state.
Lastly, the easiest and most immediate way to “change” UFO reporting guidelines within the police profession, can come down to individual officers being willing to take sighting reports, and in turn share this information with serious research and investigative organizations such as MUFON.
In the end, as was shown in my obtaining the “Bob Lazar FBI Raid” report, local police reports are public information; so officers sharing* the existence of these reports do not violate any “non-disclosure agreements.” (* Except in cases were specific department policies prohibit it).
Sure it might sound crazy to think that police departments could start becoming UFO data collectors. However, I’d like to redirect you to the whole part in my initial opening about the Navy deciding to formally acknowledge the hunt to solve the unknown. In essence, maybe it is “crazy,” but it’s not “super crazy,” and as stated, at the fundamental level, sightings of unknown aircraft in U.S. airspace, really is an issue of public safety and national security.
At the end of the day, take away all of the theories, myths, maybes, and sensationalism – at its core, understanding the UFO enigma could have massive implications on our existential understandings of life.
At times, many may accuse me of being a skeptic; or better yet an undue critic of the contemporary paths Ufology seems to be going down. However, I hope no one thinks for one second, I don’t consider the real significance of this topic and wholeheartedly believe it should be treated with the seriousness it deserves.
In conclusion, as we’ve seen many brave veterans stand up and push for the military to take UFOs seriously. Maybe it’s also time more people, like myself, who come from another public service sector, step up to the plate as well and demand the topic of UFOs be taken serious.
Lt. Tim McMillan (Ret.) is a retired law enforcement professional, who's served as a criminal investigator, crime scene technician, K9-handler, Patrol supervisor, and Assistant Patrol Commander. He is also a P.O.S.T.-certified law enforcement instructor and internationally recognized law enforcement expert by the Law Enforcement Action Partnership. Lt. McMillan (Ret.) holds B.A. degrees in Psychology and Mathematics - with a focus on cognitive psychology, perception and consciousness. He's been featured numerous documentary films, showcased by over 150 different media organizations in 27 different countries, and was a 2017 TEDx Talks speaker.
For more on Lt. Tim McMillan (Ret.) you can check out his website at www.LtTimMcMillan.com.