Old 08-26-2005, 01:21 AM   #1
SD70MAC
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Default FBI Hassles RR Photographer

*Its a sick world out there!*



CHARLESTON, Ill. -- After listening to a message from the FBI, the first
question out of Rob Doyle's wife's mouth was, "Are you in trouble?"

During the last Fourth of July weekend, Doyle, an associate professor of
physical education, was spending time at a family reunion in Syracuse,
N.Y., according to this report by Megan Jurinek published by The Daily
Eastern News.

Doyle dropped his wife off at the airport and decided to catch up on his
hobby of watching and photographing trains.

At the local Amtrak Station, Doyle stopped to take pictures of some
trains entering and leaving the station.

During the photo shoot, Doyle was tapped on the shoulder by a policeman
who asked why he was taking pictures.

Doyle explained his train hobby and, after the officer ran his plates,
he was allowed to leave with his film.

A week later, terrorists bombed the London subway system.

A few days after the bombing, Doyle was contacted by an FBI agent who
informed him that the had spent the last two days investigating Doyle's
background.

"He wanted to see the photos I took," Doyle said.

Doyle spoke with the agent over the phone for a half hour and then met
with him a few days later.

"He was very professional," Doyle said. "He was just doing his job."

The agent spent Doyle's time asking questions and reviewing the
pictures, which were eventually confiscated.

He said the overall experience was comfortable and that one particular
aspect of his life helped keep him from persecution.

"I had a lot of good (credentials) on my side," he said.

Doyle believes that his status as a trustee, treasurer and volunteer
firefighter for the Lincoln Fire Protection District, president of the
Coles County Historical Society and a member of two railroad museums got
him off the hook

From this moment on, Doyle will have this incident on his federal record
and wonders if it will come back to haunt him.

"It will be interesting to see if I will have any problems at airports
when checking my background," he said.

(The preceding report by Megan Jurinek was published by The Daily
Eastern News on Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2005.
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Old 08-26-2005, 03:32 AM   #2
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Welcome to the police state-just a matter of time before photography is outlawed-that's when I leave the country.

Rich
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Old 08-26-2005, 03:33 AM   #3
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I don't think this really qualifies as hassling. As it says, they are just doing there job. They didn't arrest him, harshly interrogate him, etc. I was looking through the backlogs of the photography forums, and somewhere I found an article on a photographer who was out on his lunch break and took pictures near a federal building, I don't believe of it, but near it. He was detained for two hours in the basement of the federal building under armed guard, without being asked if he could contact his employer, his film was confiscated, and then he was finally released. He was a photographer for a local newspaper. If I had time I would find the thread, maybe I'll do it tommorow or something, unless anyone knows what I'm talking about. What you have here is a simple inquirie.
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Old 08-26-2005, 04:38 AM   #4
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Quote:
What you have here is a simple inquirie.
If that's simple I would hate to see a thorough inquirie!

I think they went way to far, and while they were wasting thier time on this gentleman think of who they may have overlooked.
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Old 08-26-2005, 08:44 AM   #5
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I thought we were supposed to have that police state up and running about 1986. I regularly shoot outside chemical plants. 'Hassles' on that front-zero. And with all the new technology camera wise released daily, I doubt photography is going to be fully banned. People get jumpy whenever something evil like the London bombings happen, but they do back off. I recently found a new place to shoot near an airport. 'Hassles' on that front-zero. Been questioned another place twice post 9/11. I wouldn't call it much of a hassle though. The officer's were only doing their jobs. Same as they were the the few times I was questioned in the 80's and/or90's. Big deal. Getting questioned while taking photos is NOT new.

And if a photography ban were anywhere in the near future, don't you think the government would step in and stop all the new camera phones from hitting the market?

But for the record, taking the guy's photographs away wasn't right either. Not sure what that accomplished with the above mentioned cell phone cameras that are already out there. I'm sure if he decided to press it legally, he could get them back.

just my opinion
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Old 08-26-2005, 10:21 AM   #6
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I don't see anything wrong with asking questions or asking to see the images.

However I think confiscating them crosses the line. If there's nothing "sensitive" in them like a defense installation there should be no reason to confiscate them.

Its also possible there was something else in his background that caused all this. Only the FBI knows the whole story, so there could be even more reason for checking him out than we know.

However I still object to confiscating pictures.

If it were me I'd sue to get them back as they are private, intellectually copyrighted property, and my work, which I take pride in.
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Old 08-26-2005, 12:32 PM   #7
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yea they just do thier jobs but...
i wanna to know wat about making permissions for railfans to catch any pix?
i mean dat if i wanna to catch trains arriving and leaving acentral station wat about making small cards(permissions) for railfans to catch trains in this station?
here in egypt i catch the pix of trains without permissions of police but this reflected to the quality and beauty of the pic as i feel afrain when i saw the police men looking to me and see the camera in my hand.
afraid for me called phil told me that when he eas in cairo central station and wanna to catch trains pix he went first to the police men and asked them for catching trains pix the police man gave him abusiness card which allow him to catch trains pix at this huge central station.
so wat about making permissions for railfans all over the world in the station and all places that related to railroads for catching pix in it?
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Old 08-26-2005, 12:34 PM   #8
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There is no need to request permission for something that is completely legal in the first place. Rules should not be applied where they are not needed. Things are just fine the way they are.
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Old 08-26-2005, 04:23 PM   #9
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2-3 weeks ago I was standing on a bridge about 1/2 a mile away from the McAlester Army Ammunition Plant in Savanna, Oklahoma, waiting for UP 1982 to start moving again after it had stopped for a red signal at "Navy" siding.

After about 5 minutes, the base security people (civilian rent-a-cops) came out and told me I had to leave. They said there were no cameras allowed near the base.

I told them what I was doing on the bridge and that the MOPAC unit was about to come by. They let me take my picture and watched me leave.

They were very nice about it ... I guess it helped having my son (9) with
me since he had his camera around his neck as well.
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Old 08-26-2005, 05:37 PM   #10
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there some people who dealing with you in anice way and also there some other people who take the film and told the one to leave.
i can remeber that when i were at BANHA city to make some activities for my faculty i get afilm to take some trains pix in this city(my first visit to it) then after catching the pic #2 there was aguy coming to me and asked me about wat im doing---->(railfaning is very very very rare here).
i told him that i love trains and love to catch pix for them .
he told me to show my personal leciense and i found that he was from (national security).
he asked me to leave without doing anything and adivced me about not to catch trains pix anymore time.
so there is all the kinds of people(good & bad) in dealing with these things
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Old 08-26-2005, 08:58 PM   #11
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If you were on public property at that distance from the plant,
base security had no legal authority to tell you that you couldn't
photograph there.

Dave

Quote:
Originally Posted by mbates
2-3 weeks ago I was standing on a bridge about 1/2 a mile away from the McAlester Army Ammunition Plant in Savanna, Oklahoma, waiting for UP 1982 to start moving again after it had stopped for a red signal at "Navy" siding.

After about 5 minutes, the base security people (civilian rent-a-cops) came out and told me I had to leave. They said there were no cameras allowed near the base.

I told them what I was doing on the bridge and that the MOPAC unit was about to come by. They let me take my picture and watched me leave.

They were very nice about it ... I guess it helped having my son (9) with
me since he had his camera around his neck as well.
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Old 08-26-2005, 10:33 PM   #12
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I've had an FBI agent come to my house to ask me about some train photos I took on public property. I wasn't home at the time, and I was able to clear everything up with him via a phone conversation. The agent was very professional and confirmed that it's still perfectly legal to photograph trains from public locations.

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Old 08-27-2005, 03:43 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wade H. Massie
I've had an FBI agent come to my house to ask me about some train photos I took on public property. I wasn't home at the time, and I was able to clear everything up with him via a phone conversation. The agent was very professional and confirmed that it's still perfectly legal to photograph trains from public locations.

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I have 5 words for LE: "I have nothing to say."
If they come to your house, you do not have to let them in.

Here: http://action.aclu.org/site/DocServe....pdf?docID=182

ANY totalitarian tactics are inexcusable. First time anyone tries to confiscate anything, I'd run to the newspapers so fast it'd make their heads spin.

"just doing their jobs" my ass!

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Old 08-27-2005, 03:52 AM   #14
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Perhaps I thought it just an inquirie because I had just read this thread while digging through some old posts. Here's the link to the thread I was talking about.
http://www.railpictures.net/forums/showthread.php?t=298
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Old 08-27-2005, 05:09 AM   #15
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What happened to people just being people? Just yesterday, I was driving along Laurel yard and met up with a fellow railfan snapping locos from the side of the road. A cop pulls up and asks what we are doing. I pulled the, one eyebrow, connecting the camera with the train motion, and the cop explores the scene under his sunglasses and then proceeds to run my ID as well as the fellow I was aquainted with. Let's see... legally parked on the shoulder of a public road, not standing on private property, nor commiting a law breaking act. Why the need to pull up with the lights on and run our IDs? It wouldn't have been so bad if the cop was friendly about it, maybe joke that he doesn't have much to show for that particular day, and needed to get his name on the clipboard twice more to make quota.
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Old 08-27-2005, 05:15 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mtrails
maybe joke that he doesn't have much to show for that particular day, and needed to get his name on the clipboard twice more to make quota.
Or maybe he was just trying to nip it in the bud.
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Old 08-27-2005, 10:26 PM   #17
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Since the 911 attack the FBI has taken a lot of flack from the public regarding not checking every reported incident. No matter were you are someone will usually be watching. Most of them not reporting it, but once in a while they do and when they do the FBI might just come a knocking on your door.
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Old 12-07-2005, 06:06 PM   #18
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I've run into both locals & RR bulls at least 6 times in the past year. They are just doing their jobs. I've not had a visit from the Feds & I even run the Central New Jersey Wide Area Stream at RailroadRadio.net.

I carry a folder in my car that contains copies of my DL, car registration, & business card. If I'm stopped I give them a copy. Since I'm not breaking any laws, that's the end of it.

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Old 12-07-2005, 08:32 PM   #19
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I guess these guys are doing their jobs. I spent a year in college studying post 9/11 Criminal Justice and rail security is becoming a huge issue in the U.S. Most good cops may ask you what you are doing then leave you alone, however in urban areas I can see them being a little more interested. I have seen numerous Norfolk Southern Hi-Rail trucks pass me while I am out taking photos and the drivers always wave as do the engine crews, and Id imagine if any of those RR employees saw photography as a threat they would radio it into the dispatcher. The local police department also drives right past me while I am out taking photos.I guess being in the South and in a non urban area makes a difference after all
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Old 12-07-2005, 09:54 PM   #20
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Old 12-07-2005, 11:27 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Frederick
I doubt the FBI would hassle a 13 year-old like me...
They could though.

I know things have happened in Polo, IL along the BNSF, like a group of teens destroying a signal or something, and BNSF detectives will go door to door looking for something. My grandma has had some detectives at her door on more than one occasion.
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Old 12-08-2005, 12:14 AM   #22
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Greetings to all-- May I add a little insight to this discussion, which may help folks understand law enforcement "mentality"-- We suffered a great disaster on 9/11-- Since then, terrorist acts have occured in many places around the world, causing havoc and destruction-- Similar incidents can be prevented if they are known about before they happen, and this comes from "intel", which is gathered from many sources, in bits and pieces, much like a puzzle-- When these bits and pieces are analyzed and put together, an important piece of information can result, possible preventing an ugly incident-- The bad guys do not advertise their intentions--
These bits and pieces are gathered by LE Officers in all areas-- Patrol, detectives, rail police, and citizens like us-- Remember, the officer who approaches you most likely does not know you or anything about you-- In my career, 97% of all the people I contacted were the $hitbums of society-- When I had contact with decent law abiding citizens, it was because they had contact with a $hitbum-- And remember, the officer who approaches you may have already had contact with several of these folks, and may not be having a good day-- Still, that is no excuse for being rude and mistreating the taxpayer-- Officer safety is an important consideration, especially to the officer-- They are generally overworked and underpaid--
Another fact to consider is that most people do not hang around rail facilities with a cameras, at all hours and in all kinds of weather-- We are looked at with a jaundiced eye by most "normal" folks who do not understand our interest in trains-- Even my family questions my motivation (sanity??)--
Perhaps folks should learn not to take everything so personally-- An officer has a right and a duty to ask questions of people "out of the norm"-- The worst thing a person can do is cop an attitude-- If you want to play hard-ball and create an incident, the officer can turn it into a most unpleasant experience--Answering a few questions and showing ID is not a big deal-- Many times LE folks have information the public doesn't know about, and followup needs to be done-- This can be by local, state, or federal officers, and at a later date-- I've been "hassled" by officers numerous times, and by showing a good attitude and cooperating, there were no problems--Keep smiling-- Regards, da Gator
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Old 12-08-2005, 01:59 AM   #23
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There are quite a few suicides by train. Police officers aren't out looking to hassle photographers, just like screeners here aren't discriminating because of age.

It is safe to say, nearly a third of police calls are "suspicious" cars or people concerns called in from civillians. I have been to many diabetics and other medical emergency calls based on these "suspicious" activity calls.

Allowing a search of your home for no apparent reason is far different from being questioned while standing on a bridge or outside an industrial park. Who knows, you may get to be recognized and develop a relationship, making it easier to railfan hassle free.

Firegator did a great job regarding crabby cops.
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Old 12-08-2005, 04:26 AM   #24
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I just had an encounter on December 1st while standing at a crossing in New York state while waiting for a train I had been chasing to get there. I was standing just off the crossing on the ballast with my camera in hand as I was listening the train climbing the grade in the distance and the Schoharie County sherriff pulls up. He was an extremely nice guy and just asked if we were taking pictures of trains and I explained that I was and that there was one approaching. He said it was no problem and he wasnt going to "bust my you know whats" about it and off he went.
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Old 12-08-2005, 04:45 AM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by busyEMT
It is safe to say, nearly a third of police calls are "suspicious" cars or people concerns called in from civillians.

Allowing a search of your home for no apparent reason is far different from being questioned while standing on a bridge or outside an industrial park. Who knows, you may get to be recognized and develop a relationship, making it easier to railfan hassle free.
In Minnesota a police officer does not need probable cause to run your 10-45, sorry, your driver's license or ID. In fact, it is encouraged every contact you have, you should check their status for warrants, probation, etc...

We all have to realize to a non-railfan, taking pictures of trains whether on public or private proprty is suspicious, though not illegal on public property.

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