Old 09-04-2009, 05:40 PM   #1
AuTiger19
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From the Trains News Wire

Published: Thursday, September 03, 2009
WASHINGTON — Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano this week suggested citizens should call law enforcement when they see someone taking a picture of "critical infrastructure." Photographing rail lines from public property remains perfectly legal, but Napolitano suggests citizens should call police anyway.

"One of the things we ask people to do," Napolitano told Fox News, "is when they see something unusual, if they see, for example, somebody continually taking photographs of a piece of critical infrastructure that doesn't seem to make any sense … to report that to local law enforcement so it can be followed up on."
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Old 09-04-2009, 05:57 PM   #2
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From the Trains News Wire
Photographing rail lines from public property remains perfectly legal, but Napolitano suggests citizens should call police anyway.

Wow just wow......
I think im going to call the police next time i see someone playing golf or working on their garden.
A strange hobby it may be, but its still a hobby just as legal as any other. That sentence is a complete contradiction telling people to report legal activities to the police.
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Old 09-04-2009, 06:15 PM   #3
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http://forums.railpictures.net/showthread.php?t=5837

Spend enough time taking pictures of trains and you will interact with law enforcement officials. My experiences range from a polite "what'cha do'in" to getting frisked and searched... a talking head on Fox News mongering more fear isn't going to make anything worse, it's been bad since 9/11.
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Old 09-04-2009, 06:22 PM   #4
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I've never had any problem with -real- police, but maybe that's just because of my style. Whenever I have problems, it always seems to be with the railway cops.
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Old 09-04-2009, 06:36 PM   #5
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I hope they have fun calling the cops everytime they see someone taking a photo of the Willis Tower or Empire State Building. The terrorist are definently winning this battle. Idiots.
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Old 09-04-2009, 08:48 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by AuTiger19 View Post
Published: Thursday, September 03, 2009
WASHINGTON — Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano this week suggested citizens should call law enforcement when they see someone taking a picture of "critical infrastructure." Photographing rail lines from public property remains perfectly legal, but Napolitano suggests citizens should call police anyway.

"One of the things we ask people to do," Napolitano told Fox News, "is when they see something unusual, if they see, for example, somebody continually taking photographs of a piece of critical infrastructure that doesn't seem to make any sense … to report that to local law enforcement so it can be followed up on."
More proof that this government is doubling as an insane asylum.
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Old 09-04-2009, 09:32 PM   #7
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More proof that this government is doubling as an insane asylum.
All my life, I've been amazed at the clowns we elect to govern us. Most often, their primary qualifications are that they have lots of money and lots of ego. It's not public service. They WANT to be in charge. There's no requirement that they have to be intelligent and they also don't have to listen to the people they allegedly represent. And.....if you're elected in the People's Republic of Massachusetts, you're on the gravy train for life!

I am so glad I shoot only steam engines. In the places where these machines exist, there are so many people taking pictures of them that the act no longer seems silly or suspicious to the local constabulary.
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Old 09-04-2009, 10:41 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by trainboysd40 View Post
I've never had any problem with -real- police, but maybe that's just because of my style. Whenever I have problems, it always seems to be with the railway cops.
Or maybe it is because you are north of the 49th parallel.
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Old 09-04-2009, 11:43 PM   #9
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It's not just photography, I was eating my lunch from McDonald's, sitting parked on a city street in Chicago, when three police cars showed up. I got out of the car, and with their guns drawn told me to get back in the car and open my window. They asked for my ID and after running that, they said I was okay. I didn't feel okay.

The police told me someone called because it looked suspicious eating my lunch in my car. People are getting very weird. And they say that railfanning is weird.

The thing I'm worried about now, is that I'm taking a railfan vacation next week, and one of the things I wanted to shoot is that chemical plant just west of Cheyenne along the UP. I wanted to use it as a background behind a UP train at night. I'm still wondering if it's going to be worth it.

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Old 09-05-2009, 01:33 AM   #10
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It's not just photography, I was eating my lunch from McDonald's, sitting parked on a city street in Chicago, when three police cars showed up. I got out of the car, and with their guns drawn told me to get back in the car and open my window. They asked for my ID and after running that, they said I was okay. I didn't feel okay.

The police told me someone called because it looked suspicious eating my lunch in my car. People are getting very weird. And they say that railfanning is weird.

The thing I'm worried about now, is that I'm taking a railfan vacation next week, and one of the things I wanted to shoot is that chemical plant just west of Cheyenne along the UP. I wanted to use it as a background behind a UP train at night. I'm still wondering if it's going to be worth it.

Chris Z.
Most dem. crazies live in the East and Cali. You should be fine. Just watch out for the crazy rep. with guns where you are going.

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Old 09-05-2009, 01:42 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by Chris Z View Post
It's not just photography, I was eating my lunch from McDonald's, sitting parked on a city street in Chicago, when three police cars showed up. I got out of the car, and with their guns drawn told me to get back in the car and open my window. They asked for my ID and after running that, they said I was okay. I didn't feel okay.

The police told me someone called because it looked suspicious eating my lunch in my car. People are getting very weird. And they say that railfanning is weird.

The thing I'm worried about now, is that I'm taking a railfan vacation next week, and one of the things I wanted to shoot is that chemical plant just west of Cheyenne along the UP. I wanted to use it as a background behind a UP train at night. I'm still wondering if it's going to be worth it.

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You should be fine! Just don't have nuclear weapons in your vehicle....
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Old 09-05-2009, 02:17 AM   #12
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Most dem. crazies live in the East and Cali. You should be fine. Just watch out for the crazy rep. with guns where you are going.
Homeland security excesses are driven by the left wing?????
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Old 09-05-2009, 02:26 AM   #13
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Homeland security excesses are driven by the left wing?????
Just the cop callers. Public service dependents.


Everyone is crazy anyways, just in different ways.
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Old 09-05-2009, 02:56 AM   #14
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Wow Travis, way to offend everyone in one post! That's like a unassisted triple play.
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Old 09-05-2009, 02:58 AM   #15
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Wow Travis, way to offend everyone in one post! That's like a unassisted triple play.
I just didn't want to leave anyone out.
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Old 09-05-2009, 04:47 AM   #16
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I think I'm going to call myself in one time, just to see how it plays out..

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Old 09-05-2009, 07:31 AM   #17
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I mean really, do you think that terrorists would still risk getting caught taking pictures of public infrastructure when there is google earth? I think that google has provided all the research pictures enough for any terrorist with an internet connection. Especially as the street level view is being added... Who needs to go ACTUALLY shoot something for their reference anymore?
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Old 09-05-2009, 08:57 AM   #18
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Honestly I think people are really over reacting about this. Its not like Napolitano is asking the general public to stop their cars and break our cameras if something seems unusual. She is simply saying call the cops to make sure everything is okay. If the cops do their job right, all this should amount to is a friendly ten second conversation with an officer.

How is this any different than the BNSF Railfan watch program that (most) railfans hailed as step in the right direction? In both examples, the general public is being ask to report anything that may possibly be wrong so that the proper authorities can decide if it is in fact wrong and take steps to correct it.

The unfortunate truth is that we were caught with our pants down during 9/11 and 2,000+ Americans lost their lives because of it. We would be stupid to not take steps to try to be more prepared in the future. With this in mind, why not use one of your most easily available and cost effective resources; the general population? Of course, these precautions should not come at a cost to our personal freedoms - which having a police officer politely and respectfully check in on you isn't.

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Old 09-05-2009, 09:17 AM   #19
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Except the police are not always so friendly. Especially when they have their guns pulled out. I still don't see the connection between photography and terrorism. Do terrorists take pictures before they blow things up?

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Old 09-05-2009, 09:57 AM   #20
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Except the police are not always so friendly. Especially when they have their guns pulled out. I still don't see the connection between photography and terrorism. Do terrorists take pictures before they blow things up?

Chris Z.
Uneducated and/or unfriendly police are not the fault of this call to the nation's population, they are the result of a failure on a local level.

As for the link between photography and terrorism, what was the link between flight simulators and terrorism on September 10th 2001?

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Old 09-05-2009, 12:11 PM   #21
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Hmmm,

Thinking about it, as a railfan, let's face it... we are a small minority of crazed train fanatics that have nothing better to do than to take pics of trains passing by. Can you think of any other possible "fan" that sits around at the side of the road, rail, etc, for many hours at a time with a camera taking pictures of specific infrastructures ie:trains? I guess that in our case as a railfan, many people do not share the the same enthusiasm as us towards trains and maybe for the odd inconvenience it may cause us to question our motives, I think that if it is handled with respect by both sides towards each other for doing their jobs, then I think that I wouldn't mind someone asking WTF I am doing up a tree with a camera and my lunch overlooking Union Pacific's Grand Central Station in New York during peak commuter rush hour. As long as the enforcement officer that does the asking understands the answer of what a railfan is. I think that the best answer here is to have a card, or some sort of ID that states your basics and that you are a railfan just taking pics of trains, this may help justify your actions. A good LEO should be able to understand what's up and be on his merry way knowing that you are just a railfan and not a terrorist with a plot to spray passing trains with biochemical warfare as they pass by.

Basically if handled correctly, 999,999 times out of 1 million, railfans get a quick whatcha up to? And both sides respect each others motives, maybe take down the railfan's particulars just for kicks, then be on their way knowing that it is for the best interest of the safety of the people to check out of the ordinary or suspicious activities. But what about that 1 in a million chance that it is not one of us and that person up the tree... well just may not be a railfan at all and is up to no good. I think that I would sleep better at night knowing that someone is out there looking out for that 1 in a million and be thankful that someone did ask, rather than nobody asking and not caring why and missing the 1 in a million non railfan which may lead to...???

I have nothing to hide and if whomever wants to approach me- I welcome the chance to meet someone who is really just watching our backs for the safety of the public - as long as there is respect for what each other is doing. Just think... it may be a slight inconvenience for us once in a blue moon, but what about the officer that has to treat every similar activity multiple times a day every day with the possibility of it being a bad guy up to no good, and having to make the distinction and judgment call based on information received during the investigation when most of the time turning out to be some goofy guy in a tree taking pics of trains, then on to the next call. I can only hope that the same investigation would eventually result in stopping the next bad guy before it happens.

I will say it again and think that the key is respect for each other. It will ensure that each encounter is handled by both sides as quickly and painlessly as possible.

Edit: Can you think of the possibilities of the danger a train (or trains) can be under certain circumstances in the wrong hands? Trains transport both various types of hazardous cargo and passengers sharing sections of track in highly populated areas. They are big, powerful, and can prove to be hard to stop if they did not want to be. Given the right set of planned circumstances under the control of bad guys, I wouldn't underestimate the damage that could be done with some trains. Airplanes have been done already. If you were a terrorist, what would you use next?

Cheers
Chris

Last edited by Chrisssssssss; 09-05-2009 at 12:30 PM. Reason: see above - added
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Old 09-05-2009, 01:13 PM   #22
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Edit: Can you think of the possibilities of the danger a train (or trains) can be under certain circumstances in the wrong hands? Trains transport both various types of hazardous cargo and passengers sharing sections of track in highly populated areas. They are big, powerful, and can prove to be hard to stop if they did not want to be. Given the right set of planned circumstances under the control of bad guys, I wouldn't underestimate the damage that could be done with some trains. Airplanes have been done already. If you were a terrorist, what would you use next?
Chris;

Forgive me if I come of sounding condescending. But duh. Don't you think we already know that trains are "big, powerful" and "hard to stop."? You don't need to go out and take photographs to find this out. The guys out taking pictures of trans aren't the ones that would want to do something bad with trains. They're the ones that are likely to see the bad guys in the first place if they haven't been run off by people who don't understand what we're doing.

Some people when they're told their hobby "looks suspicious" or are flat out told to stop taking pictures of trains will actually heed the frankly un-American advice. Lesss people trackside could mean an easier target for people wishing to do us harm.

Frankly, I think the advice to call in anything by Janet Napolitano is stupid. I think it could cause the police to look for "phantom bad guys" while real, actual bad guys could be out there causing us real harm. For instance, I rarely sit in one spot too long. I'm just not that patient. So say I'm standing on a bridge taking pictures of a train approaching. Someone calls me in. Train passes and I go on my way. Police come and don't see me. Now they're looking for a phantom bad guy while I'm merrily on my way elsewhere unaware I've been called on.

Look, I've said before I don't mind an LEO coming up to see what I'm doing. But when they start asking for ID, start telling me not to do what I'm doing, start preaching to me about a "different world" we live in now, I have a problem with that. Is that really hard to understand?

By the way, when did Union Pacific get into New York?

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Old 09-05-2009, 01:53 PM   #23
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I don't get what sense makes such "public awareness" in times of hi-res camera phones and publicly available large-scale ortophotos and stuff like track maps at nycsubway.org.
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Old 09-05-2009, 02:36 PM   #24
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Hey Joe,

I know what you are saying and agree about the thought that we should be allowed to do what we're doing - it is not wrong and should be allowed to continue, but on the other hand, not alot of people understand our passion for train pictures and us railfan's are in a class of our own here when it comes to hobbies. Let's just for kicks say that I could be a bad guy that is taking pics and noting timetables and general observations of what trains going what ways at what times carrying what types of cargo and what tracks go where - maybe even search out a good place to jump on a train with a gun, take out the engineer and hijack a train of choice with bad intentions. Add multiples of other bad guys with similar intent... well it could be messy...

I mean, what types of safeguards are in place to prevent that from actually happening? Who's really to say that the guy standing next to the track as a train approaches at speed, or slow enough that the train could be boarded by the guy who is not just a guy with a camera, but a backpack full of hurt? Do engineers keep their doors locked during a trip? Trains travel at ground level, and frequently slow for various reasons sometimes coming to complete stops along the route making it possible to very easily hop aboard by whomever with bad intentions. Do this with all your friends and it could really get very messy indeed.

I am not an engineer nor do I work in the industry, so I ask this question seriously: What really precautions are in place to stop this type of thing from happening? You hear of pirates hijacking ships of cargo in the open seas, what about train hijacking? Could a train be remotely shut down if such a scenario was to occur?

Even sabotaging rails to derail a train - that could happen? Is the guy standing by the tracks a harmless railfan, or someone with other ideas? I can definitely see a point to at least question that guy what his motives are. If it is a railfan, then it's a railfan. I am not suggesting in any way that it should be not allowed to continue, or that any pictures should be destroyed, or whatever if it is a legitimate and harmless railfan. That LEO has to make that judgement call in a moment with very little information and his gut feeling as to what this person is really up to. I completely agree that it would be wrong to not allow legitimate railfaning hobbyists to be railfaning hobbyists. But if that person is not a railfan, then what? I am still saying that I would rather be questioned on occasion as long as there is respect for our hobby. I think that if we showed the same respect to the LEO to do his duties to prevent something bad like that from happening, I think that it should be clear to the LEO who the railfan is and who the bad guys are. If that one in a million guy gets the "whatcha doin?" and does not seem to have the same answers as the typical railfan - seems fishy who knows what that may lead to. 999,999 times the LEO would know what a railfan is and will just roll their eyes and be on their way.

I still think that I would rather be questioned than not (of course it is a bit of an inconvenience and a bit obtrusive) because I have nothing to hide. Railfaning is a hobby and I think that it should have to accept that these times are different and accept some of the ramifications that comes with the territory. Trains are a pretty serious infrastructure that can become very dangerous if the controls fall into the wrong hands and be pretty difficult to regain that control if it is lost until it is too late and possibilities of substantial damage have already occurred.

Like I said, I am not against railfaning - trust me. I am one too, all I am saying is that if it is just a minor inconvenience of the "whatcha doin?" every now and again - hey it is now a new rule of the game that is adapting to the times, as I am sure that it is going to be even more of an inconvenience to the LEO's for every suspicious person call that turns out railfan. Multiples of false calls a day, every day, but have to all be treated as possible bad guy... I think will ware thin on the LEO's too. But what if...

Oh, the Union Pacific thing... I meant to say L.A., not New York... Next you are going to tell me that LA does not have a Grand Central Station... Whatever... you know what I am saying. Man are you railfan's nitpicky!!!

Cheers
Chris
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Old 09-05-2009, 02:55 PM   #25
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Someone needs to call the police on her every time she steps out of her office, saying there is a mad lady running from the White House! It is only going to get worse with her in there!
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