Old 05-19-2010, 07:23 PM   #1
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Default This is sad....

Just found this from one of our forum members.

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The saddest thing to me are two of the comments left --

Posted by Mike Roth on May 9, 2010

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Had the same thing happen to me at Burns Harbor Indiana a few years back,scares the heck out of you,but Its better to just move on like you did and enjoy the day somewhere else. The cops are wrong,but its not worth the fight.

Posted by Jeff Jordan on May 12, 2010

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It probably didn't help when you told them you were on a public sidewalk and had the right to take pictures. Those kind of comments tend to make the situation worse.
The LEO had a right to ask what Nikos was doing. Nikos had a right to be a little pissed if he was. He answered the LEOs question and then added that he was on a public sidewalk, affirming to the man that he knew his rights even if maybe the LEO didn't.

But the "it's just not worth it" comment makes me angry and sad more than anything. It's just not worth it, right up to the point where it becomes law since no one has really fought for the right, it not being worth it and all.
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Old 05-19-2010, 08:01 PM   #2
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Maybe it's just my tendency to shoot in the mountains, but I've only had a couple incidents here in Canadia where I was told that photography was illegal. Both times it wasn't an actual cop (Once a security guard and once a CP employee) and both times I stood my ground and enjoyed the rest of the day shooting, especially after the real police (One time a CP cop and the other time the city police) had been summoned and basically told the other guys to bugger off and let me have my fun.
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Old 05-19-2010, 10:47 PM   #3
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Indeed, those comments annoyed me as well, been meaning to post a response comment but have been caught up with other things, just went and posted one now.
The whole situation had me pretty pissed off for a few days, which didnt really help with finals...
I have no problem with LEO's asking me what i'm doing, I know most are just doing their job, i know you are one now Joe. Indeed I was questioned by a guy back in March or so and he let me explain the hobby, even down to why I wanted a shot of a Conrail unit.
I do have a problem with the answer "watching trains" necessitates searching a person standing on a public sidewalk, and calling backup in the form of 5 more cops and then threatening them with arrest for doing perfectly legal things because it "looks suspicious". If i had remembered to get the badge numbers there would be a long nasty letter to the Atlanta Police and the Georgia World Congress Center police, but from now on im carrying my photographers rights paper with me, and if shooting from that bridge a copy of the Georgia criminal tresspass law....
I made sure that I stated that I knew the law and that they were infringing on it, if people dont stand up for their rights, oversealous LEO's can keep up this "911 law" bs and get away with it.

Oh and wtf is "Who are you with?" supposed to mean? Always the first question, what kind of answer are they expecting, perhaps I should go get myself a FRA hat?
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Old 05-19-2010, 11:51 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Joe the Photog View Post
But the "it's just not worth it" comment makes me angry and sad more than anything. It's just not worth it, right up to the point where it becomes law since no one has really fought for the right, it not being worth it and all.
Joe, I understand and agree in principle with your point, but when you are all alone and confronted by a guy with a badge and a gun, it's a bit like being confronted by a big, muscular drunk in a bar. The cause might be righteous, but the venue for the fight isn't right and the odds are aren't on your side. If the LEO is ignorant, getting wise or getting righteous with him/her will likely just escalate the situation.

When an LEO approaches, the best strategy is to be open, honest and compliant. If the guy or gal is an idiot, take note of that fact and get his/her badge number. Most LEOs respect the citizens and they know the laws. For the ones that don't, you're not going to change their mind in the field. Be apologetic and do what you're asked to do. When the engagement is over, get a lawyer and kick their @$$ in court or in the media or both, where the odds are on your side. Just as no bar fight over a girl is worth a stab wound, no encounter with an LEO over a picture is worth an arrest record or worse.

I had my very first encounter with the law just last week, while I waited to take this picture:
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My car was legally parked on the side of a public road and I was standing on public property, just inside of the guardrail, waiting for the train to come. When a State Trooper car passed me, I figured he'd take notice and he did. The brake lights came on and he pulled over. After some period of time (during which he tried to run my plate), he got out of the car. At that point, I walked over to meet and greet him. He asked me what I was doing and I explained in very concise terms. I even showed him some frames on my LCD, so he could see what I'd been up to. He asked for some ID, which I gladly showed him. He then explained that he wasn't there to hassle me and was just acting on policy that photography of transportation infrastructure could be suspicious. He assured me that nothing I was doing was illegal and after asking some more questions to confirm my story, returned to his car. He then waited until the train passed and saw me leave before leaving himself. I suspect that the "show" that the crew put on when the train passed probably convinced him that my story about visiting with them earlier in the day was probably true. All in all, the guy was very respectful and I was of him.

I should have told him to Google my name. I think those guys have Internet in the car. My RP link is the first hit that comes up. Having some "business cards" printed up is also on my to-do list. It would help to have something to hand the LEOs besides a driver's license.
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Old 05-19-2010, 11:56 PM   #5
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This cop is a piece of crap and deserves whatever bad will come to him eventually
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Old 05-20-2010, 12:16 AM   #6
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I've never had a problem with a cop. I have been questioned professionally, many times.

How bad does it look to be standing beside a 6200 foot tunnel, alone, at 2 am?

Yeah.

The judicial system decides right or wrong. You will not win a face to face confrontation with a police officer no matter how wrong he is. Save the battle for the courtroom.

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Old 05-20-2010, 01:00 AM   #7
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The judicial system decides right or wrong. You will not win a face to face confrontation with a police officer no matter how wrong he is. Save the battle for the courtroom.
I think the point is, he answered all the questions he was asked, cooperated, but the dick cop didnt like being told he wasnt doing anything wrong. Cops are there to protect and serve, to enforce the law, not make stuff up.

I know right where he took that picture, and believe me within a mile of there, there is guaranteed to be tons of LEGITIMATE CRIME going on. While this cop was harassing the railfan, some thug was likely robbing someone, breaking and entering, stealing, dealing crack, pimping hoes or just about any other thing you can think of. Yet he was wasting his time harassing a photographer.

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Old 05-20-2010, 01:32 AM   #8
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I know right where he took that picture, and believe me within a mile of there, there is guaranteed to be tons of LEGITIMATE CRIME going on. While this cop was harassing the railfan, some thug was likely robbing someone, breaking and entering, stealing, dealing crack, pimping hoes or just about any other thing you can think of. Yet he was wasting his time harassing a photographer.
Oh yes....I was quite tempted to say why dont you go peddle your bike down the road a little to Bankhead and find some real criminals....probably wouldve pushed myself a bit closer to a disorderly conduct arrest.
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Old 05-20-2010, 01:41 AM   #9
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When did we start referring to them as LEO ??
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Old 05-20-2010, 02:11 AM   #10
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Searched you? Threatened to be arrested for doing something that is legal? Wait until they demand your camera!

Not only can you get them for kidnapping since they took you without a legitimate reason, but then you can get them for theft when they take your camera.

I'd highly consider writing a letter to a local newspaper or to the City of Atlanta.

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Old 05-20-2010, 02:40 AM   #11
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The photographers right page doesn't say a whole lot about dealing with police officers.

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Old 05-20-2010, 03:34 AM   #12
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The legal precedent for a pat down search on the street is known as a "Terry Stop". It comes from 1968 USSC decision Terry v. Ohio in which an officer with reasonable suspicion may pat down search a person for weapons for the officers safety. Bear in mind that reasonable suspicion requires more than a "hunch". It's always been a hot button issue and this instance is no different.

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Searched you?
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Old 05-20-2010, 03:45 AM   #13
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The legal precedent for a pat down search on the street is known as a "Terry Stop". It comes from 1968 USSC decision Terry v. Ohio in which an officer with reasonable suspicion may pat down search a person for weapons for the officers safety. Bear in mind that reasonable suspicion requires more than a "hunch". It's always been a hot button issue and this instance is no different.
When Nikos said "search", I thought more along the lines of the officer physically looking through his camera bag for something peculiar. If it was only a pat down search, why that is still taking it a step further, it's not as bad as physically disrupting the photographer and his equipment.

Police officers and security guards seem to always over step their boundaries. Most of the time, it seems to be security guards more so than actual law enforcement. Generally, the police officer should have a general idea of what is legal and what is not. He should at least know doing anything from public property is certainly allowed, unless otherwise stated and even at that, the reason for prohibiting photography should be legit and not an invalid and ridiculous statement of "because it's suspicious".

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Old 05-20-2010, 04:49 AM   #14
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I'll kinda play devil's advocate. The West Virginia Code of Law is a multiple volume set, totaling around 12,000 pages. There were 850 changes in law this year. I can't expect a police officer (many of whom make just over minimum wage in smaller municipal areas) to know each law perfectly.

That's why it's smart to be polite, respectful, and if you are treated wrong; Take care of it in court. Go in with the proof, and reap the rewards.

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Old 05-20-2010, 04:52 AM   #15
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When did we start referring to them as LEO ??
Must be an east coast thing. Honestly, I'd never heard of a cop referred to as a LEO until someone wrote it in this forum a year or two ago.
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Old 05-20-2010, 04:58 AM   #16
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Exclamation Dang phone posted response twice.

Please remove

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Old 05-20-2010, 05:00 AM   #17
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Talking That is serious stuff.

There is no question where "I" stand on this topic.

Joe is right, assert your rights but don't get arrested, the cops lie and in court the deck is stacked against you.

Terry is correct but you notice they don't ask for ID right off the bat?

It was a shakedown plain and simple.

Go complain. There will be radio log and car dispatch entries in their data system.

THEY VIOLATED YOUR CIVIL RIGHTS AN THREATENED YOU UNDER COLOR OF AUTHORITY!
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Old 05-20-2010, 05:07 AM   #18
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When did we start referring to them as LEO ??
It is what they call each other.
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Old 05-20-2010, 05:25 AM   #19
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I don't like to call them cops. Another forum I used to frequent called them LEOs (for Law Enforcement Officers) and it stuck with me.
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Old 05-20-2010, 11:59 AM   #20
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No one is denying a cop's right to stop anyone and ask for ID and do a pat-down, it's called "stop and frisk", its legal. But it should have ended there, but it didnt because the cop has a god complex...
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Old 05-20-2010, 11:37 PM   #21
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In December 2009, I decided to stop in at Narangba station to take a few shots of local trains before continuing home from the beach. After about half an hour, the Police got off a train and came down to the end of the platform to ask me a few questions. They reported that Train Control has requested I cease taking photos over the PA system. I explained to Rail Enthusiast Photography Policy to them but they wouldn't have a bar of it. So I asked a few questions ... who did you speak with in Train Control? Obviously, they wouldn't tell me and I simply said, "That's no problem, I know who's currently rostered on." I also asked their full name and service identification and said I would call Corporate Relations as soon as our conversation was over. I even tried to show them a copy of Railway Digest where I'd recently published an article to smooth over the situation but they just twisted my words in their report.

A few days later at the official (invite only) media event for the opening of Varsity Lakes, I ran into the two Police officers again. This time they avoided making eye contact from a distance so I approached them, "Strange to see your boys here. Why did you report ... back to Train Control and have it put in an Incident Report?" Sheepishly, the shorter one replied, "No threat today." I continued on my way ...

The cops obviously didn't believe me when I said I would report them ...

Queensland Rail is a state-government corporation and their stations are public land. Therefore, I'm more than welcome to take photos while I'm there ...
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Old 05-21-2010, 12:50 AM   #22
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I believe Mr. Landrum is right, I did some research that day and what he did was considered a Terry stop which was legal, but highly unnecessary like the whole situation, I find it hard to imagine the thought process that leads one to think camera + scanner = guy who's going to pull out a gun and shoot a cop in broad daylight on a busy street....yeah.
The officer then later threatened to put me in handcuffs cause I put my hands in my pockets while waiting, not really thinking about it, this guy really had a really inflated ego, its not like he was even assigned to a dangerous part of town, this part of Jones Ave is pretty gentrified now.
Whats even stranger is they did not even ask to look at my camera, not even take it out of the bag, the other two run ins ive had both asked to see that, leading me to believe he was just on a power trip and new full well I was doing nothing wrong.

A question for clarification, if i am on a public sidewalk sans car, am I required to produce an ID...assuming im not in Arizona?

I am willing to write a letter but at this time is it too late for it to have an effect, I did not report anything initially because I did not have a badge number. But I can see the positive results that can occur as in Micheal's story.
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Old 05-21-2010, 01:52 AM   #23
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Yes, they can perform a stop and frisk any time they want, any place they want, which includes asking you for ID. You are not required to CARRY identification, which is another story. Lying and telling them you dont have ID because you dont want to give it to them is a bad idea too. Simply identifying yourself, and if they ask (and you know) your drivers license # will usually suffice. This cop would have arrested your ass most likely.
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Old 05-21-2010, 02:15 AM   #24
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I like to keep a couple of railroad mags along with an Amtrak brochure in my car just in case I'm ever stopped and questioned. If they want to see why I'm taking pics of trains, I'll just show them the publications and hopefully they'll understand my hobby.

I've only been questioned twice by cops in the 3+ years I've been photographing trains, and one cop laughed at me and drove away, while the other just told us to be careful (we were standing on a bridge waiting for 4449) and went on his way. I did get chased off a bridge by a moron airport security officer who was out of his jurisdiction, but I got my shot first (the train was approaching as he was telling me I couldn't be there) and then went on my way. I've been back up on that bridge a few times since and haven't seen him again.

I definitely agree with Joe's position on this.
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Old 05-22-2010, 01:42 AM   #25
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Exclamation Terry Stops and ID

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Yes, they can perform a stop and frisk any time they want, any place they want, which includes asking you for ID.
Yes, according to a U.S. Supreme Court case that came down in the last year or two, the police may stop you on the street and ask for ID if they have a specific and articulable reason to believe that you are involved in the commission of a crime, or are a suspect in a crime that has just occurred.

This does not mean the police can stop you and ask for ID anytime they feel like it, and for whatever reason.


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You are not required to CARRY identification, which is another story.
No you are not, however if a LEO is unable to determine who you are, they are empowered to bring you before the magistrate in order to answer for a violation of a public offense - assuming you have committed a public offense.

If you have done nothing wrong, you cannot be taken to jail for simply being unable to identify yourself.

You can however be taken to jail for willingly refusing to identify yourself to an LEO when they are acting in the lawful performance of their duties.


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Lying and telling them you dont have ID because you dont want to give it to them is a bad idea too.
Yes.

Lying to the police (obstruction) is a crime and giving false information to the police in order to conceal one's true identity is another separate offense.

Both bad ideas and really stupid if you are not doing anything wrong in the first place.

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Simply identifying yourself, and if they ask (and you know) your drivers license # will usually suffice.
This will suffice since you are usually not required in this Country to have ID unless you are driving.


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This cop would have arrested your ass most likely.
This gets back to Joe's statement.

Bad cops lie and they get away with it most of the time, which tends to make them worse cops, who lie even more and tell taller tails.

Eventually their deceit catches up with them because they become so arrogant that they begin to believe that they can do, and say anything.

It is very hard to "out" bad police officers because the system has built in so many protections for them.

It is better if you can avoid it, not be the guy who's case outs the bad cop because it is time consuming and expensive.

Better to walk away out of custody and make complaints, or go after them civilly than to be forced to make your point while defending a criminal action.
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