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Thread started 24 Oct 2007 (Wednesday) 02:56
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Harassed by police/fire...Help?

 
toofastgtp
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Ok So i got off work at 1am, walk out of the building and i see firetrucks and a lot of smoke coming from across the street. I run home and get my camera. Im there for a good 30-45min during that time of of the officers comes across the street (im on the other side of the street of the fire) tells me that i can come over with the press and take pictures until someone askes me to leave. I tell him i jsut do this on my own im really just starting out and done want to get in the real professionals way. we talk for a few moments.

Im leaving walking to my car and another officer tells stop so i stop and he started asking me who i am, who i work for. I told him and asked him what am i doing wrong. He tells me that it is very odd to see someone with a camera that is not with any type of press. He asks me do i plan on selling these i tell him i did not know there was a market for non professional photos. So i give him my info.

Now at this time i have a fire marshall or investigator at this time walk up to me with kinda a strong attitude. He is asking what do we have here. Starts saying you know we can take you to jail for interfering with this investigation he says he is not going to do it right now but he is also taking my info and said he is going to pass it around so if i "DO" get in the way then i will be off to jail. If i want to take pictures i need to check in with someone so i dont get in the way. AT this point i am trying to tell him i already talked to an officer and he said i was alright but he did not want to listen and at this point i shut up and let finish what he needs to get out. Last he asked me can i vouch for where i was at and prove what time i got off work. I stated i got computer logs with my log in/out times. The time i badged in and out of my office building with video. Basically his last words where you are hindering my investigation right now because i am having to take time off of speaking to the own of the business that was on fire and having to talk to me

So now my question is was i in the wrong taking pictures for my self, across a 4 lane street and in the parking lot, and not "checking in". Also note that this is also the parking lot where other people are parking/ standing. Yet im the only one with a camera. Yes i do know it is kinda weird that i am there at 1am but i get off at 1am not every one had 9-5 jobs, mine happens to be 4-1am

Oct 24, 2007 02:56

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toofastgtp
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O ya my non professional pics will be up later.

Oct 24, 2007 02:57

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FlyingPhotog
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Sounds like the Fire Marshall (in particular) has seen one too many episodes of CSI. Surely you must be the arsonist...standing front row center watching your handywork.

I hope you got a badge number or at least know which unit(s) was/were there. I'd be on the horn to the offices of the Police Chief, Fire Chief, City Council and Mayor the next morning. The next call would go to a local TV station or better yet, my friendly neighborhood radio talk show.

Oct 24, 2007 03:02

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dgcorner
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If you were on public property then you have every right to take photos. I do hope you got their names/IDs and do as FlyingPhotog says.

Oct 24, 2007 03:28

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toofastgtp
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PS. Some of the pics were also taken on the side walk.
Some pics of fire

I really did not get any badge numbers I know i should have. I did not want to escalate it any further then what was happening. I can always find out who the investigator was by calling and asking. He also stated that he will do a check up, so if he really does call my work they will get his info and i will get it from my security depot at work.

Oct 24, 2007 03:38

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Woolburr
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Somebody was having a bad day...or perhaps they have been watching to much CSI....you should have gotten his ID and contact info, so you could report him to his superiors. A properly trained and knowledgeable investigator would never approach a potential witness or suspect in that fashion. My guess is you got a newly promoted "star" looking to make a name for himself.

Oct 24, 2007 04:10

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twisted ­ pixels
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Sounds like a severe case of Hollywood Paranoia to me! I'm with FlyingPhotog on the CSI episode theory.
I suppose when one is constantly bombarded with suspicion and paranoia 24 hours per day, it has to start showing in all aspects of society.
What happened to the good old days when you could snap away happily in any public place. Now it seems everyone is a potential threat to national security.
What a wacko world we are in!!

Oct 24, 2007 07:34

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stathunter
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I have had similar happen to me. If you just act like you know what you are doing and your rights you will have no problem I tell them to smile because I would like to get their photo. I tell people I work freelance and would like to have this pics on the newspaper.
I started out like you stopping and taking pictures --then I started submitted to news sources and now have "contacts" ---so when I take good pics I moved to the front of the line and they take my call.
Print up a freelance photographer tag and hang it around your neck---it makes you look official and no one messes with you. I have been bold enough to ask police to move out of my way when I am taking photos. They tend to comply......most do not want their mugs in the paper doing nothing during a real event.

Oct 24, 2007 09:35

Scott
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SBCmetroguy
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They can't take you to jail for taking photos at the scene of a fire or police investigation, unless you actually are interfering with the investigation.

Do as I would do and tell them to move the hell out of your way, and threaten to press charges if they screw with you.

Oct 24, 2007 11:05



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Steve ­ Parr
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I gotta’ be honest here: I think it’s kinda’ sad that so many people are willing to dismiss the authorities as having “watched too much CSI”.

These guys are pros. You don’t get to the position of a fire investigator by being bad at your job. Add to that the fact that these guys are experiencing adrenalin overload in situations such as these, and it’s not so freakishly absurd that they might question someone with a camera. Also, the idea that getting badge numbers and names would have any impact, whatsoever, is also pretty funny. Who do you think the person the OP calls is going to side with? Some random amateur photographer, or a fire investigator with, perhaps, 20 years service in the department, and who didn’t violate someone’s “rights”?

I’m not saying that the OP should’ve been hassled in the manner he was, but I can also understand why he was. Also, and this is something every poster here has neglected to mention, we have but one side of the story…

Oct 24, 2007 11:33 as a reply to SBCmetroguy's post 27 minutes earlier.

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Karl ­ C
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Steve Parr wrote in post #4183106external link
I gotta’ be honest here: I think it’s kinda’ sad that so many people are willing to dismiss the authorities as having “watched too much CSI”.

These guys are pros. You don’t get to the position of a fire investigator by being bad at your job. Add to that the fact that these guys are experiencing adrenalin overload in situations such as these, and it’s not so freakishly absurd that they might question someone with a camera. Also, the idea that getting badge numbers and names would have any impact, whatsoever, is also pretty funny. Who do you think the person the OP calls is going to side with? Some random amateur photographer, or a fire investigator with, perhaps, 20 years service in the department, and who didn’t violate someone’s “rights”?

I’m not saying that the OP should’ve been hassled in the manner he was, but I can also understand why he was. Also, and this is something every poster here has neglected to mention, we have but one side of the story…

True, we're hearing only one side and I hear what you're saying. However, Woolburr is retired from the Emergency Services field so I'm inclined to believe him. ;)

Oct 24, 2007 12:05

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Steve ­ Parr
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Karl C wrote in post #4183295external link
True, we're hearing only one side and I hear what you're saying. However, Woolburr is retired from the Emergency Services field so I'm inclined to believe him. ;)

Was Woolburr there? I don't believe so

Ergo, we still only have one side of the story...

Oct 24, 2007 12:19

Steve

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Karl ­ C
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Steve Parr wrote in post #4183379external link
Was Woolburr there? I don't believe so

Ergo, we still only have one side of the story...

Again, I agree with the one-side aspect. My comment was related to Woolburr saying it's possible the Investigator overreacted and that obtaining a name/badge number might be prudent.

It's all good.

Oct 24, 2007 12:22

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TwistedGray
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Oct 24, 2007 12:22

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pjtemplin
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It's not adrenalin overload for them. It's rote boredom. Not that every fire is the same, but darn close in many cases. If it's different for once, they won't even notice you.

I used to be a volunteer firefigher/EMT. Texas has laws regarding red lights (that's the state's color for emergency vehicles), but no laws regarding blue, amber, etc. The cops use red/blue, but it's not regulated as "the police color". I've had a fire chief get accosted on scene by a cop for having flashing red/blue on his personal vehicle. The chief did the right thing by saying "hook me up [he held out his hands for handcuffs] or get off my fire scene". I've heard of other cops issuing tickets to volunteer FFs for having red/blue lightbars, EVEN IF THEY WERE TURNED OFF.

You've got to make the choice at the moment, but if you can, stand up for what's right. Find your state and local laws, print out the relevant portions, learn them, keep them handy, and USE them. If an investigator gives you grief, bring the issue to a point quickly: tell them to name the code that you're violating and to demonstrate the perimeter that you must remain outside to avoid further violations, or to arrest you on the spot. Photograph the person and their badge. If you're lucky like me and have a 1D3, record the audio onto your card as evidence. (Yeah, I like my toys.)

I've done some fire scene photography in San Antonio, though I haven't been real active with it lately. I've got some telnet and webexternal link tools that allow me to know where they're going within two minutes of the dispatch. On several occasions, I've beat the first SAFD unit to the scene. See photos of an apartment patio fireexternal link for an example. No one bothered me, but I am slightly known in the fire community, and had an officemate who's also a volunteer FF who could vouch that he saw the call, told me it was a nearby address, and therefore knew I wasn't involved.

Oct 24, 2007 12:23

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Harassed by police/fire...Help?
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