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Thread started 20 Aug 2011 (Saturday) 14:30
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Long Beach Police Chief Confirms Detaining Photographers Within Departmental Policy

 
BreitlingFan
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Aug 21, 2011 14:56 |  #16
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Woodworker wrote in post #12973022 (external link)
To sum things up BF, there are too many people eager to preach about rights instead of responsibilities.

David

You're preaching to the choir, Dave.

Too many people are concerned more with what you can do instead of what you should do...


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Aug 21, 2011 14:57 |  #17

This is a pointless debate. There's a fine line between being a good proactive cop and infringing on someone's rights, and it takes training and common sense and the will to do the right thing. You can't come up with a single rule on how police should behave in every situation - just general guidelines. I don't want police denying me my rights just as much as I don't want them to be afraid to do what it takes to protect me from the criminals.

I live in a fairly well to do suburb of Metro Detroit. A couple weeks ago I was driving home late at night, probably around 2am, and a couple of blocks away from my home, I caught up with a beat up Buick full of young black kids in flashy get-ups, driving at 30mph on a 50 mph road (not a violation). A couple of minutes later they were pulled over. So, was it an example of racial profiling and violating their constitutional right, or was it an example of this cop being proactive, seeing that they were obviously not from around here and looked like they were prowling the neighborhood looking for something ?


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ssim
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Aug 21, 2011 15:10 |  #18

Woodworker wrote in post #12973022 (external link)
there are too many people eager to preach about rights instead of responsibilities.

David

I like that statement. In this particular case I don't see much news in here. Most of us know that we run the chance of being stopped. Personally I would hope that they would error on the side of caution and question anyone who may look suspicious. If the police did nothing and then something happens we will jump all over them. They are in a position where they are damned if they do and damned if they don't. It must have been a slow news day in Long Beach. What is the difference between this and someone that is traffic stopped for a simple check. Show your ID, they run you through the computer and you go on your merry way, just as the photographer did in this case.

On the other hand there are valid cases where the police have been too heavy handed in dealing with photographers. In those cases they deserve every bit of criticism that comes their way. Then there are the photographers who like to push it for the sake of their one minute of internet fame. They may not have intended to get stopped but once they do they seem to push the envelope by challenging the police to their right in stopping them in the first place.

The world is weird place these days. I for one will (and have) be happy to answer questions as to what I am doing. My experience is that if you are polite and courteous with them you will be moving along in no time with not problems.


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BreitlingFan
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Aug 21, 2011 15:16 |  #19
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I'm willing to bet that, had the guy been taking pictures of a harbor seal, he wouldn't have been questioned. The article, however, states that he was taking photos of a refinery.

I don't think it's out of line for a cop to say to himself "Huh. Lemme' go see what that guy's up to".

My take on the whoe thing: There are those people who will absolutely fault the police officer. By and large, these people usually tend to have a problem with the police in general, and their problems with the police may actually have nothing to do with photography...


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miniphotog
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Aug 21, 2011 16:09 |  #20

Personally, I don't have an issue with the officers behavior. What struck me, and I thought of interest of others here, was the LB policy.

I would clearly be more interested in discussing rights & civil liberties than responsibilities. Most responsibilities discussed are more subjective than objective as the law should be.

Those that bring up being thankful that a police force has teeth and references what recently happened in London, I offer you this - They are not mutually exclusive - You can (and we do) give our police department the tools and authority to stop a riot and still expect them to protect the first amendment. Maybe I misunderstand you as this thread has gone in a few directions, but I think that is what you're saying.




  
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Aug 21, 2011 16:36 |  #21

miniphotog wrote in post #12973550 (external link)
You can (and we do) give our police department the tools and authority to stop a riot

But we don't give them all the tools. Implantation of RFIDs with GPS chips and a small amount of memory would really help them identify such criminals. The process is fast and simple, and the only people who could possibly protest are those with something to hide. It's a small step beyond having CCTV and PNCR cameras tracking everybody's movements.


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quiksquirrel
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Aug 21, 2011 16:53 |  #22

hollis_f wrote in post #12973656 (external link)
It's a small step beyond having CCTV and PNCR cameras tracking everybody's movements.

If you seriously believe that those things are there to "track your movement", I would strongly suggest finding a professional to talk to about paranoia issues.

We all get that you dislike authority. Many people who don't have any, do. But try to keep things in perspective.




  
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Miki ­ G
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Aug 22, 2011 03:01 |  #23

The police are there to protect us from all types of criminality & sometimes it's our own actions as photographers that are seen by the officer as being suspicious. The police would be negligent if they ignored photographers in all situations where their suspicions were arised just because it might offend the photographer. If the photographer is genuine, he/she shouldn't have any problems.
On the point of the LB police departmental policy, this must also be in line with the constitution or it would itself be unlawful.




  
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Aug 22, 2011 09:14 |  #24

Nomofica wrote in post #12969962 (external link)
We're talking about the simple act of being asked what you're up to, not having a home searched for evidence.

Try and keep things relevant. :rolleyes:

Your statement, "an innocent person has nothing to hide", has been used by just about every person who wanted to curtail constitutional rights. That makes my question relevant. Care to answer it?




  
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MattPharmD
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Aug 22, 2011 11:43 |  #25

I think that this is no minor issue. Of course, we look at this from a photographer's perspective, and I don't like the idea that my hobby is being viewed as inherently suspicious. The idea that terrorists go around using DSLR's in broad daylight to take scouting photos is a little odd and completely unproven. I would think it much more likely that they would use a P&S or something extremely small.

The other issue here is how much authority do police have to question you. I think that a blanket denial to answer all questions might be unwise (although not technically illegal in most of the US). However, we must monitor any movement between questions that we "should" answer, and questions that we "must" answer.

I think Ben Franklin said it best, "They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety." In my opinion, those things granted to us by the Bill of Rights are our "essential liberities." It is not this policy that I feel infringes on my liberties, but the attitude behind it certainly has led to the infringment of other photog's essential liberties.


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argyle
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Aug 22, 2011 14:21 as a reply to  @ MattPharmD's post |  #26

Gotta disagree...its not a big deal, nor is it a major issue. Let's face it...someone taking pictures of a refinery is not something one sees every day. Sunset, maybe...refinery, no. The photog was checked out, everything was kosher, and he was allowed to continue. Your quote from Franklin is a favorite that seems to get trotted out whenever this topic comes up...no matter the context.


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Aug 22, 2011 14:53 |  #27
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argyle wrote in post #12979349 (external link)
Gotta disagree...its not a big deal, nor is it a major issue. Let's face it...someone taking pictures of a refinery is not something one sees every day. Sunset, maybe...refinery, no. The photog was checked out, everything was kosher, and he was allowed to continue. Your quote from Franklin is a favorite that seems to get trotted out whenever this topic comes up...no matter the context.

Exactly.

Being subjected to some cursory questioning by a police officer is hardly equitable to giving up ones' rights...


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MattPharmD
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Aug 22, 2011 16:18 |  #28

I wasn't saying that this particular incident (the refinery) was a violation of rights or liberties. I also didn't mean to imply that any passing questioning by police is a violation of rights.

I am happy to talk to police when they ask me questions as I often have my camera pointed at some strange things. The problem I have that is brought up by this story is the policy in place by the long beach police.

First, the policy as quoted in this story implies that officers are asked to determine if a photo has the potential for aesthetic value. I am not really sure what this will mean in the future. If the policy asked the officers to determine if the subject was potentially suspicious, that would make more sense. Aesthetic value is in the eye of the beholder, and is sometimes unknown until after we get home to do some PP. I would say that the Refinery might be a suspicious subject, but the value of the photos shouldn't be a consideration.

Secondly, the policy seems to allow the officer to "detain" the photographer. There is a large step taken between casual questioning and detention. If the policy stated that officers should investigate, question, or evaluate subjects that were taking "suspicious photos" that would be a reasonable reaction. Detention means that I am not allowed to leave. I am not sure that this is necessary, and I am afraid that this is a policy that will lead to a violation of someone's liberty. Not that the policy in and of itself, or the questioning of photographers is a violation.

I brought up the Franklin quote because some posters seemed to imply that this kind of action by police is all for security and is thus worth the inconvenience. I wanted to remind everyone that "preventing terrorism" is not always a good reason for increased security. The line that prevents further security must always be at the point of not violating a single liberty.


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Aug 22, 2011 17:37 |  #29

You know, I don't recall the details, but I seem to remember that US courts have upheld the right of LEOs to require the ID of an individual, meaning that if one refuses, things could get nasty, and also meaning that for some finite time the individual is being "detained".

Maybe someone familiar with the specifics could fill in the blanks, post a site? Or, if you are really familiar with the facts and can provide a reference, tell me that I'm wrong?


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Aug 22, 2011 18:14 |  #30

Trying to answer your question...but don't have a lot of details...

Some states have stop and identify laws. That means that at minimum you have to give your name to an officer that asks. These laws do not require that you present any kind of identification.

In states that do not have "stop and identify" laws mean that you only have to answer that question if you are being detained (think Terry stop).

The wikipedia entry is a good one here without me just repeating it.
http://en.wikipedia.or​g …top_and_identif​y_statutes (external link)


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Long Beach Police Chief Confirms Detaining Photographers Within Departmental Policy
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