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FORUMS Photography Talk by Genre General Photography Talk 
Thread started 20 Aug 2011 (Saturday) 14:30
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Long Beach Police Chief Confirms Detaining Photographers Within Departmental Policy

 
Nomofica
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Aug 24, 2011 15:54 |  #46

nathancarter wrote in post #12992477 (external link)
If I was driving in an unusual manner, or in an unusual location, or in any other way that seemed suspicious, then I would be fine with a cop stopping me and asking what I was up to. Taking pictures of a refinery is maybe like driving slowly in circles around an abandoned warehouse, or maybe sitting in an empty parking lot at 3AM with the engine running and the dome lights on - it's not illegal, but it's a little odd, and maybe warrants a simple stop-and-identify.

If I'm just driving to the grocery store, same as everybody else, not attracting any attention, then the cop isn't going to pull me over.

Perfectly said. It's dumbfounding how people throw away reason and pull completely different examples from their hats and expect them to be legitimate.

moose10101 wrote in post #12992443 (external link)
Aside from some military installations, do you have an example?

No, the issue was that the PD policy allowed the officers to make an "aesthetic value" judgment. "What" was being photographed should be obvious. "Why" it's being photographed isn't something the photographer is required to answer.


As far as Canada is concerned (I don't live, and rarely do I travel, to the United States, thus my emphasis is not on US law, but rather Canadian law as it is most relevant to me. That being said, the Security of Information Act (R.S.C., 1985, c. O-5) (external link) states that any photographs that could be considered or construed as national secrets, interfere with a large number of Canadian lives, impair or threaten the Canadian Forces, national security or intelligence, or government operations is illegal. As defined by the Act, these "illegal photographs" include subjects of "arsenals, armed forces establishments or stations, factories, dockyards, mines, minefields, camps, ships, aircraft, telegraph, telephone, wireless or signal stations or offices, and places used for the purpose of building, repairing, making or storing any munitions of war or any sketches, plans, models or documents relating thereto, or for the purpose of getting any metals, oil or minerals of use in time of war".

"Why" is definitely something the photographer should answer, within reason (please understand this concept).


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RTPVid
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Aug 24, 2011 16:43 |  #47

In the USA, to detain an individual, the police must have a reasonable suspicion, based on specific and articulable facts, that a person is engaged in criminal activity. It cannot be merely that what the person is doing is unusual or odd, but it can be based on a sequence of things each of which individually might be completely innocent, but which in total, amount to a reasonable suspicion.

The facts behind Terry v Ohio give a good example of actions (walking the streets, looking in store windows, having conversations with passersby, etc.) that by themselves are completely innocent, but taken together result in articulable reasonable suspicion.

On October 31, 1963, while on a downtown beat which he had been patrolling for many years, Cleveland Police Department detective Martin McFadden, aged 62,[1] saw two men, John W. Terry and Richard Chilton, standing on a street corner at 1276 Euclid Avenue and acting in a way the officer thought suspicious. Detective McFadden, who was well-known on the Cleveland police force for his skill in apprehending pickpockets,[2] observed the two proceed alternately back and forth along an identical route, pausing to stare in the same store window. Each completion of the route was followed by a conference between the two on a corner. The two men repeated this ritual alternately between five and six times apiece—in all, roughly a dozen trips. After one of these trips, they were joined by a third man (Katz) who left swiftly after a brief conversation. Suspecting the two men of "casing a job, a stick-up", detective McFadden followed them and saw them rejoin the third man a couple of blocks away in front of a store.

The plainclothes officer approached the three, identified himself as a policeman, and asked their names.

--- from Wikipedia article

Does taking pictures of industrial plants or public buildings satisfy this test? IMO, no, it does not, unless there are OTHER actions that add to the taking of the photos. Hence, IMO (and I'm no lawyer), it would not be a legal "Terry stop" to detain photographers, especially if the reason is to determine their "aesthetic value." Since when is taking bad photos a crime? If the police suspects the photographer of casing the building (as in Terry v Ohio), and he can articulate WHY he thinks that (other than the mere fact of taking a photo), then it WOULD be a legal Terry stop.

On a related matter, the "nothing to hide" comment I find particularly dangerous to individual liberty. I am not required to surrender any of my rights to enable police questioning or searching or whatever, and my refusing to do so does NOT mean I have anything to hide. It merely means I do not wish to surrender my rights.


Tom

  
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Miki ­ G
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Aug 24, 2011 17:31 |  #48

I was approached & questioned by the police while photographing an avenue of trees leading up to a large house. They asked me my name, asked if I had ID, and asked why I was photographing the trees. I showed them the photos on the LCD screen & they left me to continue what I was doing. At first I was a bit annoyed that they approached me while doing something quiet innocent, but then they explained that the housekeeper was nervous when she saw a stranger on CCTV acting in a suspicious (to her) manner. The house was owned by a wealthy horse trainer & there were many expensive horses in the fields beside the trees. I could totally relate to why the lady would feel nervous about my activity.
This whole debate reminds me of an advertisment on TV some years ago, where a guy is running along with a lady's purse & is being followed by 2 uniformed policemen. At first, you think that he has stolen the purse, but as it turns out, he is a detective in pursuit of the actual thief.
Unless you have all the facts, you don't get the complete picture.




  
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BreitlingFan
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Aug 24, 2011 19:39 |  #49
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mmb wrote in post #12992234 (external link)
So you would be fine with a cop pulling your car over and asking for identification just because s/he felt like it? Just happened by and wondered what you were doing?

Doesn't matter if it is a big deal or not. The rules behind a Terry stop are that there has to be reasonable suspicion that a crime has occurred or is about to occur.

Standing in public and taking a picture of ANYTHING is not reasonable suspicion of a crime. Photography is not a crime.

THAT'S what the issue is here.

I love the "Oh, so you wouldn't mind..." arguments. They're silly.

But, silliness notwithstanding:

If I was simply driving down the street, there wouldn't be any reason a rational individual would conclude that I am committing, have committed, or am about to commit, a crime. However, if I was taking pictures of a refinery, such as the individual mentioned in the OP was doing, I wouldn't be at all surprised if a cop came over to ask me a few questions. Only an irrational person would.

Seriously, people need to lighten up. Some people act like being asked a couple of questions by a cop is the equivilant to being handcuffed and thrown face-first into the pavement.

It's not. It's a cop doing his job.

You're exactly correct; photography is not a crime. If you can show me where the photographer mentioned in the OP was charged with a crime, I'll be happy to stipulate that you are right and I am wrong.

But, of course, I'm not wrong...


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moose10101
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Aug 24, 2011 21:20 |  #50

BreitlingFan wrote in post #12994034 (external link)
You're exactly correct; photography is not a crime. If you can show me where the photographer mentioned in the OP was charged with a crime, I'll be happy to stipulate that you are right and I am wrong.

But, of course, I'm not wrong...

That photographer was detained (i.e. the officer suspected a crime had been or would be committed) simply because he was taking photographs. It's sad that you don't see a problem with that.




  
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mmb
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Aug 24, 2011 21:49 |  #51

BreitlingFan wrote in post #12994034 (external link)
You're exactly correct; photography is not a crime. If you can show me where the photographer mentioned in the OP was charged with a crime, I'll be happy to stipulate that you are right and I am wrong.

But, of course, I'm not wrong...

A Terry stop, by law, requires suspicion of a crime. All the subject was doing was making a photograph, in the open in a public place.

If the act of making a photo in public is enough suspicion of a crime to warrant the stop, even without detention, then something is wrong.




  
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quiksquirrel
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Aug 24, 2011 22:05 |  #52

moose10101 wrote in post #12994633 (external link)
That photographer was detained (i.e. the officer suspected a crime had been or would be committed) simply because he was taking photographs. It's sad that you don't see a problem with that.

You just really want to find a way to make the police officer the bad guy, so you beat your little "My rights are being trampled" drum, right..

The whole story is basically word against word, with only the photographer talking. And he is doing all he can to look like a poor helpless victim.
The entire article is little more than a few statements from the PD and the photographer calling it lies.

You don't have all the facts. Non of us does. But who cares about fact, when half truths and hearsay is so much better for making a scandal out of nothing.

Just for laughs, lets put this into a different perspective.
Who has the most to gain from this? The PD? or the pretty close to unknown photographer/painter/s​culptor/musician/write​r/journalist/poet/audi​o engineer/arts advocate, who fit the profile of someone looking for his 15 minutes of fame?




  
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BreitlingFan
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Aug 24, 2011 22:17 |  #53
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moose10101 wrote in post #12994633 (external link)
That photographer was detained (i.e. the officer suspected a crime had been or would be committed) simply because he was taking photographs. It's sad that you don't see a problem with that.

Where's the indication that the officer suspected any of that? Is simply asking someone some questions the equivilant of suspecting someone of a crime? Because that's the position you've taken.

The photographer was asked a couple of questions. There's no problem with that.

Of course, I could dismiss reason and rationale and claim that the photographer's rights were being violated but, again, that would be silly...


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Nomofica
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Aug 24, 2011 23:13 |  #54

moose10101 wrote in post #12994633 (external link)
That photographer was detained (i.e. the officer suspected a crime had been or would be committed) simply because he was taking photographs. It's sad that you don't see a problem with that.

Detained as defined by the department. He was not arrested, nor was he charged. He was questioned.


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mmb
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Aug 25, 2011 07:44 |  #55

BreitlingFan wrote in post #12995020 (external link)
Where's the indication that the officer suspected any of that? Is simply asking someone some questions the equivilant of suspecting someone of a crime? Because that's the position you've taken.

No, that's the position the Police Department has taken. To legally make a Terry stop, the officer must have a reasonable suspicion that a crime has been committed or is going to be committed. Asking you a couple questions about your gear or comments about the subject wouldn't be a Terry stop. Asking for identification and reason for being in the place would be a Terry stop.

It's not a big distinction but it is the difference between a question and a demand for papers. That the presence of a camera makes it justifiable to the Department to classify it as a Terry stop is ludicrous. Is it the size of camera that pushes it over into suspicious activity? Brand? Canon shooters wouldn't be terrorists but those Olympus users are all ()*&(?

Nomofica wrote in post #12995315 (external link)
Detained as defined by the department. He was not arrested, nor was he charged. He was questioned.

Detained as defined by US Supreme Court ruling.
http://en.wikipedia.or​g/wiki/Terry_v._Ohio (external link)




  
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RTPVid
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Aug 25, 2011 09:07 |  #56

What some of you don't seem to understand is that the term "detained" has a legal definition and requires that the police meet certain criteria as defined by the constitution and the Supreme Count before they can detain anyone. This quote is what I take issue with:

Police Chief Jim McDonnell has confirmed that detaining photographers for taking pictures "with no apparent esthetic value" is within Long Beach Police Department policy.

If, indeed, that is their policy, then their policy is unconstitutional. Taking pictures "with no apparent esthetic value" is NOT "a reasonable suspicion that the person has committed, is committing, or is about to commit a crime" as required by the Supreme Court.

Perhaps the Chief was using the term "detained" sloppily, but since he is a police chief, I doubt it. He knows exactly what the word means and when police are allowed to detain an individual. He is trying to claim that taking photos "without apparent esthetic value" (as defined by the individual cop) is reasonable suspicion of criminal activity.

No, it isn't.


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MattPharmD
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Aug 25, 2011 09:26 |  #57

Sort of a +1 for the post above.

I think there is some confusion among the discussers here (especially those with strong feelings) about "detained" vs "asked questions." Some here seem to be equating them, while others are viewing them as distinct entities.

Both can be correct. Often we think that if an officer speaks to us and asks us questions, we are being detained. In actuality, unless the officer felt he has met the conditions for a Terry Stop you probably can just walk away (ask "am I free to go?").

If the Chief is speaking of "stop and ask questions," I think most of us are in agreement. There is no inherant harm in this, and no violation of rights has occured. If he is using "detained" in the legal sense (a Terry Stop), then we are talking about something much more than just asking questions.


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moose10101
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Aug 25, 2011 09:32 |  #58

quiksquirrel wrote in post #12994939 (external link)
You just really want to find a way to make the police officer the bad guy, so you beat your little "My rights are being trampled" drum, right.

BreitlingFan wrote in post #12995020 (external link)
Where's the indication that the officer suspected any of that? Is simply asking someone some questions the equivilant of suspecting someone of a crime? Because that's the position you've taken.

The photographer was asked a couple of questions. There's no problem with that.

Nomofica wrote in post #12995315 (external link)
Detained as defined by the department. He was not arrested, nor was he charged. He was questioned.

I suggest that the three of you read mmb's and RTPVid's posts and try to understand that the word detained has a specific legal meaning, at least in the USA, where Long Beach is located. It does not mean that the police just asked some questions, no matter how hard the three of you try to give it that meaning.

And if the police officer detained (in the legal definition of the word) the photographer for the reasons described by the police chief, he is the bad guy.

MattPharmD wrote in post #12996974 (external link)
If the Chief is speaking of "stop and ask questions," I think most of us are in agreement. There is no inherant harm in this, and no violation of rights has occured. If he is using "detained" in the legal sense (a Terry Stop), then we are talking about something much more than just asking questions.

Agree on all points.




  
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BreitlingFan
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Aug 25, 2011 12:05 as a reply to  @ moose10101's post |  #59
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It's profoundly clear that a lot of people here have a problem with a cop asking them questions.

What did the cop do to "detain" the photographer? Ask him to identify himself?

Dear Lord, what IS this world coming to?

Someone who has a serious problem with that is someone who, quite honestly, is probably a bit too hypersensitive to function properly in public...


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moose10101
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Aug 25, 2011 12:14 |  #60

BreitlingFan wrote in post #12997866 (external link)
It's profoundly clear that a lot of people here have a problem with a cop asking them questions.

:rolleyes:




  
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