Man Arrested For Shooting Photo Of Police Activity

Discussion in 'Digital Cameras' started by Bill Funk, Jul 30, 2006.

  1. Bill Funk

    Bill Funk Guest

    Here's a story about a man arrested for tasking a picture of police
    activity on his cellphone:
    http://www.nbc10.com/news/9574663/detail.html
    Read the story; several things don't make sense, not least of which is
    the claim that no supervisor was on duty.
    Of course, there are two sides to every story, and this one is no
    exception. There is no reference to the 'new law' except to say it
    exists (a competent reporter would have cited the law); the "witness"
    evidently didn't actually see the picture being taken; the man and the
    police have different stories (DUH!).

    I don't see how there can be a law forbidding a person from taking a
    picture of police activity in plain sight.
     
    Bill Funk, Jul 30, 2006
    #1
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  2. Bill Funk

    J. Clarke Guest

    This assumes that the reporter could actually identify the law--the
    Pennsylvania statutes are voluminous and finding things in them quickly
    requires special expertise. Further, it might be a city or local
    ordinance, so there's actually a good deal of research involved to do this,
    more than can reasonably be accomplished before deadline for any but
    possibly the largest news organizations.
    I suspect that the officer exceeded his authority. I also expect that since
    this has gotten national publicity something will be done about it.

    As to how there can be such a law, it's easy. All that has to happen is
    that a majority of legislators vote "aye". Now, whether the courts let it
    stand is another story.
     
    J. Clarke, Jul 30, 2006
    #2
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  3. Bill Funk

    Tom Williams Guest

    It's scare tactics, and intimidation. Too many cops have been caught in
    compromising, and embarrassing moments.

    Tom
     
    Tom Williams, Jul 30, 2006
    #3
  4. Bill Funk

    Bill Funk Guest

    It's far more complicated than that.
    Just taking the vote by the legislators: each has to consider what his
    vote will mean to the voters, not just as far as passing the bill is
    concerned.
    I do think the cop exceeded his authority; as I pointed out, the
    excuse that a super wasn't on duty is absurd.
     
    Bill Funk, Jul 30, 2006
    #4
  5. Today, Celcius made these interesting comments ...
    "Big Brother" has been watching since FISA was updated twice
    since 9/11, the 1947 NSA was updated at least twice since, all
    Federal intelligence and law enforcement activities were
    consolidated under Homeland Security, along with incorrectly
    bundling FEMA in, and finally, the Bill of Rights was abrogated,
    severely abridged, and the 4th Amendment basically destroyed by
    the Patriot Act, which turns out to be an acronym.

    Whether any of us agree with or disagree with the Bush
    Administration's stance on all of this, including the highly
    controversial "wire tapping" of American phone calls and the
    accusation that the NY Times violated the NSA by leaking the
    story about the USA monitoring foreign money transfers, it is
    quite clear that today's post-9/11 world is very different than
    it was prior to about 9:00AM on September 11, 2001.

    Over in alt.binaries.pictures.rail there was a very long, very
    contentious thread about whether a private company can or cannot
    confiscate picture you take of their rail yard from a public
    ridge, and the discussion drifted into whether photography on
    private property is or is not a protected "right". Well, not
    being a Constitutional law attorney, I am an engineer, I do not
    know the answer to these knotty questions of our time.

    But, I do know this: If you are accosted for doing something with
    a camera of /any/ sort, cell phone, P & S, or sophisticated DSLR
    where a legitimate law enforcment officer takes issue or even if
    a private security guard take issue, your best course of action
    is to immediately park your ego, stand down, get polite and very
    contrite, and try to calm down the person accosting you. Absent
    so really sincere humility, some amount of hassle will definitely
    come your way, all the way to a police arrest for anything as
    small as disturbing the peace, misdemeanor photography of a
    police investigation, to felony obstruction of justice or a
    believed attempt to contribute to the crime being investigated,
    planning of a future crime, or the worst of all, the planning or
    execution of a real or perceived terrorist attack.

    The latter is so ill-defined that it is difficult right now to
    even talk about what does or does not constitute an "attack" by a
    common citizen taking a picture with their cell phone camera or
    saying something seemingly innocuos like "gee, here's a good
    example of police brutality in progress!". And, I wouldn't advise
    ya to yell "Big Brother!" if you are in a similar situation.

    So, as to whether it is or is not against the law to take
    pictures of anything, including a police action, only a qualified
    attorney can answer that, but likely, it will become a matter for
    state or federal courts to decide and may wind its way through
    the appellate court system all the way to the Supreme Court,
    which really makes me wonder where the Hell the ACLU has been
    during all of this over the last 4-5 years ...
     
    HEMI - Powered, Jul 30, 2006
    #5
  6. Today, Bill Funk made these interesting comments ...
    Yeas and Nays in two Houses of Congress signify passage or defeat
    of a /bill/, not a law. It doesn't become a law until the
    executive signs it, whether a state governor or the president.
    But, you are entirely correct in that no one really knows what
    the new law does or does not say, exactly how it is applied and
    enforced, and whether it is constitutional or not until at least
    one case comes before a state or federal court. And, under the
    American justice system, a lower court ruling or even jury trial
    decision does not set a precedent. That takes a decision at least
    at the appellate court level or a state or Federal Supreme Court.

    And, laws can be challenged in the general case, individually,
    through certified classes, as in class-action suits, or when one
    side or the other in some controversy decide to go to court, of
    which being arrested is only one way.

    As to whether a police officer or someone higher in the police
    command structure did or did not exceed their authority would
    depend highly - and specifically - on what statute(s) were cited
    by the arresting office, the evidence they used, the degree of
    probably cause, and any potential conflicts between city,
    country, state, and Federal law, not to mention the various
    aspects of state and Federal constitutional law and the
    implementable portions of things like the Patriot Act.

    Now, back to the legislators. In a republic, which is what the
    United States is, it is /not/ a democracy, a legislator is not at
    all bound by his/her constutents to vote the way the people want
    or even the way the candidate said they would whilst running for
    office. Voters then have only two recourses: attempt to remove
    the legislator under appropriate law or congressional rules, or
    vote their ass out of office next election. In some cases, a
    recall election may be applicable, which is how Gov. Gray lost
    his job in Kalyfornia and Arnold Schwazenneger was elected a
    couple years ago.
     
    HEMI - Powered, Jul 30, 2006
    #6
  7. Bill Funk

    Paul J Gans Guest

    Yeah, but it could also be more of the Homeland Security
    nonsense we've seen in recent years. The law in question
    (if it exists) might be designed to keep anti-terrorism
    activity secret.

    While that is laudable, I want my rights back.

    ---- Paul J. Gans
     
    Paul J Gans, Jul 30, 2006
    #7
  8. Bill Funk

    Tom Williams Guest

    I've only read about situations where people claim it's illegal to take
    pictures of this, or that. I haven't seen any laws that clearly spell that
    out, here in the U.S. As far as I know, taking pictures in public places is
    not against the law. Especially while standing on ones own property!

    Does any one have any links to such laws?

    Tom
     
    Tom Williams, Jul 30, 2006
    #8
  9. Bill Funk

    J. Clarke Guest

    How does that make it "more complicated" than a majority vote?
     
    J. Clarke, Jul 30, 2006
    #9
  10. Bill Funk

    J. Clarke Guest

    The quick answer to that one is that if their guards can catch and overpower
    you then they can confiscate pictures you take, and your camera, and your
    clothing, and whatever parts of your body they see fit to remove. That is
    an entirely different issue from whether such an action is _lawful_.
     
    J. Clarke, Jul 30, 2006
    #10
  11. Per HEMI - Powered:
    After all, we don't want any more of that Rodney King nonsense, do we? -)
     
    (PeteCresswell), Jul 30, 2006
    #11
  12. Bill Funk

    ASAAR Guest

    And that's not even taking into consideration presidential signing
    statements, suddenly become numerous, and intentionally (and rather
    clandestinely) used to undermine the bill-become-law just after
    being signed.
     
    ASAAR, Jul 31, 2006
    #12
  13. Today, J. Clarke made these interesting comments ...
    And, the quick answer to that is, it doesn't matter. You are right,
    it only matters what the law is, but in all likelihood, neither the
    person making the search or the searchee knows the complete law as
    applied in their particular instance and resisting will cause you
    nothing but pain, sometimes literally.
     
    HEMI - Powered, Jul 31, 2006
    #13
  14. Bill Funk

    Paul J Gans Guest

    That's correct, if one has the time to invest and the
    money to spend.

    In reality, the police often get their way because it is
    difficult for most individuals to fight.

    ---- Paul J. Gans
     
    Paul J Gans, Aug 6, 2006
    #14
  15. Bill Funk

    ASAAR Guest

    They're probably not too keen on having a camera pointed their
    way. Could also be that sometimes political pressure may allow the
    guilty to get off lightly or completely, and if you provided
    incriminating pictures to the press or to a victim's lawyers, it
    could be hazardous to the career of the officers that didn't
    maintain tight control of the crime or accident scene. Or you
    simply could have run into a cop that's a control freak or a bully.
    I'm sure that most cops aren't like that, but the police force
    attracts certain types, just as the priesthood attracts other types.
     
    ASAAR, Aug 10, 2006
    #15
  16. Bill Funk

    ASAAR Guest

    And my take on this is that the police are pretty much aware that
    most people will never be able to afford a defense team competent
    enough to effectively challenge them in court. More than one judge
    has been known to routinely exclude potential evidence and make
    rulings that just happens to favor the police's side of the case.
    In the real world, what takes place in court doesn't closely
    resemble what is portrayed on TV or by Hollywood.
     
    ASAAR, Aug 10, 2006
    #16
  17. Keep a local reporters phone number or tip line on speed dial of your cell
    phone. Make the call immedidately upon being threatened. :) They MAY find
    that it is more heat than they care to bare.
     
    Thomas T. Veldhouse, Aug 10, 2006
    #17
  18. Your description of the police being friendly and pleasant doesn't exactly
    describe many of the Minneapolis Police department. I posted my run-in with
    on such officer in the street on Hennipen Avenue and about 10th. In summary,
    he comes barrelling out of a garage and cross my path [I was just following
    the traffic laws]. I honked when this "vehicle" pulled out in front of me and
    cut me off so he could take a quick left. It wasn't until after the quick
    reaction of honking and braking that I realize it was a cop. He stops his car
    and gets out and yells at me, "Go ahead and honk at me again". Yeah, right.
    I just answered my apologies [demurely] and drove past his pathetic ass.
    Clearly he was in a hurry to get nowhere as he had time to stop and be a
    bully. I have seen the guy doing the skyway beat many times prior and since,
    so I suspect he is a frustrated individual who no longer has justice in mind.
     
    Thomas T. Veldhouse, Aug 10, 2006
    #18
  19. Bill Funk

    John Ashby Guest

    Surely you want the fellow in a suit sitting next to the folk heading
    *away* from the slammer.

    john
     
    John Ashby, Aug 11, 2006
    #19
  20. Bill Funk

    ASAAR Guest

    What you want to avoid is Cosmo Kramer's personal lawyer unless he
    can come up with an absolutely foolproof winning scheme ... uh,
    strategy.
     
    ASAAR, Aug 11, 2006
    #20
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