Letter To The Editor - Re: Police & Photography
Here's a copy of a letter I recently emailed to a couple of local newspapers. Of course, some viewers of this blog are probably tired of this topic. Then again, I'm tired of being hassled by some protectors of the public. While the majority of officers are OK, it only takes an extreme few to provoke an "extreme" response from me.
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It’s a Jekyll or Hyde situation. Usually the officers of the Plattsburgh Police Department are helpful and respectful. One time I had a problem with an unleashed dog that almost bit me. The officer looked into the incident and spoke with the owner. He was professional, promptly taking care of the matter.
But on other occasions I’ve encountered officers who treat me like a criminal suspect just because I’m taking photographs during the nighttime. One officer pulled up next to me in his patrol car to confront me. “It’s unusual for someone to be photographing a gas station 12:30 in the morning,” he commented sternly.
Really. Well, I like to take images of buildings and stores at night. Night scenes can be very interesting, especially with the intense colors of illuminated signs and neon lights. More recently I was shooting a scene with a parked ambulance, staying out of the way on a public sidewalk, in no way interfering with the police or the EMT crew. I wasn’t using a flash. But an officer walked up, blocked my view, and told me to move on, even though he admitted there was no law stopping me from taking any photographs.
I have been hassled for taking photographs on four different occasions. I am in within my rights to pursue my hobby –- especially when I’m taking a picture of an American flag. I have contacted city officials about this matter and have only received deafening silence in response.
I am not lurking in the shadows when taking photographs. I’m in plain sight. It’s obvious what I’m doing. Or do some police officers think that when I’m standing there with a camera atop a tripod, that I’m getting ready to launch a cruise missile at the White House?
Luke T. Bush