Writog? A writer-photographer. Citizen journalist. Unless indicated otherwise all content, text and images, here at www.writog.com (C) Copyright 2006 - 2017 Luke T. Bush

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Location: Plattsburgh, New York, United States

Writog: writer-photographer.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Land Of The Free (Just Don’t Take Photos)

Saturday night. August 5, 2006. Approximately 10 PM. I’m hanging around a downtown coffeehouse when I noticed some activity across the street in the parking lot. So I walk over, just wondering what is going on. I stand on the sidewalk, out of the way, while the EMTs and city police do their jobs.

I had my small digital camera with me. I decided to take a few shots. I didn’t use flash (it was too weak to be useful from where I was standing.)

Suddenly an officer of the Plattsburgh Police Department came over and asked to see my photographs on my camera’s LCD screen. I changed the subject, replying that I didn’t know there was a law preventing me from taking any pictures. The officer replied that there wasn’t any law, but someone had been injured and that person wouldn’t want a photograph taken. Blocking my view of the injured person being loaded into the ambulance, he ordered me to move along.

So what’s the problem? Do a few crappy images undermine the investigation? If I had been working for the local newspaper, would I be treated the same way? Does a reporter have more rights than an average citizen?

This is the fourth time I’ve been hassled by the city police when taking photographs at night. On the other occasions I was just shooting scenery, one shot spotlighting an American flag.

What is the Plattsburgh PD afraid of? An amateur photographer with a small point-and-shoot digital camera is a threat?


Anonymous david keys said...

LTB-I can only speak from my own, rather recent encounters with Plattsburgh PD: 911 personnel make every effort to screen calls for help and keep patrol cars "on task" as it were. In other words, the official line is one that strictly limits the activities of police on the street to issues and situations that are within their obligations. The situation/s you describe seem to present the opposite, i.e., patrol officers are taking what seems to be valuable time and effort to obstruct a perfectly legal activity? I suppose my ultimate comment would be one that pleads with police to come over to my house and run the drunks off my driveway and leave the photographer alone!

9:24 AM  

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