[News/Video] Police Diligence or Harassment?

I'm not sure if I'm over reacting but this kind of thing get's my blood boiling. What kind of thing? Picture being on an over pass, late one night, shooting a time lapse video (maybe to win the next big Fstoppers contest) when you are approached by a police officer. The officer questions what you are doing and why and then demands your ID. You know that you are observing all the laws and regulation, have commited no crime and are not obligated to justify yourself. What happens next? Well,Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania-based photographer Jason Macchioni can tell you. Better yet, he can show with this video.




Jason Macchioni:"I was shooting a time-lapse which I'm still working on, I arrived at this site around 9 and was there for about 3 hours until these two cops rolled up! At first I was calm and refused to give ID, After the second cop was breathing down my neck and really threatening me. I gave in and tried to get them to leave. Then stuff got heated.

The first officer (Charles Tobias) was nice but just couldn't grasp what I was doing after 4 explanations, He started to become angry when backup arrived, I guess so his fellow cop knew he was tough and could handle me? I gave him my ID even though I knew I didn't have to, to try to make them leave asap, After the second cop (Cleland) notice I was recording become very upset, I guess he doesn't like evidence when he breaks laws and infringes on a citizens rights. He also told me his dash cam and microphone was NOT on. Which I think you must have that on a call like this?

Officer (Harry Cleland) starting saying off camera that "if he wanted to hurt me he would have just came up and did it and stomped my phone and beat me up if he wanted too". I told the officers I wanted to record to protect my self cause a lot of people being "mistreated" by the police. The officer (Celand) said well that's mostly the "blacks" fault, People getting beat up.

He does not know Pa Wiretapping laws at all and my right to record! I have run into this cop before, I was shooting a car accident and this cop said 'If you don't leave, I'm going to confiscate your camera". So now I know he has a record of violating citizens rights!

After the video stops, He (Cleland) went on a rant about people recording cops and thinking "they" know the law and about him thinking "black people are the problem, cause of drugs and crime". They left I took a breath and checked my phone, My heart sank further knowing it didn't catch-all of it. It did catch one thing, Him (Cleland) threatening to arrest me for recording him. Which is against the law, harry cleland

These Cops need to learn the law when it comes to photographers, and I can't wait for my public apology."





Update: Apologize to our readers and my co-writer Mike Kelly, who apparently already posted this topic a few days ago. But seeing how my redudent post has spurred a slew of comments, this post will remain up for those who wish to continue their discussion.
 
via [PetaPixel]
 
From Kenn:
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30 Comments

Love it Ken!!!  Glad you're bringing attention to this.

I've been stopped before by "security guards" while shooting a wedding. Honestly, from this point forward I'm going to keep printed packets on me that I can just hand to whoever. They will contain stacks of case-law and new stories detailing all the civil loses police departments are suffering in court. As long as I'm not shooting a wedding, I will just continue about my business. If they arrest me, then I'll just collect damages from them. Such bull@$#^

Hmmmm, well I think Jason could have approached the situation much differently, and there would not have been an issue.  If he wants to stand there and play "civil rights" with the cops then the atmosphere is likely to get a bit tense.
Show him your ID, explain what's going on, and be cool.  Could be an opportunity to make a new contact, maybe book some work.  Instead he wants to "stir the pot", then cry foul...and "stir the pot" some more.  It's not a delicious stew Jason is making, it is trouble for the next photographer out trying to earn a living.

Sure, everyone can handle every situation better in retrospect, but if we all just give up our rights out of convenience now, then we won't have any left to give up soon. 

Totally agree, this is what you get for being an ass... And posting your vid in order to gain some cheap fame makes you an even bigger ass imo... In the wise words of Jules Winnfield: "Jolanda, Be Cool!"

Matt L's picture

I'm with Royce.  I'm having a tough time siding with Jason on this one.  He seemed to have an attitude from the very first second of the video.  HE already had his phone recording which seems like he may have either been bothered a lot before or wanted to get something on camera.  Why wouldn't the cops stop to ask what you are doing at midnight on an overpass?  The one actually seemed curious for a second what a time lapse was.  But that instantly went away with Jason's attitude again.  Recording issues would have probably never come up with a little polite conversation.

Mike's picture

This EXACT thing happened to me here in VA. I was on a highway overpass doing long exposure photography and a police officer ended up stopping to give me a hard time about it. He ended up taking down notes about what I was doing, calling in my ID for a check on who I was and then sent me on my way. I decided not to give him a hard time and go along with it even though I knew I wasn't doing anything illegal. Luckily I had already been on the overpass for about 15 minutes and ended up getting a cool photo out of it

yep, sorry dude.  you don't pull out the "it's my right" card from the first second. you are doing something akward, just ID yourself, explain without the "i'm smarter then you" attitude. they will be on there way.  NOW if they say, "stop doing your perfectly legit hobby". THEN i'd say pull out your photog rights on them. but you sir started with an attitude. 

They stopped cause someone is doing something akward, that's all, they didn't "target" photog or OMG they are out to get us Photogs.  they stopped because they were doing there job.

And just to show how full of attitude you are, pulling the "my daddy knows your chief..." card.  please. grow up, you sir are why photogs have a hard time.

I kind of fault both parties here. The cops should take "I'm taking pictures of this because I want to." as an answer and be done with it, and the guy doesn't need to agitate the cops more than cops these days already are. It's a hard job, and this kind of thing makes it harder. Also, the dude could learn to articulate himself a bit better: Saying "I can look it up on my phone." is not how I'd argue the legality of my actions.

Most of these videos are photographers who, from the arrival of the police officer, are out to make a point. Not every cop knows every statue of the law. They are often just as misinformed as the everyone else. Show him your id, explain what your doing, and if he wants you to stop or delete pictures, calmly explain to him that under the law (and know the law specifically that your using) you are allowed to photograph in public or whatever your doing. Starting off the encounter hostile is just going to end badly for you. He can take you to jail not the other way around. 

I am in agreement with Royce. I think the cops have a duty to check out what someone is doing on an overpass at midnight. A little less attitude and a quick flashing of an ID and he probably would have been done with it. I have been stopped numerous times filming or shooting and in every instance I have the understanding that the cop is just doing his job, I have cooperated and they have let me continue to do mine.

The problem is that the officer in the video is actually correct in that you are not allowed to film him because you are also recording audio. I just looked up PA wiretapping laws and they are one of the few states that require all parities involved to consent to the recording. Most states only require one party to consent (which would be the person recording). Because this took place in PA you have to have the cops consent as well. Please correct me if I am wrong, but I pulled this information from the ACLU page as well as this link http://www.ncsl.org/issues-research/telecom/electronic-surveillance-laws.... Sorry Jason
.... oh and here is an interesting video on your rights about showing your ID. Even if it is your right to not show your ID... It is almost always a good idea to go ahead and do so. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eV_ANiGk4Sc

I would however like to clarify that Jason did have every right in the world to be taking pictures in the first place.... but the stand he took against the cops over the filming and his unwillingness to show ID was a bad idea. And most likely would not have held up in court.

So I just went from FStoppers to The Strobist and he talks about the same subject, Check out his take.
http://strobist.blogspot.com/2012/02/how-to-avoid-dealing-with-police-wh...

From years of shooting urban snowboarding and skateboarding, I can honestly say that I've probably had more run-ins with cops than anyone on this site.  If there's ONE thing I've learned, it's kill them with kindness.  Even if they start out being pricks, always be humble and respectful.  They deal with mouthy assholes all day long, and if you show them that you're polite and not trying to cause trouble, chances are they'll cut you some slack.  Crack some jokes with them and assure them that you'll be done pretty soon and be out of their hair. 
One time two cop cars rolled up with the full intention of busting up our handrail session and handing out tickets.  After we complied with everything they said and shot the shit with them for a minute, they realized that we were all nice, well spoken guys who weren't out to intentionally cause any trouble.  They ended up hanging out for about an hour and told the filmer and me crazy police stories while the riders continued to hit the rail.  At one point they even pulled out their radar gun to see how fast the guys were going down the rail.  It was awesome.
There are always exceptions, but I didn't feel like these cops were abusing their power at all.  I think that if the photog had just showed his ID, and maybe given the guys a friendly 'timelapse for dummies' type tutorial, this would have been a huge non-issue.  Heck, I'd even bet money that if the photog wasn't such a self righteous, cocky prick, the next time the cops got a call about him they'd just say "eh, it's just Jason shooting his timelapses, no need to go check it out."

Dave, Was that the radar gun scene that wound up in the Absinthe movie?
Anyway...Dave's right about attitude making a big difference, but sometimes no matter how nice you are you're going to have problems with some cops. Knowing your rights is important if the kindness part doesn't work. 

i understand everyone point of view, and i agree it was both of their faults Jason's being a bit cocky and the cops getting upset over nothing even tho he explained what he was doing.

i have a question for anyone who might know... what if i am in a public parking garage and i am photography something and a security guard comes up to me and tells me i have to leave, do i have to leave even tho it's a public garage, say at a train station, and i paid to drive in and park etc? 

Eric Fialkowski's picture

It sounds to me like the garage is a private garage that is open to the public. In that case, the guard probably does have the right to tell you to stop & leave (but not to delete your images.) Around here the garages have notices in them saying that the facilities are for parking only and other uses are prohibited. Mainly to keep out skater boarders but it can apply to photography, too.

You already covered it: 
http://fstoppers.com/video-pennsylvania-photographer-versus-the-law

Besides i think this is bullshit. Having that attitude Jason has against the cops is pure stupid. Since when did being polite became a bad thing?

 Wow! it seems everybody here is ok on giving up their own rights, in order to avoid conflict... way to go!

I think there is a problem with history classes at school. Everybody know what word "communist" means and for many it is equivalent to "terrorist" (which is misused in USA anyway).
In communistic Poland (1944-1989) people were arrested and killed for things like teaching real history. Arrests were made by brainwashed polish police officers.
When in 1989 people stood up for their rights, first reaction of communistic government was to shutdown telecommunication and call for martial law. Many people where killed by police but military didn't open fire to their people.
If American people would have better education, they would be more concerned about giving away their rights or about internet censorship. They would be concerned about major News TV being owned by corporations...
If you think police brutality is a joke take a look what happened in Miami in 2003 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B4FVaHPB_Jw

Thanks to Facebook, YouTube and iPhones police have to be more careful but the problem still exists. 

 To understand what was Miami protest against watch: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AG-pNJISV-8&feature=related

I remember a time when  Fstoppers was about quality... 

It seems like it changed to quantity.

Since a few weeks I noticed that the quality of the posts is getting lower...

 I agree.

It sucks, but I used to watch *every* video.

Now, it's maybe 1/10.  Sometimes 2.  They just can't keep up having 10+ people working here.  Too many cooks spoil the kitchen.

Check out the work that Carlos Miller has been doing.

http://www.pixiq.com/contributors/carlosmiller

Carlos has been fighting for photogs rights. This shit is much more pervasive than many realize.
Guys with guns and badges make up the rules on the fly - you can abdicate your rights or stand up and get arrested - best case - or catch a beating and arrested.

Civil rights? We don't need no stinkin badgezz.

 This guy's just being a douchebag. 

Of course they treat him like that.
Being a fucking dickhead.

And he turns on Approval Only comments, of course he knows he's a self righteous douchebag.

If he showed the officer his ID, and gave a more clear answer of what he was doing, then he wouldn't sound like such a flaming asshat. 

newb asshole: 0
innocent photographers who actually create art: -1
cops +2 for actually looking reasonable in this video.

That video was alright, but is at least somewhat propagandish. 

They aren't taking these from little children.  This is incredibly out of order.   Of course this shit isn't true in France.  He can't get away with pepper spraying minorities?  While he's spraying a white guy?  Fail ACLU.

I know they like to stand for freedom, but sometimes, the world isn't as black and white as they'd like.  They have great ideas, but I feel, just like Peta, an extreme of anything, (is the quickest way to divide our country) is no extreme for me.

Any kind of extreme, is the quickest way to divide our country. 

★✰★Mr. December★✰★'s picture

lucky he wasn't black he would of got the shit beat out of him and thrown onto the highway.

He was being a bit of a dick about it all really, they where asking him for his I.D so they could write it down in there paper work as everything they do has to be logged. All he had to do was say "here it is" and then explained what he was doing and they would have left him alone. 

Roy's picture

this video would have been a hell of 30 sec's long if this Photographer would have not been a Dick and actually cooperated with the officer, but 90% of Photographers think they have a right to act like dick's cause a COP is simply doing their job... .. if after all cooperation fails, then you state your rights, alot of cops are just uniformed or investigating a report made by uniformed citizens..