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Author Topic: Dealing with the police  (Read 4627 times)


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Re: Dealing with the police
« Reply #20 on: October 05, 2010, 06:01:33 PM »

I find it very ironic that you get harrassed more often if you are carrying around a big DSLR, and especially if you set up on a tripod. It defies logic to think that a terrorist trying to covertly scout a target would draw attention to themselves by using large conspicuous gear and take the time to carefully compose a scene on a tripod.
Because hassling/interrogating every passerby with a point-n-shoot or camera phone would be absurd, not to mention pretty much impossible. On the other hand, hassling the occasional odd-looking fellow with a big camera/tripod gives them something visible they can do to show that they're being vigilant. The fact that it accomplishes absolutely nothing security-wise is not the point (sadly); the point is they can look like they're doing something.


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Re: Dealing with the police
« Reply #21 on: October 09, 2010, 05:29:14 AM »

Ironically the main problems here are not due to terrorism.

I just had a depressing morning trying to take street photographs in the Raval (Barcelona). First I was hassled by drunks roaming the streets at 8am with open cans of beer. Then I was hassled by the police objecting to me taking pictures that might have had some police in them (allegedly you can only do this if you are an acredited periodista, although I think I understand their perspective given that it turned out that they were just concluding a drugs bust...).

Carry a big SLR and you are marked as a target by thieves and drunks as a target for having an expensive camera. Carry a point and shoot and you are marked as a target by theives and drunks as a target for being a tourist.

After three months in Japan I really miss being able to go out at anytime and take photographs without worry.

Slobodan Blagojevic

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Re: Dealing with the police
« Reply #22 on: October 20, 2010, 01:37:53 PM »

... the complaints about photographers getting harassed are invariably from UK and US. It could be that certain nations' photography forums complain about the same thing, but I haven't run into any issues in the countries I frequent....

People tend to complain (publicly) about things that are unusual and unexpected. Where I grew up, most people would't complain about police... it is taken for granted you have less rights than they do.

In other words, incidents in the US (at least) are more like those 'exceptions that prove the rule'. I am not saying they do not happen... and that they do not happen more often than before... or that people should't be complained about them, on the contrary. But they should be put into a proper perspective, i.e., as outliers. Similar things happen with other statistical phenomena: is a recent surge in, say, an illness a result of worsening medical conditions, or perhaps because people feel more comfortable reporting it and have more convenient ways for doing so than before? Or is it, perhaps, yet another example of the so-called "availability bias": bad news get reported in the media, i.e., become "available" to us, while normal (good) stuff does not?

Another point: police encounters are not the whole story. When they do end up in courts, photographers win all of the time (so far). The latest example:

Photographer wins settlement over arrest

Or how about photographing or videotaping police in action directly? Recently, a guy was charged with "wiretapping" after posting a traffic police encounter on YouTube. The public was outraged (rightly), bloggers fumed (rightly), Internet forums mocked "the Land of the Free", proclaiming the arrival of a police state (wrongly). The judge, however, threw out the charge for wiretapping, saying there was no expectation of privacy in this case.

"In this rapid information technology era in which we live, it is hard to imagine that either an offender or an officer would have any reasonable expectation of privacy with regard to what is said between them in a traffic stop on a public highway," the judge wrote.
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