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Taking Pictures of Police Officers in Uniform

Ed Chambers , Jun 16, 2010; 10:14 p.m.

Greetings All,
A friend from Canada and I spoke this evening, and he raised an issue of concern that I was ignorant about. As I recall some one informed him that 12 US States have local statutes that prohibit Police in uniform from being photographed. Is this accurate? I did a Photo.net search and located this:
http://photo.net/street-documentary-photography-forum/00ImQP

Local and State Laws change so often that ignorance when dealing with someone who can arrest you at will is not a good thing for a street Photog to be ignorant about: especially if you are from Canada visiting . . . SO: Anyone know of such States Rights Laws we need to be aware of so as to prevent miscommunication from all concerned. Thanks in Advance for any and all lucid factual info.

Responses


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Matt Laur , Jun 16, 2010; 10:20 p.m.

Out of curiosity, is your intention to travel about, photographing police officers on the job?

Brad - , Jun 16, 2010; 10:53 p.m.

Have not heard about any statutes prohibiting photography.

Your friend could be talking about making audio recordings where the two party rule for consent is still required, even when one of the parties is a police officer.

If in doubt, just ask...

Ed Chambers , Jun 16, 2010; 10:57 p.m.

No, if that were the case I would be being paid, and I get paid to take pictures of some people who do not really exist unless you know what they do. I have a Canadian friend who is going to Massachusets for Holiday, and someone informed him he better not take any pictures of ANY Police Officer in any vacation picture when he goes out and about while he is on vacation. In the spirit of friendship to my Canadian photog friend, he asked me to find out, so I made this post.
Matt on a related some what off topic note; it is good to see you again. The last time we communicated you were going to shoot a funeral @ The National Cemetary.

Ed Chambers , Jun 16, 2010; 11:13 p.m.

No, if that were the case I would be being paid, and I sometimes get paid to take pictures of some people who do not really exist unless you know what they do and they ask me to take their picture as I endeavor to serve the Greater Good.
I have a Canadian friend who is going to Massachusets for Holiday, and someone informed him he better not take any pictures of ANY Police Officer in any vacation picture when he goes out and about while he is on vacation. In the spirit of friendship to my Canadian photog friend, he asked me to find out, so I made this post. My friend Andre waas told that there were 12 US States that have a new ordinace since 9/11 that prohibits even inadvertant photgraphs and if you are found in violation of the ordinance; that an arrest is possible. I thought this was an urban internet obfuscation of reality; however I did want to verify since I reside in Maryland.

Matt on a related some what off topic note; it is good to see you again. The last time we communicated you were going to shoot a funeral @ The National Cemetary.

Sanford Edelstein , Jun 16, 2010; 11:46 p.m.

If the U.S. is becoming a "police state" as many people believe it is, why go out of your way to antagonize these authority figures? What are you trying to prove? Leave them alone and they will leave you alone.

Leslie Cheung , Jun 17, 2010; 12:06 a.m.

Personally, I find cops in uniforms to be poor subjects. And they, if wanted to, can arrest you on any BS charges...like disorderly conduct. Of course, you may have legal "law book rights" on your side and fight it etc...but, then, your vacation is ruined. The ability to gauge their mannerism, interactions, gestures and their ego is as important as what the "law" says, if not more.

What I would be worrying about more is plain clothes cops:))

Brad - , Jun 17, 2010; 12:11 a.m.

I photograph cops all the time. Zero problems. Then on the other hand, I don't start off with a bias based on others' preconceived notions. Attitude and behavior will carry you far. Or not...

Ed Chambers , Jun 17, 2010; 04:41 a.m.

I agree with Brad:

Attitude is almost everything, and how one postures themselves goes a long way to determining their future. There are bad apples everywhere; INCLUDING Photographers. Looking at Brad's portfolio illustrates the truth of his words. I think on occasion almost everything is worthy of a good subject. On the subject of plain clothes cops - I have found and witnessed - they are plain clothes for a reason - and if you do not give them one - you will be left to go as you please. my .02 namaste~

Matt Laur , Jun 17, 2010; 06:08 a.m.

I suspect that Brad is right, and that the issue being (badly) conveyed here is the recording of people. A recent local case, here in Maryland, brought that into the news. I suspect it won't ultimately go anywhere, because that law doesn't apply in public, per se. Maryland is a strange place.

Regardless, it really is all about how you come across. Confrontational? Furtive? Of course you'll piss off a cop (or anyone, for that matter). That doesn't mean you're in legal trouble, but it sets the stage for an unpleasant exchange. So, be pleasant, think about whether you're appearing deliberately shady/provocative or simply touristy, and don't sweat it otherwise.


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