bad Day at 42nd St

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kevikens
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Joined: Fri Mar 12, 2004 9:24 am

bad Day at 42nd St

Post by kevikens » Sun May 15, 2011 6:06 pm

First my newly puchased $10 Metro Card would not work and kept indicating "swipe again', endlessly. That should have been an omen. I took out a camera from a bag and went to photograph a stopped S shuttle train. Two oficers immediately accosted me with "photography of subway trains is forbidden" and threatened me with a summons. I knew they were mistaken but did not have a copy of section 1050.9 on me so I merely suggested that they were mistaken. No sir, you can only take pictures at the transit museum. Ok, officers and I identified myself and put the camera away so no summons, but jeez how hard is it for Police Officers to know the laws and regulations that they are to enforce? Can't the NYPD just tell oficers of the MTA regulations? I know of the heightened alert right now and if the officers had just said something like " Sir, because of the heightened alert right now we would appreciate it if you were to forego your photography for a week or so or, perhaps, go to a less conspicupus spot than Times Square" I would have been apologetic for creating a stir but when they announce themselves with "photography of subway trains is forbidden" my response is bound to be an unhappy one. I once had a position of authority where I had to enforce rules and regulations. I had to know them and if i tried to incorrectly enforce some regulation I would have been in big trouble. I sent a complaint to the NYPD, quoting the MTA regulation on photography and explaining my experience. I'll let you know if there is a response. PS I also wrote to the MTA for my money back on the Metro Card

Head-end View
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Re: bad Day at 42nd St

Post by Head-end View » Sun May 15, 2011 8:53 pm

Yes Kev, I for one would be very interested in hearing what kind of response you get. In your complaint, did you give complete info i.e. officers names, badge numbers, time and place etc? As well as stating that you have a real problem with being lied to by supposedly responsible public officials who should know better? I'm half surprised you didn't ask them to just give you the summons to see what ordinance or law they would charge you with. (chuckle!)

kevikens
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Re: bad Day at 42nd St

Post by kevikens » Mon May 16, 2011 7:44 am

Head End: I actually did think of making a big stink of this but unfortunately I was close to a luncheon date with my daughter who was in town from San Francisco. You are right that getting their badge numbers would have been wise but I feared that noting them could have escalated the incident to a disorderly person's offense or maybe even a resisting arrest charge. I was by myself at a location where there would have been few witnesses, lots of cops all over the place and who among the hurrying passengers would have stopped and been witnesses willing to give statements or show up in court? There actually was a bit more to this that I did not write on my complaint because of the 150 word limit. One of the police officers was a very young person. I am guessing a rookie having been paired up with a more seasoned officer. The rookie was pleasant, always smiled and never said a word deferring to her older colleague. I think the older officer was using me as an opportunity to show the rookie how to operate, how to intimitate suspects, if you will. The older officer was , to make this short, nasty. I did not think it would take much to get her into the "let's kick butt' routine and they were the ones with night sticks and 9 milimeters. For most of my life I had always respected the police believing them to be the guardians of the public weal but my recent experiences, almost always involving railfanning, have left me with a visceral fear of a police encounter. There was a time when I would be railfanning in an "iffy" part of town and I would spot a police presence and feel relieved to know there were police around but now I have come to more fearful of law enforcement than the inhabitants of the "iffy" neighborhoods. Again, I'll let you know what i hear from the NYPD if they respond.

Patrick Boylan
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Location: Here is a stupid picture, pay attention to me. Burlington Township, NJ 08016

Re: bad Day at 42nd St

Post by Patrick Boylan » Mon May 16, 2011 11:28 am

Head-end View wrote:lied to by supposedly responsible public officials who should know better?
That's an excellent phrase, I'm going to try to remember it and look for a way to use it in conversation.
Head-end View wrote: I'm half surprised you didn't ask them to just give you the summons to see what ordinance or law they would charge you with. (chuckle!)
Reminds me of a scene in Schindler's list, something on the order of Schindler got arrested, then released, he commented that he would have been surprised if anybody could have shown him the specific law on which he was supposed to have been arrested.
kevikens wrote:I actually did think of making a big stink of this
...
they were the ones with night sticks and 9 milimeters.
Unfortunately it's usually better to do exactly what the nice person with the gun wants.
I haven't photographed much in my life, either on September 10th or after September 11, and haven't gotten many railfan-police encounters either good or bad. I have fantasized, and please understand this is only fantasy, of using my cell phone and calling 911 to say something like "there are some police impersonators who are making up laws to hassle me"

Head-end View
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Re: bad Day at 42nd St

Post by Head-end View » Mon May 16, 2011 12:15 pm

Pat and Kev, I completely agree with you guys. I too have pretty much looked at police as the good guys, and I still mostly believe that. All the more reason I would feel let down by them falsely stating that something is illegal when it's not. And true, it is better to avoid a confrontation in these situations. Though you can mentally note an officer's nameplate without being obvious about it. Very good observation re: the rookie and the veteran. I also would not want the rookie to get summarily fired because of a complaint being made, if he/she was misled by their field training officer.

Myself, I have largely discontinued taking many rail photos, though I took a lot in the pre-9/11 era. I must confess I don't want to get into one of these situations with police, because I tend to be very blunt and I'm not sure I could politely contain myself. I might end up telling them they're full of B/S, and get carted away in handcuffs. Even if taking photos is not illegal they could charge you with disorderly conduct or "obstructing governmental administration" which is another catch-all they can use. Though it might get dismissed in court.

When I said about letting them give you the summons, I was thinking of a case in New Jersey a few years back. Local township police had falsely arrested 2 guys for taking freight railroad photos. They went to court with a lawyer and the police and court tried to get them to accept a plea-bargain to something like dis-con. But the lawyer said no way and demanded a trial on whatever charges they were arrested for. Bottom line being the municipality ended up with egg on their face for falsely arresting people for breaking laws that didn't exist.

Allan
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Re: bad Day at 42nd St

Post by Allan » Mon May 16, 2011 12:18 pm

kevikens wrote:First my newly puchased $10 Metro Card would not work and kept indicating "swipe again', endlessly. That should have been an omen. I took out a camera from a bag and went to photograph a stopped S shuttle train. Two oficers immediately accosted me with "photography of subway trains is forbidden" and threatened me with a summons. I knew they were mistaken but did not have a copy of section 1050.9 on me so I merely suggested that they were mistaken. No sir, you can only take pictures at the transit museum. Ok, officers and I identified myself and put the camera away so no summons, but jeez how hard is it for Police Officers to know the laws and regulations that they are to enforce? Can't the NYPD just tell oficers of the MTA regulations? I know of the heightened alert right now and if the officers had just said something like " Sir, because of the heightened alert right now we would appreciate it if you were to forego your photography for a week or so or, perhaps, go to a less conspicupus spot than Times Square" I would have been apologetic for creating a stir but when they announce themselves with "photography of subway trains is forbidden" my response is bound to be an unhappy one. I once had a position of authority where I had to enforce rules and regulations. I had to know them and if i tried to incorrectly enforce some regulation I would have been in big trouble. I sent a complaint to the NYPD, quoting the MTA regulation on photography and explaining my experience. I'll let you know if there is a response. PS I also wrote to the MTA for my money back on the Metro Card
The NYPD has its own directive to their officers regarding photography in the subway. It is called Operations Order 14 and you can see it here (save the file, print it and carry it along with MTA 1050.9):
http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2337/354 ... 700c_b.jpg

(I posted this in in a thread back in 2009. It was placed at the top of this section by the administrators) http://railroad.net/forums/viewtopic.php?f=68&t=61757

Obviously these officers didn't bother to read it or are ignoring it or just wanted to give you a hard time.

kevikens
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Joined: Fri Mar 12, 2004 9:24 am

Re: bad Day at 42nd St

Post by kevikens » Mon May 16, 2011 12:32 pm

Thanks, Allan. I downloaded the file and have placed it in my camera bag along with the MTA directive. I just hope I don't get shot while reaching for it.

Head-end View
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Re: bad Day at 42nd St

Post by Head-end View » Mon May 16, 2011 6:14 pm

Hmmm...............So let's assume that Kev had that document with him, and showed it to the officers. What would have happened then? Maybe they'd say it was phony? Regrettably, I don't think it would be that simple.............

Has anyone here done this? Showed that Patrol Guide directive or the MTA's policy directive to police? And how have the officers reacted, when you showed it to them?

kevikens
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Joined: Fri Mar 12, 2004 9:24 am

Re: bad Day at 42nd St

Post by kevikens » Wed May 18, 2011 9:19 am

Head End View; to answer your question I Googled "Is photography of subways illegal". and apparently some guy in Feb of 2010 in NYC did just that. When accosted he pulled out a copy of the MTA regulations to show the police. For his efforts (and presumed effrontery) he was cuffed and arrested and charged with several garbage (and bogus) offenses. Though ultimately the charges were dropped he had the humiliation and aggrevation of being taken into custody and hiring an attorney to represent himself. I wonder if the the police officers were in any way disciplined for this? If John Q. Citizen breaks a law because he does not know about it he cannot claim innocence because, as we all know, "Ignorance of the law is no excuse". How is it that law enforcement officials can blatantly violate an individual's civil rights and not be charged with an offense themselves? It does no good to sue the city or the NYPD as it does not impact on the individual miscreants, the ignorant and officious officers. There is something very wrong, deeply disturbing, to me at any rate, of allowing law enforcement to get away with the very evil thay are supposed to be protecting us from, terrorizing us into submission. I know some reading this posting may see it as little more than an annoying rant but until you look into the face of a uniformed, grimmacing, gun toting. official 18 inches from your face, a face on someone anxious to prove machismo and demonstrate his mojo to his partner, you have not experienced fear. I wish there was someway to once and for all get it through to the NYC PD that photography of trains, subways or commuter trains, is legal and we railfans are not felons. One last point, not to belabor this. I have zero problems with law enforcement approaching and politley questioning rail fans about their activities. This is not in dispute my me or most other hobbyists but PLEASE don't start off the conversation with, "Photography of trains is illegal". Thanks and if anybody reading this works for the NYC PD or MTA feel free to have them read these postings to their superiors.

RailfanMag
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Joined: Mon Mar 29, 2010 11:44 am

Re: bad Day at 42nd St

Post by RailfanMag » Thu May 19, 2011 7:22 am

Been there, done that. I was stopped at the Broad Channel station last August (on a day the museum train was running!) and was ultimately handcuffed. I now have a lawsuit against the NYPD and the city. The New York Civil Liberties Union is very interested in hearing about encounters like this -- they haven't charged me a dime for defending me and filing the lawsuit.

I was also contacted by the National Association of Press Photographers who also offered legal help should it be necessary.

If it happens again, write down what happened immediately (while it's still fresh in your mind), get badge numbers and contact me at the magazine. I'll get you in touch with people that can help.

Steve Barry
Railfan & Railroad

Head-end View
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Re: bad Day at 42nd St

Post by Head-end View » Thu May 19, 2011 12:10 pm

Steve, I actually read about your encounter in the magazine. Did you have the above mentioned documents with you and did you show them to the officers involved?

Roadgeek Adam
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Re: bad Day at 42nd St

Post by Roadgeek Adam » Fri May 20, 2011 12:48 am

Anything I should be watching for in terms of cops and guards and such? I will be in NYC on Saturday eventually heading up to 113th Street for dinner. I've printed those documents as a precaution and are ready to go if asked.
...they are solid plastic, so don't settle for imitation.

Allan
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Location: Bronx, NY

Re: bad Day at 42nd St

Post by Allan » Fri May 20, 2011 2:58 pm

Roadgeek Adam wrote:Anything I should be watching for in terms of cops and guards and such? I will be in NYC on Saturday eventually heading up to 113th Street for dinner. I've printed those documents as a precaution and are ready to go if asked.

Best thing to do is to take your pictures and move on. Don't hang around in any one spot for too long. If underground do not take flash pictures at oncoming trains.

There will be police in uniform and in plainclothes. If there are any uniformed police officers around you really won't know how they will react. Some will do nothing, some will ask what you are doing and leave it at that, some will give you a hard time.

You may also be approached by NYCT employees (they are not supposed to do that but they do anyway) who will tell you that taking photos is illegal. Those people you can tell about the MTA rules (and if they want to report it/call police they can - most won't).

Roadgeek Adam
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Re: bad Day at 42nd St

Post by Roadgeek Adam » Fri May 20, 2011 4:39 pm

Allan wrote:
Roadgeek Adam wrote:Anything I should be watching for in terms of cops and guards and such? I will be in NYC on Saturday eventually heading up to 113th Street for dinner. I've printed those documents as a precaution and are ready to go if asked.

Best thing to do is to take your pictures and move on. Don't hang around in any one spot for too long. If underground do not take flash pictures at oncoming trains.

There will be police in uniform and in plainclothes. If there are any uniformed police officers around you really won't know how they will react. Some will do nothing, some will ask what you are doing and leave it at that, some will give you a hard time.

You may also be approached by NYCT employees (they are not supposed to do that but they do anyway) who will tell you that taking photos is illegal. Those people you can tell about the MTA rules (and if they want to report it/call police they can - most won't).
I'll be in a group of 40 or so, I should have mentioned. Plus I am making sure, I've done this many times before, just making sure after all the hype.
...they are solid plastic, so don't settle for imitation.

Allan
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Location: Bronx, NY

Re: bad Day at 42nd St

Post by Allan » Fri May 20, 2011 7:45 pm

A group of 40?

Somehow I don't think you will have much of a problem with picture taking (as long as you don't stray from the bunch).

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