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Yesterday I was out with a friend taking photos of the Hess oil refinery in Port Reading, NJ. We're working on a sketch comedy pilot, and one of the scripts calls for an oil refinery as a background. We found a bridge near the refinery that had a fantastic, unobstructed view and proceeded to snap a few quick photos. We were standing on a public sidewalk on the bridge, we weren't obstructing traffic, and we parked our car legally at a public park right next to the bridge. As I turned around to leave, a police cruiser from the Woodbridge Township Police Department pulled up to where we stood (Port Reading is part of Woodbridge Township). The officer asked us what we were doing, and we explained that we were taking photos of the refinery for a sketch comedy project. Immediately, he told us that we weren't allowed to take photos of the refinery, and that we had to delete all the photos in the camera.

My mind quickly snapped back to all the posts I've read on Boing Boing about police doing this very thing. So I asked the officer why I had to delete the photos. He responded that there were town ordinances that were mandated by the state and the Department of Homeland Security. I then asked for the specific ordinance or law, saying that I had read a lot of stories about police and photography in public places. He failed to provide me with anything specific, citing Homeland Security "stuff". He then asked us for our driver's licenses (which I believe he's allowed to do) and our Social Security numbers. I told him I was uncomfortable with that and asked him why he needed my SS number, to which he never gave me a clear answer. He just kept saying that we weren't being reported for anything, they wouldn't keep our info on file, and that he needed the SS numbers to check in. I reluctantly gave it to him, and he got back in his car. We stood on the bridge for about ten minutes before he got out and told us nothing was wrong, just that we shouldn't take any more photos like that. I asked if I still had to delete my photos, and he said no. I should point out that the officer was nice enough about the whole thing, and our exchange was perfectly civil. That doesn't forgive any possible harassment, of course.

We didn't get any kind of report or explanation about how our information was used. We certainly never learned what ordinance or law we were violating. I have been searching the Woodbridge Township ordinances (found here), but haven't found anything even close to what he was describing. I'm going to call the township as well as the state Attorney General's Office. I'd actually feel a little better if there was such a law, even though I would disagree with it. I'm much more worried by the fact that police across the country are stopping people on the street for breaking laws that don't exist.

I'm still not sure if I did or did not break any laws. I've done a lot of research on my own, but I'd like to open it up to the community. Has anyone else had a similar experience in New Jersey? Is anyone familiar with the state and federal laws regarding photography of public places? Is it standard procedure to ask for someone's Social Security number? Does this law, or any like it, exist?

By the way, I haven't posted the photos yet. I'm still not sure if I'm allowed to, because I never got a clear answer from the officer. It's funny how something simple can get so complicated.

Originally posted to Androsko on Fri May 29, 2009 at 09:40 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  This used to happen in the Soviet Union (16+ / 0-)

    Photographing bridges, et cetera, was considered spying.

    I wish that wasn't the first thing that came to mind, but it was.

    Smiting trolls on the tubes since 1977!

    by blue aardvark on Fri May 29, 2009 at 09:44:43 AM PDT

  •  Not law, and if there were, it'd fail (20+ / 0-)

    1st Amendment scrutiny.

    There's been memos from Homeland Security directing local law enforcement to check out photographers of sensitive sites, often misread as an outright ban.



    Practicing Law without a License is my 3d favorite Crime.

    by ben masel on Fri May 29, 2009 at 09:46:20 AM PDT

  •  More than likely not (5+ / 0-)

    It sounds more like A) either it was entirely made up, as it has been in many cases, such as the Amtrak situations, either by the office themselves or by their management,or B) the refinery has let the police force know that they don't want their operations photographed without their knowledge and has told the police that there is such a law on the books, whether there is or not.  I don't know of anyplace that there is a law like this.  The police have had a habit of citing the Patriot Act as having these prohibitions, but that has been shown to be completely bogus.

    I wish I'd spent my $3.99 on a dollar bill.

    by Philpm on Fri May 29, 2009 at 09:47:21 AM PDT

  •  I recall a federal law... (7+ / 0-)

    that would apply.  This was right after 9-11 and there was great concern that vulnerable sites could be a target for sabotage.

    A refinery would fit into the category.  In my little city in California each Sheriff's deputy has a computer with relevant statutes available.  

    In my case it was based on a specific traffic law that is inappropriate, but is a part of the state code.  Almost all enlightened police entities have something like the COP program, Community Outreach Program, where officers skilled in human relations are responsive to questions such as you raise here.

    It seems like you handled it well.  

    •  Trouble isn't the photo (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      EthrDemon, arodb, Cassandra Waites

      it's the refinery, or other hazardous infrastructure.

      Indian Point nuke was considered as a 9/11 target and discarded because Atta was convinced there'd be SAMs protecting it.  There weren't, and AFAIK, still aren't.  But if your intent is to cause chaos, you don't need the kind of precision that photography gives you.  Drive down the 405 through Carson in So. Cal, and you'll see a terrorist's wet dream, cluster after cluster of pipes carrying (some of them) toxic chemicals.  Fatherland Security can't stop thousands of potential photographers snapping one from the passenger seat, and even if they could, what kind of wimpy-ass terrorist would they be obstructing?

      It's all whistling past the graveyard.

  •  Cop Talking Out of his Asshole (10+ / 0-)

    more than likely. It's something of a societal trend. When caught in a situation where you are unsure of the correct answer, make something up that sounds right. Customer Service Reps and Cops do it all the time.

    "You'd sell a serious person for a line on a dirty mirror," Bob Zimway on Me.

    by Larry Madill on Fri May 29, 2009 at 09:51:41 AM PDT

  •  Police state bullshit (7+ / 0-)

    that just might have a bullshit law, state or federal, to go with it...  Or just general harassment that diminishes free speech.

    Can't say what you should do, but if it were me, I'd probably post them.  On a related story, there were Aviation Week & Space Technology photographers who would stake out a hill near "Area 51" that happened to be public land, and they'd take photos of some of the most secret hardware the USA has and publish it.  Guards and helicopters would harass them relentlessly, but the photographers were in the right.  (Eventually the base annexed the hill.)

    Also, isn't it in Social Security law that the number can't be required for official identification purposes?  Even though the SSN has become a de facto ID number, it's not supposed to be that, it's just supposed to be the account number you draw from upon retirement.

    Government and laws are the agreement we all make to secure everyone's freedom.

    by Simplify on Fri May 29, 2009 at 09:52:08 AM PDT

    •  i lived in fascist spain and Korea (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Rogneid, Philpm

      photography was prohibited all over the place.

      George Bush is Living proof of the axiom "Never send a boy to do a man's job" E -2.25 S -4.10

      by nathguy on Fri May 29, 2009 at 09:55:55 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I would have refused the SS number (11+ / 0-)

      Hell, just say you don't know it! You aren't required to carry or have memorized your Social Security number! And the police have absolutely no business with it.

      Eli Stephens
      Left I on the News

      by elishastephens on Fri May 29, 2009 at 10:17:13 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I wonder about the driver's license # even (5+ / 0-)

        Even if the photography were a violation, it's in no way related to vehicular law.  If you walked to the same spot and took pictures, you wouldn't necessarily be carrying any form of identification at all.  Here in the USA there are no national identification papers.  Or at least, there aren't supposed to be.

        There was a Supreme Court case about this recently, ruling that you had to identify yourself to a cop even if there wasn't a crime, but I don't know whether that included a driver's license number.

        Government and laws are the agreement we all make to secure everyone's freedom.

        by Simplify on Fri May 29, 2009 at 10:51:56 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  In fact, you are advised not to carry it . (5+ / 0-)

        It says on the info that comes with your card that you aren't supposed to laminate it, and to keep it in a safe place other than your wallet.

        The SSA website probably has the same info.

        Although I'm old enough to have mine remembered, because we used them for student numbers in college until that law passed saying you couldn't, so I would have to lie about that. (I also remember my ex-husbands SSN, because it was the account number on so many things for many years.)

        They probably wanted it to check on whether he is a citizen or in the country illegally, and the SSN must be the default way to check that. (Not the only way, just the easiest for law enforcement, I'm guessing.)

        "The difference between the right word and the almost-right word is like the difference between lightning and the lightning bug." -- Mark Twain

        by Brooke In Seattle on Fri May 29, 2009 at 10:55:33 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  it was my service number in the Air Force (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Brooke In Seattle, RepTracker

          I know it by heart, but I don't hand it out.

          DL # I don't know by heart, nor SWA Rapid Rewards number.
          I used to know my Sprint phonecard number but my SO inadvertently killed the account while I was traveling on business (he changed house service to get DSL, and Sprint killed everything connected, including the phone card account I'd had for 12 years. Annoyed me, that.)

          Texas: Molly Ivins, Ann Richards, Bill Moyers, Sam Rayburn, Lady Bird & LBJ, Barbara Jordan, Lloyd Bentsen, Jim Hightower, Dan Rather, Ike. It's No Bush Lea

          by BlackSheep1 on Fri May 29, 2009 at 11:01:52 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  And misinformation (10+ / 0-)

    about he Patriot Act again rears it's ugly head.

    I googled refineries, photographing and the law and every single entry say there is no law on the books that says you cannot photograph refineries.

    If this were the case every stock photo of refineries would have to be removed from sale and destroyed.

    In the choice between changing ones mind and proving there's no need to do so, most people get busy on the proof.

    by jsfox on Fri May 29, 2009 at 09:52:58 AM PDT

  •  My guess is "no." (10+ / 0-)

    It seems weird, but police officers are not experts in law, and some hold weird beliefs, based on stuff they've heard - associations they make, etc.

    What led me to realize this is when after my friend Jeff was arrested for putting up an anti-war/Bush/Cheney banner that included an upside down flag a month after the act.  The situation had involved a state trooper (who was courteous and requested the sign be taken down due to the traffic situation, but recognized the right to their opinions) and several local sheriff's police, who were generally less courteous and even confrontational/rude.

    But when he spoke to the state trooper a few months later (as it was dragged through the court), the trooper stated as 'fact' that they could have been arrested for having an upside down flag displayed.

    Of course, they could have, but that wouldn't have stuck, since displaying an upside down flag is not illegal - it's simply a distress signal.

    "The joy of activity is the activity itself, not some arbitrary goal which, if not achieved, steals the joy." ~John "the Penguin" Bingham

    by sheddhead on Fri May 29, 2009 at 09:53:00 AM PDT

    •  See this is the problem... (0+ / 0-)

      The police are suppose to be protectors of our liberties, not to be "infringers".

      This is the genius of those who seek a "police state".

      The cops don't even know they are participating in our fall as a free people.  Genius.

  •  The problem is that cops are human (6+ / 0-)

    and the canon of laws is enormous, far more than you can expect them to remember off the top of their heads.

    So they sometimes operate the way most of us do, sorta figuring if it seems like it might be illegal, it probably is.  There was some blather about this sort of thing back after mid sept 2001, with all sorts of paranoia about refineries, chemical plants, nuke plants, etc, etc, etc.  

    Whether or not any laws got passed, it seeped into the collective consciousness, and a lot of folks have vague impressions that 'you're not supposed to scope out such places'.  Your cop obviously had that vagueness floating around in the back of his mind.

    On the flip side, TSA gets really cranky if you just want a pic of your SO returning at the airport, assuming you're trying to get such photos for nefarious purposes.

    Bah. Typoed during acct creation. It's Ezekiel 23:20

    by Ezekial 23 20 on Fri May 29, 2009 at 09:54:56 AM PDT

    •  This is BS! I do expect a policeman to know the (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      debedb, ClapClapSnap

      specific law that he is alleging that I have broken. That is his job!  If he can't cite the law accurately I would suggest that he radio someone for reference or leave me alone.

      These guys carry weapons and are authorized to kill people unfortunately based upon the law. I don't think I am expecting too much to expect them to know it.

      Further what often happens when a person questions what law applies, and the officer can't quote a specific law, the officer will become combatant with the individual.  

      The problem is that cops are human and the canon of laws is enormous, far more than you can expect them to remember off the top of their heads.

      So they sometimes operate the way most of us do, sorta figuring if it seems like it might be illegal, it probably is.  There was some blather about this sort of thing back after mid sept 2001, with all sorts of paranoia about refineries, chemical plants, nuke plants, etc, etc, etc.

      Hate, lower taxes for the rich, increased profits for corporations, love of the flag image,and guns; what else do Republicans stand for?

      by Blogvirgin on Fri May 29, 2009 at 10:57:48 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Well then start working to get the "Patriot Act" (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        whitewash

        et al. repealed.  You are a dumbass is you can't see the real world consequences of the collective paranoia and then the wholesale give away of our rights when bush broke our laws and WE decided not to take him out of office.

        Start doing something to change the status quo of the "pelosi"ies.  Or this is what you can expect.

        •  I am able to discuss this issue with you without (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          WattleBreakfast

          having to resort to calling you names.

          These issues with the police and their knowledge of the laws they enforce predate the unfortunate Patriot Act. I'm surprised that in your infinite wisdom you aren't aware of that.

          Hate, lower taxes for the rich, increased profits for corporations, love of the flag image,and guns; what else do Republicans stand for?

          by Blogvirgin on Fri May 29, 2009 at 11:54:52 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Not personally directed. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            whitewash

            The "dumbass" wasn't personally directed, sorry.  Just to anyone who supported/supports the give away of our freedoms and liberty for the sake of security.

            Didn't mean to lump you in.

            Also there is much that has changed since the great "look the other way while our government rips up our Constitution".  Things like cops/people being scared of other people photographing oil refineries.

  •  Some public structures, yes. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Rogneid, Philpm, ClapClapSnap, RepTracker

    Like, if you've ever looked at the Verrazano whilst crossing, you've probably noticed "No video recording, no photography" signs. (At least from the Brooklyn into SI side.) I think the reason being there's a credible threat against said bridge, and thus a credible reason to regulate citizens' behavior toward such.

    Private property, like a refinery, is subject to nothing, so long as you're not trespassing.

    One CAN, however, photograph stuff like the NYC Subway system, and public buildings, with impunity. Don't know why bridges are off limits, but you can do any damn thing you want with a camera on the subway, h'ray!

    •  Reading the rest of your post.... (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      BlackSheep1, Rogneid, Philpm, ClapClapSnap

      I don't think you want to EVER give out SS info. for any reason to anyone, unless it's an employment or identity issue that YOU'VE initiated. Why a cop would want your SS info. is beyond me: isn't it on your license? :(

      Politics, please.

      by timmyk on Fri May 29, 2009 at 09:56:51 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  In some states, the Social Security number is not (5+ / 0-)

        on the driver's licenses. It was a really huge identity theft issue.

        Georgia used to use SS numbers as DL numbers. This meant that every check a store clerk ever wrote a GA DL number on included someone's legal name, full address, bank account number, and social security number. Georgia doesn't use SS numbers on the licenses anymore.

        Can you see this inaugural, Dr. King? Did you see this?

        by Cassandra Waites on Fri May 29, 2009 at 10:11:47 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  timmyk, if it's on your DL you need to move (0+ / 0-)

        the hell out of whatever state mandated that, because it's identity theft on a saucer with cheese to have the two numbers on one source. Seriously.

        I have a VA ID with my photo and service number on it. I do carry that. I will submit it when somebody asks me for ID verification beyond my DL. I wonder if I could fly on it.

        I'm nearly sure I couldn't use it in place of a passport (used to be able to do that with my MilID), but I bet it would work over the Mexican border (at Progreso e.g.) still -- it did in '04.

        Texas: Molly Ivins, Ann Richards, Bill Moyers, Sam Rayburn, Lady Bird & LBJ, Barbara Jordan, Lloyd Bentsen, Jim Hightower, Dan Rather, Ike. It's No Bush Lea

        by BlackSheep1 on Fri May 29, 2009 at 11:07:23 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Be aware that signs are not necessarily legal (4+ / 0-)

      In California, an ordinance must be passed to prevent right turn on red at a particular intersection. Some places just put up signs without bothering to actually go through the legal steps.

      Just because there's a sign at the Verrazano saying "no photography" doesn't mean it's a law. It might be. Or it might not be.

      Eli Stephens
      Left I on the News

      by elishastephens on Fri May 29, 2009 at 10:22:43 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  It's not illegal (7+ / 0-)

    There's some good links on this site about photographer's rights. I'm not sure where to find it because I can't remember the title, but there is a guide for photographers that get stopped by police or security people. Basically it tells them they are wrong. The officer is obviously unaware of the law. (Like that would be a first in NJ!)

    Besides there are hundreds of stock photos of refinerys out there.

    The only thing that helps me maintain my slender grip on reality is the friendship I share with my collection of singing potatoes. -5.75, -7.18

    by Rogneid on Fri May 29, 2009 at 09:58:03 AM PDT

  •  I think you are on shaky ground... (0+ / 0-)

    ...an oil refinery could be seen as something vulnerable.  Keep in mind, when it comes to "Homeland Security" issues, you do not have any regular "rights."

    They can just make stuff up.  And, no, you won't find any local ordinances.  I'd be careful...you won't have any thing like habeous corpus on your side.

    "Ignorance is bliss only for the ignorant. The rest of us must suffer the consequences." --Paradise50

    by paradise50 on Fri May 29, 2009 at 09:58:49 AM PDT

  •  In Illinois, illegal to take pics of hog farms (5+ / 0-)

    The pork industry got a law passed that makes it illegal to take pictures of factory pig farms.  Even if you are on a public road.  They are afraid of the bad publicity.

    •  christ, how did they get such a ridiculous (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      debedb, Philpm, myrealname, ClapClapSnap

      law passed?.

      "We struck down evil with the mighty sword of teamwork and the hammer of not bickering!" - The Shoveler

      by Pandoras Box on Fri May 29, 2009 at 10:16:10 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Please provide citation (0+ / 0-)

      ...please provide information about this law in Illinois

      •  Agreed. Cannot find reference to this law (n/t) (0+ / 0-)

        Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom. It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves. - William Pitt

        by Phoenix Rising on Fri May 29, 2009 at 11:23:13 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Correction - Not law, Il House passed, Not Senate (0+ / 0-)

        Il House 118-0 to ban pig photos or video

        If the corporate owners of factory farms like the Inwood Dairy have their way, Hudson's next flyover could land her in jail. In April, the Illinois House passed House Bill 5793, by a 118-to-0 vote, making it illegal to photograph or videotape the animals at a factory farm.

        The legislation, which is currently stalled in the State Senate, "makes it a crime to be on a farm (or other 'animal facility') and photograph or videotape pigs or any other animals without the consent of the owner if one's intent is to 'damage the enterprise,'" reports the Chicago Tribune. The bill defines "animal facilities" as "anywhere an animal is 'kept, housed, handled, exhibited, bred, raised, or offered for sale or purchase.' " The Peoria Journal Star, arguing against the need for such a bill, observed that it "would prohibit state inspectors from taking pictures to document their investigations of these farms."

        Sorry, that is what I get for going from memory about a 2002 bill.

        •  Here is where I read about it, but link fails (0+ / 0-)
          1. MORE ON ANTI-FACTORY FARMING FOOTAGE LEGISLATION

          "Part of an old saying warns us never to watch sausages being made," begins an article in the Chicago Tribune which later goes on to state: "The other part of that old saying reminds us never to watch laws being made, either. And the story of this bill reminds us why." The article is about Illinois House Bill 5793, which seeks to make a crime of photographing or videotaping a factory farmed animal without the consent of the operation's owner (see back issue #65). A similar bill is being attempted in the Missouri legislature. The Illinois bill failed to make it out of committee in the state Senate in time for consideration this spring. It is expected to either be tacked on to other legislation this session or be reintroduced next fall.

          "Lawmakers stand up for pigs' privacy," The Chicago Tribune, Eric Zorn, April 30, 2002.
          http://www.chicagotribune.com/...

  •   back in the late '90s... (6+ / 0-)

    ...I was photographing demonstrators outside a county jail in northern NJ. A cop came up to me and told me I wasn't allowed to photograph the jail. I told him I was photographing the demonstrators, mostly taking face shots. He seemed okay with that and didn't bother me any after that.

  •  Ask the cop to bust Google Earth then (8+ / 0-)

    They probably have some nice, hi-rez shots of the place. Yes, there are some sites that are off-limits to photography but if I were a betting guy, I'd say you ran into a "Paul Blart, Mall Cop" who was throwing his weight around without knowing WTF he was talking about.

    You might call your city hall and ask what specific statue prevents you from photographing that site. If there is one (and I doubt it) then, fine; the cop's right and I'm wrong. But I seriously doubt it.

    This ain't no party. This ain't no disco. This ain't no foolin' around!

    by Snud on Fri May 29, 2009 at 10:21:13 AM PDT

  •  If such a law exists (which I doubt), (4+ / 0-)

    it would be a pretty useless one.

    I would assume any terrorist worth his salt could get pictures of a refinery without being noticed by anybody.

    I'm also pretty concerned about the SSN angle.  Any lawyers that can shed some light?

    I'd rather have a bottle in front of me than a frontal lobotomy.

    by beemerr90s on Fri May 29, 2009 at 10:25:25 AM PDT

  •  What I learned in journalism class (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Snud, ClapClapSnap

    was that if you can see it from a public place, you can take a picture of it.  that goes so far that if you are standing on the sidewalk with a telephoto lens, you could take pictures of people inside their house.  Standing on a bridge you certainly could.

    However, if it was a municiple law, it very well might violate other laws that the township council didn't know about.

  •  Local Film Comission. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    debedb, ClapClapSnap

    Try this.
    Call your local film comission. Give them the bridge and ask them what it would cost to shut it down for two hours.  Tell them you are scouting for a future project.  Once you get a response with how much time it will take and what the costs are you can show that to any police officer.  Mention you are at that bridge to get a view of the refinery.
    Let the film comission do their job.  

  •  There is no such law.... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ClapClapSnap

    ...but your SS# is now at the local "Fusion Center"

    In your situation do not provide SS#, driver's license or allow your photos to be deleted.

  •  The United States Supreme Court (6+ / 0-)

    in Hiilel vs. Sixth Judicial District Court of Nevada upheld the right of states to pass a "stop and identify" law.  In states with such a law, the police may stop people and require them to identify themselves based on a reasonable suspicion that a crime may be in the works.

    In states (like mine) without such a law, the police must have probable cause to stop a person.  I frankly don't know if there is probable cause if a police officer genuinely believes there is a law that is being broken even if he or she is mistaken as to the existence of the law.

    Slightly off-topic, I recently called the police to report that my surveillance camera had caught video of a crime as it was in progress.  The officer that came to pick up a copy of the video asked me for my name and phone number (which I gave), then asked for my date of birth.  I told him I do not give that out.  He then said he needs my social security number.  I told him I do not give that out.  He got visibly irritated and demanded, "Well, then why did you call?"  I asked if he wanted the tape or not.  He said, "I have to do my reports; the DA will have to contact you."  I said, "I've never heard of anybody calling a social security number."  He took the tape and left.

    When did Fox News become a parody of The Colbert Report?

    by Endangered Alaskan Dem on Fri May 29, 2009 at 10:57:47 AM PDT

  •  Is bullshit (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ClapClapSnap

    You were on Public Property.

    I was given a similar line of crap over photographing the Prudential Center in Newark. I was told I needed "written permission" and the sidewalk was "private property" by center rent a cops.

    Post them.  although, what  is curious, I've only run into trouble taking pictures since I got my dSLR....

    "My case is alter'd, I must work for my living." Moll Cut-Purse, The Roaring Girl - 1612, England's First Actress

    by theRoaringGirl on Fri May 29, 2009 at 11:18:04 AM PDT

  •  Highly unlikely ... And some Industrial photos (0+ / 0-)

    At least according to this attorney [PDF]

    The General Rule

    The general rule in the United States is that anyone may take photographs of whatever they want when they are in a public place or places where they have permission to take photographs.  Absent a specific legal prohibition such as a statute or ordinance, you are legally entitled to take photographs.  Examples of places that are traditionally considered public are streets, sidewalks, and public parks.

    They Have No Right to Confiscate Your Film

    Sometimes agents acting for entities such as owners of industrial plants and shopping malls may ask you to hand over your film. Absent a court order, private parties have no right to confiscate your film. Taking your film directly or indirectly by threatening to use force or call a law enforcement agency can constitute criminal offenses such as theft and coercion. It can likewise constitute a civil tort such as conversion. Law enforcement officers may have the authority to seize film when making an arrest but otherwise must obtain a court order.

    If you just need a picture of a refinery/industrial setting at night, maybe one of these will suffice:

  •  People in the NY area were seriously traumatized (0+ / 0-)

    by 9-11. All those communities lost many many people in the bombings.. neighbors, friends..

    :o

    I think we, as all relatively open society are, are tremendously vulnerable to terrorism. Much more than we acknowledge, I actually think that in some areas they underplay, not exaggerate some risks. Don't get me started.

    It is very important that we try to balance all of the many issues - understanding the complexity , really, near impossibility of the task we've given the people who protect us.

    Imagine living next to those kind of things, and how people must worry. They have good reason to worry.

    I guess what I'm saying is as Ive grown older, more and more, I understand the importance if its all possible of trying to give people slack.

    Sure, we need to speak out on important issues (finding a balance in terms of how we manage intrusive technologies is one of those areas) but always, we should keep in mind the greater need to protect people..without turning into a police state..

    I recently watched a great BBC drama called "Five Days" which was about the interrelationships of a bunch of people, the family, police, media, various suspects, extended family- etc- when a woman on the way to visit her grandfather in a hospital was abducted..vanished, along with her two children..

    Now as many probably know, the UK makes far more extensive use of CCTV and other security technologies than we do, in a much more organized fashion.. That was just a small part of this drama, but it was an interesting part.. in that case, you definitely want the police to have much more data then they had..

    At the other extreme, abuse of power, a while ago I saw another film that provoked a lot of questions, the award winning "The Lives of Others" . It examines the East German police state and how it impacted a playwright and his wife, basically destroying their family. The hero of the film, ironically turns out to be the head of the security detail that targeted this couple, because he used his knowledge of the system and prevented a very bad thing from happening. For that, he lost his job (but, of course, the Honnecker government collapsed not long afterward- good riddance!)

    What do we do? These are real issues. There are no easy answers..

    As long as the public + affordability are optional, the greed, insurers, and their "UNFAIRNESS ADVANTAGE" aren't!

    by Andiamo on Fri May 29, 2009 at 01:48:45 PM PDT

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