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Another photographer harassed for no good reason

Today I was looking though the latest images from my contacts on flickr and I came across this one from Josh.

So today I was at a small nature park with some of my family. I'll spare the boring details since I'm sure everyone has been to such a place. So I was sitting on a pier on the lakeside, when some County police officer pulls up in his golf cart, and asks me "Who are you and what are you doing here?"

So I told him I was a visitor to the park and was a visitor. While this sounds like I was talking back to him, he did not at all ask in a tone or a way that was wondering my name. Even when he asked a second time, it did not occur to me he wanted my name... Eventually I asked him if he wanted my name since the guy was apparently too much of a dunderhead to just ASK that. He said eventually someone had seen me walk by the beach area with my camera, and that they called it in, no joke, that was the complaint apparently. He then proceeded to tell me that any photographs where you can zoom in and recognize someone was not allowed, against their privacy rights, and required a signed paper from everyone in the picture. I think I stared at him in utter disbelief here for a moment, but I don't really recall. I didn't even take any photos at, or near the beach...

Then Mr. Power Trip wanted my License (this might have been prior to the previous line, actually). Unfortunately I caved in, which I really regret since he took down all my information, from the license in his little book. They don't list weight on the license, so he decided to ask me what I weighed, I asked him why, and he asked again, and I told him to take a guess. Next he said he was going to run my name through "all the lists" and he bets I'll "show up on at least a couple" (THAT is a direct quote)

I told him several times he was free to look through all my photos if that would please him, but of course, this really wasn't about the photos, is my guess, and more about Mr. 5'5 trying to boss around someone twice is size.

After he told me I had to leave immediately and was not welcome back, "especially with a camera" (ooooh). Around this time I asked to speak to his boss, and luckily enough the park manger was just about 30 yards away, I guess not really his boss but I figured it would do for a start. So I went over to him.

He was a somewhat nice guy, and I don't want to make him sound like a total ass when I don't believe he really was. First he told me, after I gave him an explanation of the events, that the cop was allowed to do whatever he pleased in the county because he was a county officer. Of course, I told him this was utter nonsense, and he can't just accuse and take peoples stuff at will. The manager agreed with me, and told me that they don't allow any professional photography in the park, I guess that's what he thought I was doing, it sounds like nonsense anyways... or are any photos of people allowed where you can recognize them as it's against the law (again. W!T!F!). Now in an effort to remedy his situation as fast as possible I just said I think you're wrong regarding that" and offered again to show my photos, and told him I offered the cop the same several times already. I think at this point he realized that I wasn't doing anything wrong, even by his distorted view of the law and rules, and he told me essentially to enjoy my current and any future stays to the park. (which, by the way, there won't be any...)

While I did write to a friend because I know they've encountered similar, if anyone knows of the best person, place, agency to write regarding this type of crap, not only the photography part, but the accusations and tone he talked to me with, I would really really appreciate it. Thanks! Really wish i remembered the guys name. I am horrible with names...

The original post on flickr:http://www.flickr.com/photos/joshschwartz/2653474865/



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