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Old 08-26-2012, 06:11 AM   #16
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tattoogunman's Avatar
Joined: Sep 2010
Location: Plano, TX
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I was in law enforcement for 16 years and still do investigations for a private non profit. Here's the deal -

Yes, as long as you are legally in a public place and are in plain view of something, you can take pictures. That said, if you are taking pictures of something like an oil refinery or something similar, do not be surprised if you get stopped (especially if someone calls it in).

I can make an investigatory stop on anyone that I want to find out what they are doing. Like others have already said, in a post 9/11 climate, someone taking pictures of an oil refinery could be viewed as suspicious. The original post basically detailed exactly what I/we would have done. Conducted the stop, found why he/she was there taking pictures, documented it, and then let them go - it's no big deal. I worked for the U.S. Capitol Police for a few years (place was horrible, I left after about 2 years ) and we stopped people all the time for taking pics of our security posts, entrances, etc. Inside of the Capitol we had any number of areas where you were not allowed access or to take pics. If we caught someone, we did the stop, etc. When I worked for ATF I was in Salt Lake during the Olympics. We stopped any number of people caught videotaping our building (we were co-located with FBI and DEA), the entrances we were using to get in and out of the building, our vehicles, etc. When I was a regular beat cop, I had a few traffic stops where people had a, shall we say, less than normal amount of maps, imaging equipment, cameras, video equipment, etc. inside their cars. Nothing came out of any of them, but you never know. It's called being vigilant and proactive, they're just doing their jobs. It's that or let an incident happen and then people come out bitching that the cops knew someone was doing this kind of activity and did nothing about it.

I get why people want the pics because it's interesting, looks cool, or whatever. But people also need to understand that if someone had any interest in attacking a specific place, taking pictures of it is a big step towards carrying that out. I never had anyone who, after explaining things to them, did not understand why they were stopped. Most of them were always like "Oh, I didn't really think about that" and went about their business.

Take your pictures - just be aware of what you're taking a picture of and understand what I just said above in case you were to get stopped.
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Old 08-26-2012, 10:52 AM   #17
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Joined: Jul 2010
Location: Los Angeles, CA
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Originally Posted by tattoogunman View Post
When I was a regular beat cop, I had a few traffic stops where people had a, shall we say, less than normal amount of maps, imaging equipment, cameras, video equipment, etc. inside their cars.
Sounds like me on a Jeep trip but I'm a bit of a mapping dork.

My laptop that's mounted has three types of maps as well as aerial imagery and stuff, plus sometimes I'll have cameras mounted and I've always got a couple radios.
2005 KLR 650 A bit beat up but works just fine. Powered by really angry canaries. - Actually it's a bit dead right now.
1990 DR350S Smaller. Lighter. Slower.
1985 Suzuki GS700E Some assembly required
1977 Cimatti City Bike. What, you call that a build thread? Officially stalled...
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