Sunday, December 14, 2014

Just the facts . . .


 At a vehicle accident in November, photographers were approached by officers of local police departments who strongly advised them to stop taking photos, and in one instance to wait a few days before publishing any photos that had already been taken. In another instance, a police officer allegedly intending to photograph a news photographer (for "identification" purposes) relented when the photographer showed his press credentials. (At no time did photographers cross the police line or otherwise interfere with the investigation.)

 While executing these actions, the officers said they have the right to confiscate cameras and hold them for a few days, and that District Attorney Craig Stedman has the authority to confiscate cameras and extract images of potential crimes scenes.  In at least one instance, the officer indicated that this accident scene was a potential crime scene. According to an official source, the directive to stop taking photos and “Do something about this” came from a West Hempfield police officer at the scene. 

About a week later, a representative of this website met with the West Hempfield police chief, who said that an officer ordering such an action would be in violation of the department's policy and that he would speak to the officer in question.  

In a phone call placed shortly after this meeting by a representative of this website to District Attorney Stedman's office, an officer there said that the DA does not have the authority to command officers and that police departments are in charge of their own officers. He suggested the matter be discussed with the police chief - which had already been done.

[Names (except for Stedman) are being withheld at this time.]

A page on photographer's rights is HERE.  Information will be added periodically.

9 comments:

  1. So, the powers to be do not have as much power as they would like us to believe they do..... So sorry you were mistreated and misled by them but happy that it encouraged you to do this research.

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    1. Yes, the incident clarified some things.

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  2. I ALWAYS thought the police were on our side, now I'm beginning to wonder. I'm convinced that we must look out for our rights because no one else will. If we allow them to be taken away, even in a seemingly small way, it will lead to greater injustice. Speak up or give up.

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    1. I was very disappointed, especially considering that I've always supported our local police and have had positive interactions with officers.

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  3. maybe your taking this too personal....it may have been only because of the delicate nature of the incident. sometimes we have to put ourselves in the other persons place and ask "would I want someone to do that?"

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    1. Police shouldn't be enforcing sensitivity. They should be enforcing the law.

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  4. Too personal?! Who decides what is delicate? All horrible events are sad and delicate for someone, that doesn't mean that these events should not be photographed. I would want to know what's happening rather than sit at home wasting precious time, so yes, I would want someone to do this for me. A violation of our rights is very personal.

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    1. Right. What about the heartbreaking photo of the fireman carrying the dead infant after the Oklahoma City bombing? Was it insensitive? Should the police have prevented the photographer from shooting it? The image memorializes the tragedy.

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  5. sorry...i guess i didn't think this the whole way thru. i see your point too....it's just so heartbreaking to see tragedies everywhere.

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