Old 07-12-2007, 02:52 AM   #1
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Exclamation Kicked off of public property by CSXT

At about 5:00 P.M., today, my dad and I were raillfanning at a rural crossing, along the CSXT spur, in Channahon. The reason we were down there is because we saw a CSXT local working.

We got off of Interstate 55 and drove down a public road, to a public, ungated crossing. We legally pulled over, off the road. There were no signs that read "CSXT property." I took out my camera and took one picture. We then waited for the train to move up a bit, so we could get a better picture. The train didn't move. We continued to wait.

Minutes later, a security officer came by and told us that they're banning photography around that area. He said that the crew of the train called us in to security and said that we were "suspicious individuals taking pictures." I kindly told the officer that I am a railfan, whose hobby is taking pictures of trains. He didn't have any problem with that and was very nice about the situation, however, he told us that we weren't going to be able to stay there.

After we left, we figured that the whole situation was over. We came home and went on with the day like we always do. At about 7:00 P.M., tonight, my dad was home on the computer. The doorbell rang and he went downstairs to answer it. A Will County Sheriff's Deputy was standing at the door. He wanted to know if we were taking pictures today, along the CSXT in Channahon. My dad kindly told the deputy that we were and that he and his son enjoy trains as a hobby. He asked my dad if we took a picture of the train. My dad told him that we did and the deputy wanted to see the picture. My dad showed him the picture and the deputy took down the train engine number. My dad was told that the FBI may be interviewing us and that the location we were at was three miles away from a refinery. The deputy was also nice about the situation. He gave us a green card that read "Suspicious Person."

My mom and I were not home at the time and got home fifteen minutes after the deputy left our house. When we got home, my dad told us the story and I couldn't believe it.

I'm currently on the phone with a friend right now as I type this and he says "It seems that these police officers take their jobs way too seriously. Why don't they go after the real terrorists for a change?"

Just wanted to share our experience with all of you. Please feel free to share your thoughts.

Take care.

Nick Hart
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Old 07-12-2007, 03:04 AM   #2
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Quote:
Please feel free to share your thoughts.
Be polite, answer the questions, and if you were on public property, I'd go back railfanning there tomorrow!
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Old 07-12-2007, 03:31 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ween
Be polite, answer the questions, and if you were on public property, I'd go back railfanning there tomorrow!
I agree with Ween on this one, but no one has the right to stop and or confiscate your camera from taking pictures of trains on the public property.

I ran into a situation like this and pulled out my CN railway employee badge and afterwards never been bothered by cops while railfanning again on my off time.
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Old 07-12-2007, 10:21 AM   #4
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If it was public property as you say, I'd be back there tomorrow as Ween has said. If I got harrassed again I'd take it to the local news station etc etc.

Thanks for sharing your story too.

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Old 07-12-2007, 02:00 PM   #5
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With the recent news of "an attack this summer", everyone is on red alert. Unfortunately, we innocent railfans suffer by it. I can see both sides of the coin. If we ARE on on public property and taking shots of the trains, no big deal. It is what that the wrong person can disguise themself as a railfan, if there is such a disguise and can learn from those pictures. I'm not familiar with your location. I know that NS does not send their ethanol trains through downtown Pittsburgh because of the outcome of a mishap, whether accidental or intentional. The military uses a term OPSEC (OPerations SECurity). Basically, it is to not put out information that could end up in the wrong hands and be used against you or others for harm. E.g. "Ethanol trains in downtown Pgh. Let's plot an attack using them" type of thing. I had a SWAT Medic training/demo for a school one time. The scenario was an active student shooter with a hostage. It was good training for us, but for the demo part of it, it was only viewed by school staff, NO students. The OPSEC came in to play, because in that case, students should not know how we are going to storm in on them if that scenario becomes real. Nothing against joephotog or any other press, but for our scenario, our local media covered the demo and was fully cooperative with no pictures/write ups of tactics that were used. On the other hand, there is the press that just wants the story will post anything. Prime example on Sept. 11th. of the press saying that they are not sure where The President might be going next, but it may be Camp David, or it may be here or there. Hello, McFly!!! Who do you think one of the prime individuals are that might be a target?

Personally, I wouldn't go back there for a while since you were specifically confronted by legit officials. Although you are not doing anything legally wrong, they may not be so nice next time. You would hopefully end up winning in the end, but it may be more of a headache than it is worth.
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Old 07-12-2007, 02:36 PM   #6
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Also, I'd carry this on you. I keep one in all of my camera bags.
The Photographer's Right
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Old 07-12-2007, 07:01 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Slopes09
Also, I'd carry this on you. I keep one in all of my camera bags.
The Photographer's Right
The link seems to be dead.

Please repost it. I'd like to see it.
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Old 07-12-2007, 08:13 PM   #8
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I had the same thing happen to me at a very similar location by NS. A crew switching near some refineries must have called the police on me. When I was finished taking my photos, I headed back to my car (parked on a city street) when before I even got a chance to start it, two cruisers came screaming out of nowhere and kept me from leaving the area. I was polite, and so were they, but they advised that the railroad had reported my behavior as "suspicious", even though it was broad daylight on a cheerful, RP.net type of Saturday afternoon. They reminded me that 9/11 happened, and that they wanted to make sure I wasn't going to blow anything up. (not sure how I could do that, but maybe someone else could have, who knows...)

Even though these instances are on public property, it's just wise to stay away from sensitive areas like refineries, or where there's any Hazmat being transported. I would use common sense, and just leave industrial areas alone.
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Old 07-12-2007, 08:57 PM   #9
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This document is interesting and makes references to the document whose link is down
http://www.kantor.com/useful/Legal-R...tographers.pdf

and related
http://www.kantor.com/blog/2005/12/l...graphers.shtml
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Old 07-12-2007, 10:18 PM   #10
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. . . Even though these instances are on public property, it's just wise to stay away from sensitive areas like refineries, or where there's any Hazmat being transported. I would use common sense, and just leave industrial areas alone.
Crap! I can't shoot in Jersey anymore! (A little Northeast humor)
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Old 07-12-2007, 10:27 PM   #11
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I know of a guy who was questioned by the FBI for taking photos about 3 miles away from an AFB on public property (they showed up at his work the next day to question him!). Even though he was doing nothing wrong, he quit taking photos at that spot altogether. He was "tattled" on by a passerby who saw him with a camera by the tracks.I wouldn't have been so accomodating, I'm afraid. Even if they would have told me not to take photos there again in the future, they have no authority to give that order without cause. I wouldn't mind allowing the system of checks and balances in the gov't play out in court over the issue if it ever happened like that with me (that's pretty easy to say though when your legal representation is free!)...
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Old 07-13-2007, 03:01 AM   #12
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Here's a Google cache of the .pdf:
The Photographer's Right
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Old 07-13-2007, 07:04 AM   #13
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In our increasingly screwed up country anybody could be doing recon for any number of terror cells.

Profiling doesnt work as well as it used to. Understand it from the other perspective too before jumping to conclusions.
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Old 07-13-2007, 08:28 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rustyrail
I had the same thing happen to me at a very similar location by NS. A crew switching near some refineries must have called the police on me. When I was finished taking my photos, I headed back to my car (parked on a city street) when before I even got a chance to start it, two cruisers came screaming out of nowhere and kept me from leaving the area. I was polite, and so were they, but they advised that the railroad had reported my behavior as "suspicious", even though it was broad daylight on a cheerful, RP.net type of Saturday afternoon. They reminded me that 9/11 happened, and that they wanted to make sure I wasn't going to blow anything up. (not sure how I could do that, but maybe someone else could have, who knows...)

Even though these instances are on public property, it's just wise to stay away from sensitive areas like refineries, or where there's any Hazmat being transported. I would use common sense, and just leave industrial areas alone.
Yeah avoid the east coast
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Old 07-13-2007, 11:51 AM   #15
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We still live in a free and democratic society you know! Dont let the authorities take away your basic rights just because they think they can get away with it. There's far to much of this "Big Brother" sort of stuff going on these days. I'd be willing to take it to court to keep them honest.

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Old 07-13-2007, 03:50 PM   #16
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Default It's not all about you.

So let's see if I've got this right. . . this has caused all sorts of furor because a security guard is trying to do his job? The local sheriff is trying to do his job, and maybe the FBI and TSA?

Please, what you're doing is a hobby, what they're doing is their livelyhood and careers. They are trying to keep things like 9/11 and the terrorist bombings elsewhere in the world from happening here again. I think a little bit of respect is in order for these people.

Beyond that, WE ARE AT WAR, and I'm not talking about in Iraq. In WWII people were more than happy to sacrifice a little bit of their time and convenience for the greater good of beating back the Germans and Japanese. We need to have that same attitude now, but so far it's proven to be very difficult to find. Terrorists are within our borders, it's a known fact, terrorists want to kill "the infidels" which is YOU, ME, and YOUR FAMILY and FRIENDS.

The security professionals and law enforcement officers you encounter every day are trying to protect everyone, including people, company assets and a way of life. Admittedly, some of them do get a little overboard, but take a good look at the bombings in Madrid, Great Britain and elsewhere. Those events happened because someone DID NOT take their job seriously enough.

Yeah, it's kind of a bitch having to answer those sorts of questions, you're a law abiding citizen and don't break any rules as a railfan. But for every one of you that doesn't break a rule, there are 4 or 5 that do and that is the reputation that precedes all of us near the tracks, like it or not. It's just the way it is. As the saying goes, You can have all the "attaboys" in the world, all it takes is one "oh shit" to make them meaningless.

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Old 07-13-2007, 04:03 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hoydie17
Beyond that, WE ARE AT WAR, and I'm not talking about in Iraq. In WWII people were more than happy to sacrifice a little bit of their time and convenience for the greater good of beating back the Germans and Japanese. We need to have that same attitude now, but so far it's proven to be very difficult to find. Terrorists are within our borders, it's a known fact, terrorists want to kill "the infidels" which is YOU, ME, and YOUR FAMILY and FRIENDS.
As a one-time Bush voter, I must say Sean, this is over the top. The terrorist threat does not mean that our law enforcement agencies, not to mention private security forces who are not acting to enforce the laws but rather the property rights of their employers, have free reign to ignore established US law. In my view, one of the key reasons we fight for our way of life is that our way of life is based on the respect for the rule of law! So I don't care to see our "war" used as justification for ignoring the laws that in part make us usually a great country. Our security forces, public and private, do not get to do whatever the hell they want, because our laws say they do not get to! Otherwise we might as well become more like those that we fight.

I don't want to turn this into a forum for politics, there is plenty of that on the web. So I don't want to get into a back and forth, but I do want to raise an alternative view. In fact, Sean, I think your post got much too far away from "what railfans should do when faced with police/security" toward the realm of "let's talk current politics/war issues". All you had to say was "let's show some respect for security people who are trying to do their jobs" and not add the other stuff. My view; I would have kept my political views to myself had your post not appeared.
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Old 07-13-2007, 06:01 PM   #18
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Exactly JRMDC. I along with many other people am sick of this "attack this summer" crap. If its going to happen, it will, but hopefully otherwise. But everywhere I go now its getting out of control. I know they want to protect us, but why do they get the right to ban where we want to be, ban photography, etc. Its a bunch of crap, so I will talk to the cops whenever they want to talk, and have them explain where im doing something wrong. Suspicious is more a guess than anything, so Im not going to be offended by being questioned or stopped. Being kickout out of a public spot is different, and if at the time I was not on public property, I'll gladly leave.

Oh well, another reason to be harrassed

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Old 07-13-2007, 06:45 PM   #19
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My view; I would have kept my political views to myself had your post not appeared.
Political view? I don't see anything political in there? Facts and observations maybe, but no politics.

Think you need to read into my comments a little more.

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Old 07-13-2007, 07:00 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hoydie17
Political view? I don't see anything political in there? Facts and observations maybe, but no politics.
Not wanting to get into the politics here, I will end with one observation. I have found, over the years, that people of all persuasions/perspectives have a remarkable ability to treat their own opinions as fact and the facts brought up by an opposing side as opinion, to see black/white instead of shades of gray, to ignore complexities and connections, and in general to be too darn sure of themselves. I might even call it the human condition. It's hard work to do otherwise, but that hard work needs to be done.
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Old 07-13-2007, 07:18 PM   #21
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Janusz,

You still misunderstand what I'm trying to say here. Sure it's easy to look at all the possible scenarios, and hope everyone of them leads to everyone walking away fat, dumb and happy.

Problem is, if that security guard hadn't "intervened" and at least ascertained the purpose for those guys to be there and the unthinkable happened. Alot of people, including many of us, would be screaming bloody murder because the security guard was negligent and failed to do what was required.

I never said he was right in kicking them off the property, it wasn't his place to do so. Then of course none of us truly know if Nick and his Dad were standing on railroad or corporate property. Maybe they were and have absolutely no idea that they were on a private company's land, or maybe the railroad owns a little farther off the ROW than is the normal standard. Yeah, so they should put up signs saying so, and in the courtroom that might be what gets someone off the hook, or right back onto it depending on who's side you're on.

As a citizen, I actually feel better at night knowing full well that there are people out their trying to do their best at protecting the peace. Yes, some of them are pricks and way overstep their bounds, but when you really think about it, they are few and far between. I've had only a handful of negative encounters with security and law enforcement personnel while railfanning. The vast majority of my run-ins with the police or security have been very good and in many cases quite enlightening if not enjoyable.

Guess what I'm trying to say here, in a simple way of putting it, better to be safe than sorry. And if I have to be sorry, I'd rather be sorry for pissing someone off than I would for not doing my best to keep people from getting killed or injured.

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Old 07-13-2007, 07:53 PM   #22
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Originally Posted by hoydie17
As a citizen, I actually feel better at night knowing full well that there are people out their trying to do their best at protecting the peace. Yes, some of them are pricks and way overstep their bounds, but when you really think about it, they are few and far between. I've had only a handful of negative encounters with security and law enforcement personnel while railfanning. The vast majority of my run-ins with the police or security have been very good and in many cases quite enlightening if not enjoyable.
I don't disagree with the issues you raise involving individual security people, the many who behave properly and the few who do not, and how we interact with them. I wish the discussion had been limited to that, as I believe would have been appropriate for this forum.

Quote:
Guess what I'm trying to say here, in a simple way of putting it, better to be safe than sorry. And if I have to be sorry, I'd rather be sorry for pissing someone off than I would for not doing my best to keep people from getting killed or injured.
In your previous post you introduced greater issues, for example by putting "WE ARE AT WAR" in capitals, in invoking London/Madrid, and so forth. You did so in a way which led me to believe that you are one of those people who believe that we need to take away rights in which we believe and for which we have fought in order to survive. You upped the rhetorical ante, perhaps not intentionally, but you did. I may be wrong, but I continue to suspect that you are one who doesn't take much of an interest in things like the rule of law and habeus corpus and so forth.

Perhaps I am being unfair to you, perhaps I have read too many things by too many people who invoke statements like yours, in the style in which you invoked them, to justify lots of things that I oppose and I think are harming or oppose the very ideals we allegedly are "at war" for. Sorry if so, but I shall retain my suspicions until proven or disproven. At any rate, that is, again, outside the scope of this forum, and perhaps I should not have allowed those suspicions to motivate making a response. The key thing, with respect to this forum, is that I saw what you wrote as strong statement of political rhetoric, one offering a particular viewpoint as opposed to an unchallengeable statement of what you called "fact' and I offered an opposing view. I am happy to drop this matter here.
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Old 07-14-2007, 12:14 AM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Burner50
In our increasingly screwed up country anybody could be doing recon for any number of terror cells.

Profiling doesnt work as well as it used to. Understand it from the other perspective too before jumping to conclusions.
I uderstand it from the perspective of the founding fathers who wtote a little ditty called the Constituion which is supposed to protectuse from illegal searches, unlawful detainment and give us the right to a free press, which I believe that photography from public places falls under.

I worry about the guys on this board who are suggesting that the poster of this thread stay away from this public area. This bend over and take it attitude is just what our enemies want and when we change our lifestyles to suit them, they win.


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Old 07-14-2007, 12:58 AM   #24
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Originally Posted by EMTRailfan
Nothing against joephotog or any other press, but for our scenario, our local media covered the demo and was fully cooperative with no pictures/write ups of tactics that were used.
You would be surprised how fully cooperative most of the media actually is. We routinely do not give out information that the LEOs give us but ask us not to reveal. It can be anything from the name of of a victim to a prime motive in a murder. One PIO for a local agency let a few of us media folks behind police lines to show us a body of a man they found in a river. There is an awful lot of give and take among us because we have to work together all the time.

Unlike these guys out in California, I guess --

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Old 07-14-2007, 01:52 AM   #25
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I worry about the guys on this board who are suggesting that the poster of this thread stay away from this public area. This bend over and take it attitude is just what our enemies want and when we change our lifestyles to suit them, they win.
I understand what you are saying, but even had 9/11 not occured, wouldn't you think that most railroad crews would be a bit spooked by some strange person taking pictures in an unusual location where hazardous materials (and highly flammable in this case) are being transported? We have to keep those who are working in dangerous situations best interests in mind. I'm sure that they realize they are working in a higher risk occupation, but there's no need to exacerbate their concern.

I work in an office situation, and I am fortunate that I never have to worry about such things; however, if someone came up to my desk and started to take pictures in my face without my consent I wouldn't care for it. Some railroaders are more than fine with photography (GOD BLESS THEM!), and others want their privacy. All I'm saying is that we should be more mindful of our actions, and in my opinion there's nothing worse than a railfan with a militant "My God given right" attitude. Yes, we're photographers and we have rights, but not EVERYONE likes getting their picture taken, whether or not it's on public property, and whether or not they think their face is recognizable.


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