Old 07-21-2005, 12:30 AM   #1
rlfranz
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2005
Posts: 20
Question Hassled by the man

I was out on my lunch break at the CSX yard here. I was on public property taking photos of the activities when a VA State Police Special Agent approached me and wanted to know why I was taking pictures of trains.

I explained to him that photography is my hobby and that I have a special interest in trains. He then wanted to know what I do with the pictures.

I explained that I generally don't do much of anything with them. If I find one that I really like I'll make a print of it and hang it on my wall. If I think it's really special, I'll submit it to RP for inclusion in the database.

I asked if I was doing anything wrong and in so many words said "no, but I'll have to check you out anyway. If everything comes back OK then I'll destroy all of this information."

I understand the need for vigilance in the post-911 hysteria, but is this going too far?

Wondering if anyone else has had a similar experience.
rlfranz is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-21-2005, 12:35 AM   #2
4kV
Senior Member
 
4kV's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: Homeless, alcoholic drifter with no permanent address
Posts: 653
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by rlfranz
I understand the need for vigilance in the post-911 hysteria, but is this going too far?
Not really. Police can stop to see what you are doing anytime. It sounds like he went about it the right way, not pursuing anything else once he found out you were not up to something wrong. That happened plenty before 9-11, happened to me several times both before and after 9-11, never resulting in anything more than a friendly conversation. It's no big deal, as long as he was polite and was not trying to make it into something it wasn't or approaching the situation with a chip on his shoulder. Here is a suggestion, and it is something I do. Take along a little business card with your name, number, and a link to your pictures. Invite the guy to check out what you are doing. He can go home, get on the internet, and see that you are just enjoying your time, and also that there are thousands of other crackpots out there doing the same thing. It's a way to educate them to the hobby.

Just remember, they are just doing their job, if it is done in this manner, and most of them probably do not understand or realize the hobby. When they start accusing, or telling you that you are doing something illegal, or stepping out of their bounds any other way, then it is a different issue. That's when I get pissed, and there will be letters written to supervisors questioning why their employees feel the need to thwart my rights. If they aren't looking for a challenge, just checking out the situation, fine. If looking for a challenge, they'll have one, because I will not sidestep my rights simply because someone does not think I should be doing what I am doing, or doesn't like what I am doing.

Last time this happened to me about two months ago, we were rolled up upon at a crossing, they were polite, even told us to go about taking our shots while they called us in, just so we wouldn't miss anything. When they found out we were not wanted, they bid us farewell.

I welcome it, only if it is friendly and they don't hassle, because now the next time that cop sees me at that crossing, which will happen again, he'll know I am just out taking pics, may not even stop, you never know.
__________________
WTFWDD

Click on n691lf.rrpicturearchives.net for a good laugh and waste of your time.

Last edited by 4kV; 07-21-2005 at 04:32 AM.
4kV is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-21-2005, 12:56 AM   #3
mbates
Member
 
mbates's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2005
Location: Dallas, TX
Posts: 36
Default Post 9-11

Ever since 9-11, I've made it a point to carry extra business cards
around with me.
When I'm around the tracks and meet a train crew or other railroad employees, I introduce myself and give them my card. They usually
remember me.
I make it a point to stay visible yet out of the way. Like most railfans
I'm an extra set of eyes and ears who will report something weird going on.
Sometimes the police stops and says hello, sometimes they check
my ID, and that's OK.
As long as I'm not being hassled by some "Barney Fife" or jacked up by a SWAT team and hauled off to jail, I don't mind the checks.
If we return to our pre 9-11 relaxation, we run the risk of a repeat.
__________________
Click here to view my photos:

http://www.railpictures.net/showphotos.php?userid=7338

MB
mbates is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-21-2005, 12:58 AM   #4
NicTrain35
Senior Member
 
NicTrain35's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Joliet, IL
Posts: 758
Default Police

When I'm out train watching, cops will sometimes come by and ask "Hey what are you guys doing?", or "You guys OK?". I tell them that I love trains, and I love to photograph them. When I tell them, most of them are very understanding. I never trespass. I have been on public property and have been ran out of a place though. It was rediculous. I do understand that it's a cop's job to make sure everything is safe.
__________________
Nick Hart
Joliet, IL

My pictures at RP:
http://www.railpictures.net/showphotos.php?userid=3955
NicTrain35 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-21-2005, 03:11 AM   #5
KCSRailfan119
Junior Member
 
KCSRailfan119's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: Brandon, MS
Posts: 17
Send a message via AIM to KCSRailfan119 Send a message via Yahoo to KCSRailfan119
Default

I have been questioned about my intentions only twice, once by West Monroe PD (La) and once by a rent-a-cop who's job is to do a roll-by for the stack trains as they pass through downton Jackson (Ms).

With the West Monroe incident, i was questioned by not 1, not 2, but 3 different officers. One looked like he just started shaving, the other just got out of the police academy, and the 3rd was actually the Shift Commander on duty. I had a ball cap on backwards while i was shooting, then when the Captain (Shift Commander) started asking me and my buddy what we were up to I turned my cap around right and he noticed it had the name of my Fire Dept on it. He asked if I was a volunteer FF or a career FF. I told him that i was the same as him, A career Captain, also a shift commander, and explained to him our hobby of RR photgraphy. Before he even said a word, I had my Driver's License out so he could run it and verify I wasn't a member of the Taliban or Al-Queda. He was very polite, after he found out i was a public servant just like him. I was very pleasant and he left us, no harm, no foul.

As for the rent-a-cop, I didn't have much contact with him because the conductor of the freight i was shooting got off to line a switch and he told the rent-a-cop, "Leave that fella alone, he ain't hurting nothing." We all laughed, even the security guard.

Moral to the story, be polite and courteous, even if they try and tell ya taking pictures of trains are illegal. Even have a few magazines with you, i.e. Trains, CTC Baord, etc. Like Mike said, if ya have business cards, bring them too. Just my 2 cents.......
__________________
Chris White
KCS Meridian Sub
Brandon, MS
Firefighter/Paramedic

http://www.railpictures.net/showphotos.php?userid=687
KCSRailfan119 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-21-2005, 03:15 AM   #6
RJSorensen
Senior Member
 
RJSorensen's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 177
Default

Shall we lose our freedom here, that we send our young men overseas to gain for others? I won't put up with hassle, this is not nor will it become a police state. That is why we keep the right to keep and bear arms. Humor them if you must . . . out west they are not as thick brow.
__________________
"No Soup For You . . . "

Please click here should you wish to view a portion of my railroad photography . . .
RJSorensen is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-21-2005, 03:28 AM   #7
trainmonster
Senior Member
 
trainmonster's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: Central Pa.
Posts: 378
Angry

Quote:
Originally Posted by RJSorensen
Shall we lose our freedom here, that we send our young men overseas to gain for others? I won't put up with hassle, this is not nor will it become a police state. That is why we keep the right to keep and bear arms. Humor them if you must . . . out west they are not as thick brow.
Right on!! I am going to shoot what I want, where I want and when. Period. Fortunately I am in Pa where things are pretty laid back-you are reading the reasons I left N.J.

I'm not afraid of terrorists-it's our own rulers that run me scared.

These threads piss me off-the terrorists have already won.

Rich
trainmonster is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-21-2005, 03:47 AM   #8
Ru1056
Senior Member
 
Ru1056's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Indianapolis IN
Posts: 438
Send a message via Yahoo to Ru1056
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by trainmonster
These threads piss me off-the terrorists have already won.
No, its a combination of the people who call 911 anonymously on their cell phones, believe too much of the crap Hollywood puts out and the police departments who create this type of attitude with the "Call us with anything suspicious" line.... "Hello police? There is a man down by the tracks with a gun pointing it at the trains just like in that movie". CLICK! When it is really a foamer just taking pictures.

It sounds like in this instance things went pretty well.
__________________
Billy

JREB.ORG. Moderated discussion forums about NS & CSX

Remember the ugly photo god.
Ru1056 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-21-2005, 04:22 AM   #9
Ween
Senior Member
 
Ween's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 4,861
Default

Quote:
Take along a little business card with your name, number, and a link to your pictures.
I think we just found a good 'bone' to throw people who become RP Elite members: business cards! Yeah!

As far as being stopped, I show my ID card and that quells any concerns about me being a terrorist...
__________________
Ween is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-21-2005, 05:11 AM   #10
SD70MAC
HOBO
 
SD70MAC's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 371
Default

LOL I like that idea Ween...Anyways how about making some signs with a stake to stick into the ground and you can write "WATCHING TRAINS" Hell maybe even through some brochures in a cardboard box and if they have any other questions they will be answered in the brochure.
SD70MAC is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-21-2005, 04:20 PM   #11
mbates
Member
 
mbates's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2005
Location: Dallas, TX
Posts: 36
Talking No Hassle @ 9000 ft

I could drop leaflets ... at 9000 ft they can't even see the plane ...
__________________
Click here to view my photos:

http://www.railpictures.net/showphotos.php?userid=7338

MB
mbates is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-21-2005, 04:26 PM   #12
KCSRailfan119
Junior Member
 
KCSRailfan119's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: Brandon, MS
Posts: 17
Send a message via AIM to KCSRailfan119 Send a message via Yahoo to KCSRailfan119
Default

Thats the best idea yet Mike. Better watch our for Barksdale AFB at Bossier, might intercept ya with a KC-135 tanker or maybe a stealth or 2. Great shots from Deramus.
__________________
Chris White
KCS Meridian Sub
Brandon, MS
Firefighter/Paramedic

http://www.railpictures.net/showphotos.php?userid=687
KCSRailfan119 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-21-2005, 11:31 PM   #13
ddavies
Senior Member
 
ddavies's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: Fairfax, VA
Posts: 381
Cool

I keep a couple magazines with my photos in my camera bag.

Actually, the files at Homeland Security are FULL of railfans being stopped. Wonder when an analyst will see a trend (if the files are even submitted for analysis).
ddavies is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-22-2005, 01:48 AM   #14
cmherndon
Banned
 
cmherndon's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2003
Location: Lawrenceburg, KY
Posts: 883
Send a message via AIM to cmherndon Send a message via Yahoo to cmherndon
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by ddavies
Actually, the files at Homeland Security are FULL of railfans being stopped. Wonder when an analyst will see a trend (if the files are even submitted for analysis).
Well, you know once this makes the news, then all railfans will probably be labeled as terrorists (and then again maybe not). We all know how local and national news sources like to exaggerate. Who'd have thought that something so innocent as taking pictures of trains could be so sinister?
cmherndon is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-22-2005, 01:53 AM   #15
busyEMT
Senior Member
 
busyEMT's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2003
Location: Minneapolis
Posts: 902
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by rlfranz
I asked if I was doing anything wrong and in so many words said "no, but I'll have to check you out anyway. If everything comes back OK then I'll destroy all of this information."
What information was he talking about?

Quote:
Originally Posted by 4kV
Last time this happened to me about two months ago, we were rolled up upon at a crossing, they were polite, even told us to go about taking our shots while they called us in, just so we wouldn't miss anything.
This is how being polite and cooperative can pay-off. It happened to me the first time I was visited by police.

I stay visible, off railroad property and keep my camera seen.
__________________
Aaron Florin- Click Here to view my photos at RailPictures.Net!
Visit Twin Cities Railfan.com
Visit the Twin Cities Railfan forums.

Don't do anything you wouldn't want to explain to the paramedics!
busyEMT is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-22-2005, 02:07 AM   #16
Pat Lorenz
Senior Member
 
Pat Lorenz's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Tucson, AZ
Posts: 326
Default

The best thing to do about cops is just shake it off, they just want to make sure your not doing anything to the tracks and such. I have been questioned on numerous occassions but it was never a big deal, i just told them what i was doing and why i do it and the cop runs the plates on my car only to find a clean record. Usually i carry a magizine to show them the result of what i am doing (even though i am not published) i also have my camera set up and a scanner running so that way they know that i am experianced in the feild. Just stay calm, dont present yourself in a suspicious/ nervoius way. All the times i have been questioned it wasnt a big deal. I usually ask if they want me to leave the area, because i would just go somewhere else, but most of the time they are just curious and many have been quite interested, most of them dont even know about railfanning/ photography of trains so its nice, for me, to educate them about this great hobby. Street police are usually not a big deal or problem, its the railroad police who are the guys that turn a small situation into a huge deal. I have never gotten questioned by a RR Cop but i know people who have and they say its not plesent thing.
Pat Lorenz is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-23-2005, 12:07 AM   #17
rlfranz
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2005
Posts: 20
Default Polite, etc.

I would assume that the information he was talking about destroying was related to my ID and the reason for the stop.

You are absolutely correct about being polite and not appearing to be a dodgy character makes all the difference in the world. These guys can smell fear and nervousness.

In an attempt to avoid any chance of trespassing on railroad property, I had a situation today where I got stuck in some mud up to the axles and had to call a tow truck to winch me out. Fortunately there was no damage to my vehicle other than some nasty, smelly mud on it.

While I was waiting for the tow truck a city officer happened by. The usual "may I see your ID" conversation ensued. He asked how this happened and I told him straight away that I was attempting to get off the road to take some photos of trains and got too far to the side of the road and got mired in a ditch in some really gooey mud. He did not bat an eye or ask any question about my intent to take pictures of trains. Most unlike the state boy that I originally wrote about.

Oh well, live and learn.

Thanks to all that have commented. I don't feel so 'singled out' now.

Last edited by rlfranz; 07-23-2005 at 12:08 AM. Reason: spelling
rlfranz is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-26-2005, 09:41 PM   #18
Slopes09
Senior Member
 
Slopes09's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2005
Location: Here.
Posts: 837
Send a message via AIM to Slopes09
Default

I think it all depends on who you run into. I just had my first run in with a railroad cop today. Me and my uncle took a trip out to Dolton, and an IHB officer came by and started talking to us. He even told us when the next train should be coming through. Maybe I'll try and get some of those shots posted once I get them back tommorow.
Slopes09 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-26-2005, 09:58 PM   #19
LAHDPOP
Senior Member
 
LAHDPOP's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2005
Location: Indiana
Posts: 299
Default

I had great luck with an IHB Cop at Dolton, too, a couple summers ago. I had heard all about how strict, and "unfriendly" IHB cops were, and it just wasn't the case. It helps that I'm Air Force, and he was ex-Air Force, but he still could have been a PITA.

Over the last couple years or so, I've had encounters with several city cops, deputies, and RR police. One of the RR police was even escorting a special military move that I was pacing. Never once has it gotten unfriendly. It's amazing what good old-fashioned courtesy, respect, and politeness will do for you.
LAHDPOP is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-30-2005, 06:25 PM   #20
hoydie17
We Own The Night...
 
hoydie17's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2005
Location: Centreville, VA
Posts: 799
Send a message via AIM to hoydie17 Send a message via Yahoo to hoydie17
Default Some things I do.

I have a binder with about 50 pictures in it, if I get questioned, which has happened to me alot lately. Once they get a look at the pictures, they usually understand that I do this consistently. Word of caution though, don't have pictures in it that one could suggest you were in a restricted area taking the picture.

I also give them a copy of my business card from my office. It plainly identifies me as a member of the military, and that I work for the Intelligence Community. My office actually encourages us to distribute our business cards liberally, so to help us expand our "network of associates."

Every now and then, I flag down the police as well, especially if I'm in a new area, and try to strike up shop talk with them. I've found that you can "steal their thunder" a little if you preempt them first. It shows that you're not intimidated by their presence and are willing to talk to them if need be. Plus they'll remember you next time, should there be a next time.

Also, If I'm in a new area, or new yard, I will typically walk into the yard office, and talk to the TM or yard clerk. Inquire as to the best public spots to watch trains from, and give a copy, or two, or three of my b-card.

Sometimes they give pretty good tidbits of info, and in a few cases, I've managed to snag a "nickel tour" of the yard, including 1 offer to ride along with the TM to get a picture of a pair of unpatched CNW engines, which I turned down since I didn't want to risk getting him in trouble. I also tell them how long I plan on being in the area.

It's worked for me so far. Only been asked to leave a yard one time, but they still let me shoot my pictures first.
__________________
See my work on FLICKR: Night Stalker Photo Works on FLICKR

Or if you want to see my work here at RP.net? Click here.

"It's just a damn train son!"
hoydie17 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-30-2005, 10:31 PM   #21
bnsf sammy
Senior Member
 
bnsf sammy's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 638
Default

I have been asked what I am doing taking photos at railroad tracks two times. The first one was at Cajon Summit with about 10 people. If anyone has ever been to Summit, then you know there is a railroad police area at the crossing. He wanted to know what we were up to, and he left us alone. The second time was at an Amtrak station around San Diego. My friend and I were taking video and pictures of trains. A station gaurd came over to us and told us that we couldnt take video or photos of the trains, and we had to abort filming and taking pics.
__________________
BNSF SAMMY
Click Here to view my photos at RailPictures.Net!
bnsf sammy is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-04-2005, 02:57 AM   #22
hoydie17
We Own The Night...
 
hoydie17's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2005
Location: Centreville, VA
Posts: 799
Send a message via AIM to hoydie17 Send a message via Yahoo to hoydie17
Default Cajon/San Diego

Are you talking about the old Santa Fe station in the downtown Gaslamp Quarter? When I was there the security guy pointed out a spot that he "thought" was the best angle. (not so much though)

I know what you're talking about up in Cajon, I was there back in May/June timeframe and got questioned by the BNSF rent-a-cops for being up in Summit near the tracks. He still made me leave, and tried to confiscate my "Adventure Pass" which I refused to surrender to a security guard unless he gave me the $5 I paid for it. I came back later but made sure never to actually step on the road that ran next to the tracks, all he could do was drive by shaking his head since I was within the rules by being "off the road".

FYI, if you're railfanning in Cajon it is wise to buy the Adventure Pass from the nearby Chevron Station out on Rt 123. Even if they never ask about it, it'll save you a butt-load in fines for being on park service roads without permission. I bought mine and never even rubbed off the dates, figured I'd do it when the cop was approaching. I think it's still in my camera bag too. LOL
__________________
See my work on FLICKR: Night Stalker Photo Works on FLICKR

Or if you want to see my work here at RP.net? Click here.

"It's just a damn train son!"
hoydie17 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-17-2005, 04:21 PM   #23
bnsf sammy
Senior Member
 
bnsf sammy's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 638
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by hoydie17
Are you talking about the old Santa Fe station in the downtown Gaslamp Quarter?
this was in solana beach
__________________
BNSF SAMMY
Click Here to view my photos at RailPictures.Net!
bnsf sammy is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-17-2005, 05:13 PM   #24
jweber33
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Location: Southern California
Posts: 108
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by bnsf sammy
this was in solana beach
I've never been hassled in Solana Beach. If it gets bad, rememvber that a new pedestrian bridge is being built over the tracks at Dahlia Drive.
jweber33 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-17-2005, 09:57 PM   #25
bnsf sammy
Senior Member
 
bnsf sammy's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 638
Default

it all depends on the secerity guard. Some of them will talk to me, some wont, and some will ask me what i am doing. Some are nice some arent.
__________________
BNSF SAMMY
Click Here to view my photos at RailPictures.Net!
bnsf sammy is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is On

Forum Jump


All times are GMT. The time now is 07:24 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.1
Copyright ©2000 - 2020, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.