Attorney Charley Foster on Taking Close-up Pictures of Police

Kauai attorney Charley Foster had the following to say about the post earlier asking about “Close-up photos” of police officers:

I don’t have a definitive answer. I don’t find any law against it, but proving a negative and all…

Nationally, there are a couple of notable cases in the news. An intriguing piece in the Seattle Times from 2007 reports that –

An amateur photographer who was taken into custody last year after shooting pictures of two Seattle police officers making an arrest on a public street received an $8,000 settlement this week, the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington announced Thursday.

USA Today technology columnist Andrew Kantor in a piece about misinformation about photography rights recounted

…[T]he story of Neftaly Cruz, a senior at Penn State who on July 19 was not only harassed but taken into custody by Philadelphia police for obstructing an investigation. How did he do this? By taking pictures of the cops while standing on a public street.

Kantor concludes that-

Cruz’s actions were absolutely and undoubtedly legal, and not surprisingly he was released without being charged with anything.

Kantor has a pair of columns on the rights of photographers (here and here) in which he asserts that one is free to photograph just about anything or anyone that one can see out in public. According to Kantor, the test is whether the subject has a reasonable expectation of privacy. Thus, according to Kantor, using a long lens to capture someone purchasing medications in a pharmacy is probably a violation of their privacy, but photographing someone walking along the public street is absolutely protected.

If Kantor is correct and a reasonable expectation of privacy is the correct test as to who or what we can photograph in public, then I would imagine police officers carrying on their duties in public are fair game for photographers.

(The same applies to buildings, by the way. According to Kantor, aside from certain military installations, we are free to photograph any building we please and no one can legally stop us or take away or make us erase the images we have taken).

One Response

  1. So, does that mean you have some apologies on the way to you?

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