Wednesday, April 29, 2009

NYPD General order #14 says it: You can take pictures in public


After numerous complaints over the past several years that police officers and commanders have been arbitrarily telling photographers, both press and non-press that they can’t take photos of buildings, at incidents and events for very little reason, the NYPD has finally issued through Commissioner Ray Kelly a document entitled General Order #14.

In this document, patrol officers are told that taking photos in public is both legal and expected in a city where tourism is important. Officers are also told they have no legal right to demand to look at images on a digital camera, nor do they have the right to demand photos be deleted. Officers cannot seize equipment unless it is connected with criminality.

Back in February, a photographer from the Daily News was handcuffed and ordered by police to tell officers how to delete images after he covered a car accident in Greenpoint, Brooklyn .

Despite giving in to their demands, he was arrested anyway and charged with disorderly conduct for taking photos. Charges were later dropped. Information that we have not been able to confirm indicates that officers were disciplined for these actions.

Also, rail fans have been harassed on subways for taking photos when the law specifically says that they can.

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