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June 1, 2011

Police and photographers -- an uneasy mix

Fresh off a story about a teacher stopped by police for handing out leaflets promoting vegetarianism at the Inner Harbor, we get word of another problem -- train buffs stopped by police from taking pictures of, you guessed it, trains.

Mass Transit Police, referring to the Patriot Act and Sept. 11, told two photographers in Baltimore that taking pictures of trains such as the Light Rail was not allowed without permission.

The Sun's Mike Dresser documents the issues and notes that the Maryland ACLU is threatening a lawsuit. These issues just don't seem to go away. Here is Mike's full story and a video of one of the photographers posted on YouTube of his encounter with MTA police. 

Posted by Peter Hermann at 6:10 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: North Baltimore


This entire incident walks a very fine line between the rights of the individual and the rights of the population. If this guy was not approached and a month later blew up the train we would all be in an outrage. I agree the police should have asked him what was going on, however, I disagree with the fact that 9 officers approached this individual and didn't know the law they were trying to enforce themselves.

It is not illegal to photograph a train and it is not illegal to run a video camera that records sound in a public place (remember the guy on the motorcycle that was pulled over by the undercover cop who started to draw his gun? Yeah,t he cop lost his case in the MD courts).

If terrorists want pictures of our rail system they can use google maps and google street view. If they need up close photos, heck, all they have to do is stage a 'picture' of a friend and actually take a photo of whatevers in the background.

The guy did not need to show his ID, this is not NAZI Germany and we are not required to carry 'papers'. This is America, we are free here. Unless we are going to allow the threat of terrorists to take away our liberties the cops spent way to much man power on this one person.

We can't allow terrorists to control our lives.

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About Peter Hermann
Peter Hermann started covering news for The Baltimore Sun in 1990, first in Anne Arundel County and, starting in 1994, reporting on the Baltimore Police Department. In 2001, he was assigned to Jerusalem as the Baltimore Sun's Middle East correspondent. He returned in 2005 as an assistant city editor overseeing crime coverage. In 2008, Peter returned to the beat as a daily reporter and blogger. A recent BBC report featured him in a segment on the harsh realities of covering crime in Baltimore.

Coverage will focus on crime trends, problems in neighborhoods in the city and elsewhere, profiles of victims and police officers and try to offer readers a fresh perspective on one of the most vexing issues facing Baltimore and its future.

Contributing to this blog is Justin Fenton, who joined The Sun in 2005 and has covered the Baltimore City Police Department and the criminal justice system since 2008. His work includes an investigation into Cal Ripken Jr.’s minor league baseball stadium deal with his hometown of Aberdeen, a three-part series chronicling a ruthless con woman, coverage of the killing of five Amish children at a schoolhouse in Nickel Mines, Pa., and a job swap with a British crime reporter to explore differences in crime-fighting. A special report looking into how city police handle rape cases led to sweeping reforms that changed the way sexual assaults are investigated in Baltimore. He was recognized as the best reporter in Baltimore by the City Paper in 2010 and by Baltimore Magazine in 2011.

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