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Joined: Sat May 28, 2005 2:48 am

Police Interaction At MSP

Thu Jun 02, 2011 12:40 am

Having taken 4 or 5 years off from spotting, I attempted to revive my interest in this hobby last evening along the 30L arrival just inside Fort Snelling State Park. After photographing 3 arrivals, I was approached by an Airport Police Officer. He immediately asked me to leave the area, describing my photography as "suspicious." When I asked if aviation photography was illegal at this location, he stated that "it makes pilots nervous." He asked me to leave again, at which point I asked what law or ordinance I was violating. He had no answer, but was clearly very irritated with me in voice and body posture. As he was walking back to his cruiser, he said, "You keep taking pictures, but if I have to come back here to investigate a suspicious persons report, you are going to face some consequences." I photographed one more arrival, and walked back down the hill to my car. You'll have to take my word that I was very polite with him through the entire encounter.

I did collect the officer's name and badge number, and have drafted a constructive letter to the Airport Police Department asking for clarification about spotting in this location. Should I mail the letter? Will this only add fuel to the fire? I recognize there are other spotters at MSP, and I do not want to further jeopardize positive working relationships they may have with the police.

When I formerly spotted at this location, the police would stop to ask a few questions, but would move along. Have things changed this much in 4 years? Am I missing some law or ordinance that prohibits photography?

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RE: Police Interaction At MSP

Thu Jun 02, 2011 1:22 am

I have never had any problems at MSP. I've photographed from both parking garages and from the dog park.

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RE: Police Interaction At MSP

Thu Jun 02, 2011 2:58 am

Honestly sounds to me like someone was just having a bad day, and when i realized he could not pick on you, he left, still trying to intimidate you
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RE: Police Interaction At MSP

Thu Jun 02, 2011 6:12 am

See this thread:

Major LEO Encounter At Boston Today (by JohnJ May 25 2011 in Aviation Photography)

Fort Snelling State Park sounds to me like a public area, in which case there's no law stopping you taking photographs - irrespective of whether it makes pilots nervous (how would this beat cop know that?). It's okay being polite but if someone in authority is abusing the law then you have a right to stick up for yourself; even if that means being firm and becoming slightly heated yourself.

These people must remember that they are there to serve and protect YOU, not make a public enemy out of YOU. I'd go back there any time I felt like, knowing what you know now, and if some jumped up cop asks you to leave question under which piece of legislation. Also, remind him that a lawsuit for wrongful arrest won't look good on his career record. He'll soon go away if challenged.

Call their bluff. I always do here in the UK and it never fails.

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RE: Police Interaction At MSP

Thu Jun 02, 2011 11:32 am

Quoting 44Heavy (Thread starter):
"it makes pilots nervous."


I rather hope they'd be too busy, you know, landing their plane, to even notice a photographer!
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RE: Police Interaction At MSP

Thu Jun 02, 2011 1:11 pm

If you were in a public park, he had absolutely no right to tell you to stop taking pictures. Tough call as in my incident at BOS, as if you argue enough with them they could probably throw you in the clink and even give you a disorderly conduct charge or the like. Best to leave, get clarification from his management, then come back once you're told (as you should be) that photography is legal in a public spot. If the police management tells you photography in a public park is not legal, perhaps it's an issue that the ACLU would be interested in hearing about.

My BOS situation was slightly different in that I was on Massport property and I suppose they could reserve the right to limit or prohibit photography. But, as I was told by Massport management after the incident, photography is permitted on their property. That will be good ammo for me if I ever have problems there again.

Seems like things are getting worse out there. I hadn't had any major police encounters in a number of years until last week.

[Edited 2011-06-02 06:13:28]
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RE: Police Interaction At MSP

Thu Jun 02, 2011 1:18 pm

I have free long distance service, so for kicks I just called Ft. Snelling State Park. I was told photography is perfectly legal in the park. I asked if there were any restrictions, and the woman told me there were none unless it was a for-profit photo session, in which case a permit is required. So if you were indeed on park property sounds like the officer was well out of line. Definitely follow up on this.
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RE: Police Interaction At MSP

Fri Jun 03, 2011 10:47 pm

Was the OP on the hill of the Fort Snelling Nat'l Cemetery property or was he in the park south of Highway 5?
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RE: Police Interaction At MSP

Sat Jun 04, 2011 12:33 am

Quoting Brick (Reply 7):

I was in the park standing on the bike trail, SE of Highway 5, roughly 100 meters lateral of the 30L approach lights.
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RE: Police Interaction At MSP

Sun Jun 05, 2011 11:14 am

Quoting scbriml (Reply 4):

Fact, when I'm spotting at BRU I never noticed a pilot waving to me while landing HAHAHAH XD. I guess that police officer was having a bad day as said.

The TS was outside of the airport and not on airport premises but in an open park so Police can't do anything to him except if he would be 'lasering' the pilots. (This already happened at BRU and didn't really help other spotters' reputation)
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RE: Police Interaction At MSP

Tue Jun 07, 2011 2:40 am

Quoting Tomskii (Reply 9):
I guess that police officer was having a bad day as said.

My guess is that he has a 'bad day' EVERY day. We have to accept that a certain percentage of any PD will be jackasses, what the percentage actually is will vary by location.

If you're unlucky enough to be accosted by one of the above jackasses, it's a tough call and a personal one what to do and I won't criticize anyone for their choice. I would probably do what Jason did but definitely follow up by contacting someone higher up than a beat cop in the PD. Worst case is the bad attitude is confirmed so we know to cross that particular spot off the list. Sadly. Best case is the bad cop gets a talking-to.

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