Topic Author
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Joined: Sat Jan 19, 2002 10:43 pm

Time For Panynj To Admit It Doesnt Like Spotters

Thu Oct 18, 2012 1:34 pm

Hey all,

After a recent incident at JFK, which just one of many, I am officially calling for NY/NJ's Port Authority to finally take a stance on our hobby, and photography in general. Even though spotting at JFK tends to be a great experience for many, it does not make the few terrible encounters tolerable.

You can read about it all here...

I would love to hear your thoughts and about challenging experiences you have had with law enforcement. We've all got to sick together so that we can practice the hobby that we love without harassment and mistreatment.


Phil Derner Jr.
Posts: 2174
Joined: Wed Oct 08, 2003 10:35 pm

RE: Time For Panynj To Admit It Doesnt Like Spotters

Thu Oct 18, 2012 5:00 pm

Great article. And the guy who was harassed by the plain clothed officers did exactly the right thing. I agree, there should be a uniform stance among the PANYNJ top brass/officers and it should be communicated to the passengers/visitors. I would continue to follow up with the incident and if necessary, pay them a visit on their turf. Phil, you are in a perfect position to follow up on an incident like this to help ensure the friendly relationship we have with the Port Authority. It make take some time, but a meeting with the "Chief" of police for that area should be possible, right? Hopefully, this will be resolved in a professional manor.

Regarding the location, there is always a chance they may return with a rule disallowing spotters/photographers from certain areas that are available now. Losing some of those shooting locations would be a heavy blow to the photographers and visitors that frequent the airport.
Slower traffic, keep right
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Joined: Wed Aug 15, 2001 9:24 am

RE: Time For Panynj To Admit It Doesnt Like Spotters

Thu Oct 18, 2012 8:01 pm

I really liked your article. It's time that we get vigiant on the police who try to hassle us. While I was reading the article (and corresponding post on that particular forum also), I was wondering if at some point the enthusiast should have asked firmly several times for proper identification from the plainclothes officers (I don't know how the law in NY is when it comes to officer Identification). Professionalism from officers should be the utmost responsibility and reporting officers and encounters should be encouraged! I felt really silly typing that but after reading the post, I just felt I had to put my 2 cents in.

In my opinion, I think there needs to be some communication between the PANY/NJ and spotters there about our activity and maybe try to get some sort of airport watch started there or some agreement going to protect our hobby. ORD has one and it has helped. The difference is that we have several police departments that partol the neighboring towns nearby the airport as well as Airport PD and Chicago Police, so it gets tough. This reminds me of another article I read that mentions photography as "Terrorist activity". The guy that was harassed did the right thing in general but the encounter should be reported to the Port Authority. I hope Phil and the other photographers there can get some agreement going about photography there. I want to visit NYC and get some pics.
"He was right, it is a screaming metal deathtrap!"-Cosmo (from the Fairly Oddparents)
Topic Author
Posts: 3874
Joined: Sat Jan 19, 2002 10:43 pm

RE: Time For Panynj To Admit It Doesnt Like Spotters

Thu Oct 18, 2012 11:49 pm

Thanks guys.

This is something that we are pushing, and we've spoken to a few major media outlets about the topic already. We will also be approaching PANYNJ about it to see what can come of this. Again, even if they officially ban photography on airport property, at least there is that guidance for spotters to no longer be mistreated. Most locations spotters employ are off-airport these days.

As for an Airport Watch program, PANYNJ has no interest in this, as many attempts have been made over the past 8 years to do so. We don't stop trying, but the red tape in this massive organization makke it difficult to implement at best.

I'll keep you posted with whatever goes on!

Phil Derner Jr.
Posts: 97
Joined: Sat Mar 06, 2010 11:09 am

RE: Time For Panynj To Admit It Doesnt Like Spotters

Fri Oct 19, 2012 12:31 pm

Strange, how different things work out over there across the ocean. Munich airport even offers three spotter hills for public. I really hope, you can work this out!
Posts: 1373
Joined: Tue Jun 27, 2000 5:01 am

RE: Time For Panynj To Admit It Doesnt Like Spotters

Fri Oct 19, 2012 3:04 pm

I've only had one run-in at JFK and it was with a Swissport employee, not Port Authority (inside Terminal 4, employee demanded I delete my photos). At LGA recently I had a US Airways employee tell me to stop taking pictures out the window as it's illegal.

After the Terminal 4 incident, I called PANYNJ's media relations department, told them of the incident and asked what their policy is. They stopped short of saying the Swissport employee was in the wrong, but at that time (about 5 years ago) this was their stated policy:

- They have knowledge that terrorists were inside the WTC prior to 9/11 doing surveillance and taking photographs and as such view photography with some level of suspicion.
- That said, photography is not illegal on Port Authority property.
- Photography is not permitted near TSA checkpoints
- Anyone seen taking pictures on Port Authority property should expect to show ID and provide an explanation of their actions to police

Has anyone else tried to call the Port Authority recently? My info is again about five years old and the policy may well have changed.

One major exception to the above is PATH, which has a clearly-stated anti-photography policy - you must have both a permit and a PATH escort to take pictures, and the escort can decide what you can/cannot take pictures of. PATH will even go after photographers taking pictures of their facilities/trains from public property. ACLU successfully fought a similar rule on New Jersey Transit but the PATH policy remains in effect.

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