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Thread: LGA - World’s Fair Marina July 5th 2011 - FBI / NYPD Joint Terrorism Task Force

  1. #1
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    FBI / NYPD Joint Terrorism Task Force - LGA - World’s Fair Marina July 5th 2011

    Today I was faced with a whole new experience and it was not just the typical NYPD or Nassau patrol cars.

    Last week after work from my way home, it was a gorgeous afternoon and LGA was on 31 for arrivals so I decided to take advantage and get some shots.

    After about an hour and half an NYPD car pulled up next to me as I was standing by my car shooting. Of course I knew what I was in for. Right away I said my hellos and the questioning started as usual, what do I do, what am I taking photos of and on and on .. After a good 25 min of speaking and checking my ID and car registration, everything was just fine, they said someone called and they were concerned, the officers were extremely cool and went on their way and told me to enjoy the rest of my time.

    No less than 15 min later they returned and said they have a request from me, I said sure, how may I help you guys ? 1st officer goes, sorry to be a pain man, but as we were on our way out we were stopped again by some civilians and they are not happy with you are doing this here, can you just do us a favor and come back tom or something? Of course I said sure, right away sir, I will leave for your respect and I know you are doing your job. So I packed up right away and left.

    Today, around 2sh I get a call from my father saying, hey why were there 2 men here just now at the house looking for you from this task force? They spoke to my father and said my plates were called in on a white Ford Mustang which was spotted around LGA last week doing "suspicious activities" ! My dad goes may I ask what type of activity ? As soon as they mentioned taking pictures, he knew to tell them that its my hobby and that is all to it. One officer handed him a business card and said please have him call us right away so we can settle this with him. BTW the reason they showed up at my parents house is because my car is still registered in that address and they showed up at their door.

    I call the officer right away on his cell which was on his card, introduced my self and he knew right away who I was. He was a total gentlemen from the start, the questioning started, about the whole hobby, why do I do it, where do I post my photos and on and on ... After 15 minutes of talking he thanked me for my cooperation and answering all his questions and even said sorry if we scared your dad by showing up to the house.

    At the end he mentioned that a civilian had called my plates in to this 800 # for terrorism concerns ( I wonder which civilian that was ) and they wanted to make sure everything was ok, before he hung up, I was asked if they can stop by my house in Queens and have a look at my photos. I said with pleasure sir, here is when I get home from work and this is my cell that I am calling you on, please feel free to call or just stop by any time you like when I am not at work and I will be more than happy to go over everything with you and show you all my photos.

    Just wanted to share this with you all, it is unreal that to what measure someone would go to start something, you call the cops, they show up, everything is cool, they leave, but yet you get me kicked out and I leave but NO, you have to take it to the next level !

    If they do decide to show up at my house, I will keep you posted !
    Last edited by Roush6NY; 07-11-2011 at 04:52 PM.
    Kaz T

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  2. #2
    Senior Member lijk604's Avatar
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    Kaz, I feel for ya. About four years ago I had some time to kill and got lunch at a local deli. That happened to be on the approach path for Rwy24 at Islip. I grabbed the two SWA 737's and the US Express Dash 8, and left. Thinking nothing except, wow I caught a few airplanes when I least expected it. I was there maybe 15 minutes tops. A week later my wife gets a phone call that some FBI guys are looking to talk to me, and she wants to know what's up. Honestly at this point I had no clue, however they left a number, and I called the guy. He asked if I would be home the next day, and I told him how long I would be home before I went to work.

    Next day comes and I get a knock on my house door at 8am from him, and he was flashing his badge, and he asked if he could come in. I let him in, and he asks if that was my car in the driveway. Now I'm getting nervous, because I still have no idea what was up. I asked him did I do anything wrong, and he looks at me and humbly says, someone called in your car & lic plates, and some suspicious activity near Islip airport. I think I shocked him when my response was, "OH, I just finished editing and printing those pictures!" I actually ran to the printer and brought them to show him. He shook his head, and said "I'm sorry I had to bother you, but we have to follow up on all calls." I told him I completely understood, and was sorry for troubling him. He said, hey it's all good, have a nice day and left.

    Thankfully, I haven't heard another word about it since. Amazing, 10 years later, and they are going after those of us who are out in the open enjoying a nice day. Meanwhile those who mean harm are hiding in the shadows because no one is looking there. Ah well....at least "they" didn't win.

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    Senior Member Zee71's Avatar
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    After reading both your stories, I am much more convienced that we should have some sort of Spotting ID (just like the Canadains do), they could do whatever background checks, etc.. They could enter us in some sort of Spotters database, this way don't waste time and expending resources on spotters enjoying their hobby, not to mention we would be an extension to law enforcement as another set of eyes.
    Mark
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    Senior Member moose135's Avatar
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    About three years ago, I was out at HoBe one morning shooting departures with an out-of-town guest (a Cathay F/O in fact) when NYPD rolled up on us - 4 plainclothes cops in an old, unmarked Buick. They checked us out, patted us down, and recorded our info. 20 minutes later (after a couple of marked RMPs arrived) they wished us well and went on their way. Three or four days later, I get a call on my cell (and there is conflicting stories on how they got my cell) from an FBI agent out of the JFK office. Apparently NYPD had filed a report with them, and they had to follow up on it. They offered to meet me at home - but I didn't want them coming to my house - so we ended up meeting at Roosevelt Field. Two agents in an SUV, they had all kinds of background info on me - beyond what they would get from the driver's license I gave NYPD. They asked about my photos, what I do with them, etc. They kept telling me I hadn't done anything wrong, and wasn't under arrest, but they needed to follow up...I guess the whole thing took about 15 or 20 minutes. They did say that if they ever got a report on my again, I was "in the system" so they would know I was safe.

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    Senior Member megatop412's Avatar
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    These are some crazy stories. We always talk about our run-ins while at the location, but to have follow up contact with them coming to people's houses???

    Several months before Swissair 111, I had all my personal info taken down by the PAPD spotting over by the post office of all places(I was still 'new' and looking for spots to take pictures from). So this dude driving a front end loader comes over to my car and asks me if I'm from OSHA. I said I had no idea what OSHA was. Within a few minutes I had NYPD and PAPD blocking me in. I remember the PAPD cop saying "We know who you are now- if anything happens to any of these planes, expect a visit from us". Then the crash happened, and I waited anxiously for the promised "visit". Which never happened.

  6. #6
    Senior Member NIKV69's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zee71 View Post
    After reading both your stories, I am much more convienced that we should have some sort of Spotting ID (just like the Canadains do), they could do whatever background checks, etc.. They could enter us in some sort of Spotters database, this way don't waste time and expending resources on spotters enjoying their hobby, not to mention we would be an extension to law enforcement as another set of eyes.
    Though a great idea in theory PA or NCPD probably won't want to be bothered and it will probably never be put in practice. I also feel we shouldn't have to go to this effort to do something like take pictures in a public place.

    Great story I had homeland security come to my house, it was cool. Good to see they are running down all things that seem suspicious to the public.
    'My idea of a good picture is one that's in focus and of a famous person doing something unfamous.' Andy Warhol

  7. #7
    Administrator PhilDernerJr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zee71 View Post
    After reading both your stories, I am much more convienced that we should have some sort of Spotting ID (just like the Canadains do), they could do whatever background checks, etc.. They could enter us in some sort of Spotters database, this way don't waste time and expending resources on spotters enjoying their hobby, not to mention we would be an extension to law enforcement as another set of eyes.
    No authority is willing to do this. It's been discussed a lot and explained here a lot and it's unfortunately unable to be a reality in NYC at this time. Even if NYCA made cards, it wouldn't be recognized or respected in anyway by law enforcement, and it would only add liability to us. :(
    Email me anytime at [email protected].

  8. #8
    Administrator PhilDernerJr's Avatar
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    As for Kaz's story, it's a shame, but something that will happen now and again. Thankfully, he handled it wonderfully, being respectful and cooperative.

    I had JTTF show up at my house once as well, and 99% of it is that they just need to do their job and be sure. Both sides are usually cool, we help each other out and walk apart feeling pleased that all is well.
    Email me anytime at [email protected].

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    Junior Member RED's Avatar
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    This is pretty insane. Im a long time lingerer here constantly skimming the forums to possibly learn some techniques and what not, but after reading this im not so sure I want to go spotting anymore lol.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Phil D. View Post
    we help each other out and walk apart feeling pleased that all is well.
    Could have not said it better, Phil !
    Kaz T

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    Quote Originally Posted by RED View Post
    This is pretty insane. Im a long time lingerer here constantly skimming the forums to possibly learn some techniques and what not, but after reading this im not so sure I want to go spotting anymore lol.
    Red, I am pretty new to this hobby my self, I started last Dec. This should not make you NOT want to go out spotting. We are not doing anything wrong or illegal. As long as you stick with the locations given to you on the site you have nothing to worry about. If you do run into the law in any way, all you have to do is RESPECT what they say and ask you to do and you have nothing to worry about.

    Yes this experience did shock me a little yesterday, not going to lie, but, I know I have not done anything wrong and I did what I had to in every way to make sure both sides were happy. This will in NO way keep me from heading out there, I will be back again sometime this week after work and this weekend as usual and enjoy my hobby that I love !
    Kaz T

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    Quote Originally Posted by arealairlinepilot View Post
    I've got to be honest guys I'm truly glad that people are taking action against things they find worrisome. I know this isn't going to be a popular post but honestly I find it odd that some people spend so much time hanging around airports taking pictures and tracking registrations of aircraft. I understand it's a hobby for some, honestly why I'm not sure, I can't see the importance of knowing that you saw aircraft X at JFK on this date but to each his own. What I can say is I understand why nervous citizens would make such phone calls. I know that I would hate to lose 150 of my passengers and myself because some terrorist knew that you guys did this and was able to park next to a runway all day with weapons and no one thought to call and have them checked out. I'm an aviation geek like the rest of you, I think airplane is one of the most beautiful things man has ever created but it's playing with fire lurking around airports snapping pictures of us all day, it just seems like a lot of risk just to take some pictures that may or most likely may not end up on airliners.net or jetphotos. With the exception of the administrator of this site who clearly has been able to make a living of his hobby which I think is great it seems best to keep looky loos away from the airports. There are far too many unstable people out there who could do a lot of harm if things like this are not considerate threats. I truly don't mean this post to in any way offend anyone this is just the opinion of someone on the other side of the lens.
    I don't have a problem with somebody calling the athourities when they see something that looks suspicious to them. And yes, eventhough I am an avid spotter I can see [to a point] some people [who don't know what we're about] finding it suspicious that we're pointing our cameras at the panes all day long. But, as this post showed, that even after someone called the police and the police did their job and that person left, they still appeared to persue it.

    Us as spotters sitting in PUBLIC areas around the airport, are not doing anything wrong and are actually an asset to the airports. There are not always police or airport security around and therefore we may see and capture [on camera] something they may not when they are not there.
    Steve Furst

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    Quote Originally Posted by arealairlinepilot View Post
    I've got to be honest guys I'm truly glad that people are taking action against things they find worrisome. I know this isn't going to be a popular post but honestly I find it odd that some people spend so much time hanging around airports taking pictures and tracking registrations of aircraft. I understand it's a hobby for some, honestly why I'm not sure, I can't see the importance of knowing that you saw aircraft X at JFK on this date but to each his own. What I can say is I understand why nervous citizens would make such phone calls. I know that I would hate to lose 150 of my passengers and myself because some terrorist knew that you guys did this and was able to park next to a runway all day with weapons and no one thought to call and have them checked out. I'm an aviation geek like the rest of you, I think airplane is one of the most beautiful things man has ever created but it's playing with fire lurking around airports snapping pictures of us all day, it just seems like a lot of risk just to take some pictures that may or most likely may not end up on airliners.net or jetphotos. With the exception of the administrator of this site who clearly has been able to make a living of his hobby which I think is great it seems best to keep looky loos away from the airports. There are far too many unstable people out there who could do a lot of harm if things like this are not considerate threats. I truly don't mean this post to in any way offend anyone this is just the opinion of someone on the other side of the lens.
    Wow. All I can say to this is wow. Steve hit the nail directly on the head in his response. I highly doubt someone's going to lose a plane and its passengers because someone took a picture IN A WIDE OPEN PUBLIC PLACE. I'd be more concerned with someone really hiding out and sneaking about the way they look at aircraft than a bunch of dudes out in the open. Plus, as Steve said, we are a bit of an added security measure. We've built a decent rapport with the local PDs and they for the most part know we'd be the first to phone in something suspicious.

    Now, tell us about your hobby. I'd like the chance to crap all over it as you've done to ours.
    R.I.P. Matt Molnar 1979-2013
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    Senior Member Zee71's Avatar
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    I've got to be honest guys I'm truly glad that people are taking action against things they find worrisome. I know this isn't going to be a popular post but honestly I find it odd that some people spend so much time hanging around airports taking pictures and tracking registrations of aircraft. I understand it's a hobby for some, honestly why I'm not sure, I can't see the importance of knowing that you saw aircraft X at JFK on this date but to each his own. What I can say is I understand why nervous citizens would make such phone calls. I know that I would hate to lose 150 of my passengers and myself because some terrorist knew that you guys did this and was able to park next to a runway all day with weapons and no one thought to call and have them checked out. I'm an aviation geek like the rest of you, I think airplane is one of the most beautiful things man has ever created but it's playing with fire lurking around airports snapping pictures of us all day, it just seems like a lot of risk just to take some pictures that may or most likely may not end up on airliners.net or jetphotos. With the exception of the administrator of this site who clearly has been able to make a living of his hobby which I think is great it seems best to keep looky loos away from the airports. There are far too many unstable people out there who could do a lot of harm if things like this are not considerate threats. I truly don't mean this post to in any way offend anyone this is just the opinion of someone on the other side of the lens.
    For me..........I've been an aviation geek since my teen years, I've also been into photography as well. Now I've combined my two passions (thus spotting and avaition photography). As an analogy I would compare it to collecting baseball cards of certain teams (in this case the fleet for Jet Blue, etc.) or certain players (in this case those unique schemes, inaugural flight, etc.). Over time those images photographed capture aviation history (airliners that have come and gone, aircraft that no longer fly the skies or sit at the terminal gates awaiting for their next departure, etc.). I am thankful to those individuals that make the call, because they are vigilant as opposed to those that drive by and don't say a word. Having spotters in my view aides local and airport authorities.

    I find spotters to be normal. What I find odd is those individuals that pay big bucks to see some golfer (like at the US Open), hit a ball with some oddly shaped stick, and then they follow him or her to see the individual then try to hit the ball in a cup that is hundreds of yards away, and they do this eighteen times. That's odd to me!!! (just a crude example).

    To my fellow spotters............spot on!!!!
    Mark
    Queens, NY

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    My photos at: JetPhotos and ANet

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    Quote Originally Posted by arealairlinepilot View Post
    it just seems like a lot of risk just to take some pictures that may or most likely may not end up on airliners.net or jetphotos.
    I respect that you have YOUR opinion about spotting or spotters, everyone has the right to talk, BUT DO NOT EVER COME ON HERE AND PUT ANY OF OUR TALENTS DOWN, every single person on this site that snaps a single photo is an artist and THEY all have some of the most beautiful photos I have ever seen, HECK I have learned pretty much everything I know about photography alone from all my friends on here and I owe it to them, And no, we do not just take our photos for airliners or jetphotos, but if you wanna take it to that level, there is a reason why OUR group has 17,351 photos in jetphotos database alone !
    Kaz T

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