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Thread: 12/31/11 Seattle Tacoma International Firestation

  1. #1
    Senior Member Kris V's Avatar
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    12/31/11 Seattle Tacoma International Firestation

    Hello all I hope to inform you that on my recent Seattle trip I had a run in with the police while spotting with my Bud near the Airport Fire-station.
    Here is what clearly happened, (Nothing bad)

    My Bud and I were about 20-30feet away from the fence.
    Ford Crown Victoria Police Interceptor flashes its lights when we near the vehicle in which was are ride.
    The officer comes and asks what we were doing, My Bud said we were taking pictures of aircraft,
    and let the officer go through his pictures. She stated that Airplane photography was not allowed because of 911.
    A traditional run down on his Moms vehicles license plate and we were asked to leave...
    Earlier a TSA guy came over to us near the Delta hanger and asked how was are pictures...we said very good.

    Don't know if its normal to not be allowed to spot at the Fire-station though.

  2. #2
    Senior Member megatop412's Avatar
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    I'm sorry to hear about your experience, there are many stories out there about police encounters while plane spotting, I guess the best advice is not to argue with law enforcement and not make a tough situation worse. However, you should know that airplane photography is not illegal "because of 9/11", that's basically an excuse used in the hopes that you will just give up your hobby. I'm not sure about SEA but there are people here who have spotted there before that could be more informative about that area. I hope to go to that area one day to get a shot of the infamous N7470.

    The bottom line is, use common sense, don't be confrontational, but use EVERY opportunity to educate about our hobby and how this is a labor of love. My thinking is that we are extra eyes for them, and we work for free!

  3. #3
    Senior Member Kris V's Avatar
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    Thanks you for the advice, so far the best area with no law enforcememnt confrontions is is on 188th street. Have to try out the others next time I am in SEA...living in Alaska, I never had a problem with security while spotting.

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    Senior Member gonzalu's Avatar
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    Here are the basic questions you need to ALWAYS be prepared with whenever doing anything that is NOT ILLEGAL and confronted by law enforcement in any situation:

    --BE POLITE
    --Be engaging and forthcoming
    --DO NOT EVER LIE
    --Greet with Sir or Officer on EVERY SENTENCE
    --As soon as the officer starts to "interrogate" especially if in a condescending manner, ask questions:
    ++ Officer, may I ask what law am I breaking, if any?
    --If officer continues to press on, state clearly that "Taking Pictures in Public of Public Areas is Not Illegal"
    --If you are being asked to do something that you do not have to do such as show your pictures, politely decline if you wish to do so. The officer has no right to look at your pictures, ever.
    --The LEO has the right to formally charge you with a criminal offense and arrest you. You MUST BE TOLD why and why you are being arrested.
    --You must ask if you are free to go or not. You MUST ask this question, they will not voluntarily give you that right.
    --NO ONE is allowed to take your property. Even a sitting judge can;t do it unless you are brought to his/her court under indictment from a grand jury and/or a county prosecutor pressing charges after being formally arrested and formally charged.
    --Do not let yourself be scared into giving up your rights.
    --BE POLITE AND RESPECTFUL and forthcoming and engaging at all times.

    If told you are not supposed to be somewhere, state that you will leave. If you are asked to stay by an Officer, COMPLY IMMEDIATELY and stay put and IMMEDIATELY ask if you are free to go. IF not free to go, ask why. Continually ask if you are doing something illegal and as long as all you are doing is taking pictures of airplanes, you are NOT doing anythign illegal. Make sure you state that.... POLITELY!

    Your intention should ALWAYS be to have the ability to go home and NOT get arrested for ANYTHING. Goal number two is to get another day of spotting in the very near future :-)

    A police Officer in all states in the US have the right to arrest and detain you against your will for a certain period of time without formally charging you. You must be charged or let go within a certain period of time. This varies state to state. This is the difference between a Security Officer and a Police Officer. A cop can detain you, a security officer MUST arrest you as a Citizens Arrest and carry it through with charges, they are NOT allowed to hold you or even stand in your way for too long as long as you are in a public space.

    Those are just some of your rights... you have many just like there are hundreds of misdemeanors and minor violations you can be charged for and even arrested for. Some are simply a summons to appear in court. My point is, you have to be good with the law and LEOs, but you also can;t just be scared into giving up your rights. Make sure you are NOT EVER Trespassing and / or taking pictures of sensitive areas. It is ILLEGAL to point a camera at an active military facility or base. You will get arrested aor worse, shot at. This is serious, so be careful around Air Bases, Army, whatever military installations... do not point a camera in that direction ever, even if 10 miles away !!

    We all have a body of experience from good to bad to worse carrying out our hobby and I can tell you that most encounters typically end without anyone getting hurt or badly ruffled. Believe me, I have been in some pretty bad situations and with the above tools, never a bad outcome.

    Always remember, if you truly had done something illegal, you would have been arrested with little conversation.
    Last edited by gonzalu; 01-18-2012 at 09:04 PM.
    Manny Gonzalez
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    While 9/11 is not a reason you can't take pictures, the fire station and perimeter fences around the cargo ramps are not acceptable spotting locations for seatac, hence why they are not on the nycaviation spotting guides. Plus the cargo ramp areas are generally considered private property, as is the fbo parking lot center field and as are the delta/alaska hangar areas-which means an officer on a bad day can fine or even arrest you for trespassing. As Manny pointed out, you want to avoid arrest: having an arrest on record, even if it is a bogus one, can become a huge headache down the road on top of the initial embarrassment.
    In short and for the future the locations you chose were asking for an encounter and should be avoided.
    In the future stick to the spots on the guide and the worst you should run into is an officer running a warrant/history search and telling you both to have a good time!

    Next time you visit feel free to reach out to some of us Seattle locals, there's a good numbe of us on the forums.
    Last edited by jerslice; 01-19-2012 at 01:45 AM.

  6. #6
    Senior Member Kris V's Avatar
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    I'll check with you Seattle folks next time I'll be around, I would like to point out I didn't argue to the officer, or give her a hard time...she did her thing and we were on are way, but I'll remember to ask if I am able to leave next time.
    Here is a couple of the pics, not best quality compared to 188th.


  7. #7
    Senior Member NIKV69's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jerslice View Post
    While 9/11 is not a reason you can't take pictures, the fire station and perimeter fences around the cargo ramps are not acceptable spotting locations for seatac, hence why they are not on the nycaviation spotting guides. Plus the cargo ramp areas are generally considered private property, as is the fbo parking lot center field and as are the delta/alaska hangar areas-which means an officer on a bad day can fine or even arrest you for trespassing. As Manny pointed out, you want to avoid arrest: having an arrest on record, even if it is a bogus one, can become a huge headache down the road on top of the initial embarrassment.
    In short and for the future the locations you chose were asking for an encounter and should be avoided.
    In the future stick to the spots on the guide and the worst you should run into is an officer running a warrant/history search and telling you both to have a good time!

    Next time you visit feel free to reach out to some of us Seattle locals, there's a good numbe of us on the forums.
    Best advice I have seen in this forum. Do you homework. With the internet and Google maps encounters like this can be avoided. I have never even been to SEATAC and can tell that spot should only be used in stealth mode, alone and if you need a very rare aircraft in which you're in the car, not standing in plain view and leaving after getting out and getting the shot. Most areas have guys easily reachable my email.

    Even though the officer made up a law about 9/11 you can still be asked to leave since that spot looks like private property. Plus the sign about Fire Dept parking only sure is a dead giveaway they got sick and tired of spotters in the past. Just look around you and use common sense and you can figure out what each spotting location will bring.
    'My idea of a good picture is one that's in focus and of a famous person doing something unfamous.' Andy Warhol

  8. #8
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    SeaTac (and Seattle in general) is easily one of the most spotter friendly airports I've ever been to. Other than routine patrol stops lasting a few minutes to chat I have never been asked to leave any of these locations ever:
    http://nycaviation.com/spotting-guides/sea/
    Nick, I think the FD sign is just to stop hangar workers from parking there :-) I say that only because I don't know any spotters in Seattle who go to those spots with the possible exception of one, who I believe has it worked out with the port to be able to do so.
    Last edited by jerslice; 01-20-2012 at 11:47 AM. Reason: changed "those locations ever." to "these locations ever:"

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    Senior Member seahawks7757's Avatar
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    LMAO, I wonder who that one is I think I have found that spot though Jeremy and it is ok to go there, it is just a parking lot.
    http://brandonsaviationblog.blogspot.com/ My continuing updated Aviation Blog
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    It's an Anet screener from the Seattle area who found a royally good location for taxi shots. Just a parking lot for who is the important part, parking lot for who? There is a reason no one except him shoots from around there, and it isn't for lack of it occurring to us all as a good spot

  11. #11
    Senior Member seahawks7757's Avatar
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    Cause a lot of us aren't early birds, from what I understand though the lot is ok. It is the ASIG parking lot and they don't really care according to my friend who works for them.
    http://brandonsaviationblog.blogspot.com/ My continuing updated Aviation Blog
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/seahawks7757/ My continuing updated photostream from BFI and sometimes SEA

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