View Full Version : Amtrak Photo Contestant Arrested By Amtrak Police @ Penn

Matt Molnar
2009-01-04, 10:57 PM
An amateur photographer taking photos for an Amtrak photo contest (http://www.amtrak.com/photocontest) on a platform at Penn Station was asked to delete his photos by Amtrak Police, and subsequently arrested and charged with trespassing when he refused.

It is not illegal to take photographs in Penn Station, and the photographer, Duane Kerzic, a 50-year old Navy veteran, was holding an Amtrak ticket, which would seem to indicate he was not trespassing.

Kerzic has posted a blog (http://www.duanek.name/Amtrak/index.htm) detailing his experience, and here are his photos (http://photos.duanek.name/Amtrak%20Problems).

2009-01-04, 11:05 PM
I'm sure there's a lot left out of this story. I'd like to see what the P.O.'s account of the events are.

2009-01-05, 01:05 AM
Cop "excuse me, did you know it is illegal to take pictures here?"

me "no, I did not"

Cop "Erased them"

me " your asking me to destroy evidence???"

Trick Question.... Let them answer that!

a week later I will tell you the story!

2009-01-05, 06:41 PM
I didn't even know Amtrak had Police..are these the guys that couldn't make any other police force? Sounds like a force one step above a square badge.

Amtrak police arrest photographer participating in Amtrak photo contest
27 December 2008

Armed with his Canon 5D and his new Lensbaby lens, photographer Duane Kerzic was out to win Amtrak’s annual photo contest this week, hoping to win $1,000 in travel vouchers and have his photo published in Amtrak’s annual calendar.

He ended up getting arrested by Amtrak police; handcuffed to a wall in a holding cell inside New York City’s Penn Station, accused of criminal trespass.

Kerciz says he was hardly trespassing because he was taking photos from the train platform; the same one used by thousands of commuters everyday to step on and off the train.

“The only reason they arrested me was because I refused to delete my images,” Kerzic said in a phone interview with Photography is Not a Crime on Friday.

“They never asked me to leave, they never mentioned anything about trespassing until after I was handcuffed in the holding cell.”

In fact, he said, the only thing they told him before handcuffing him was that “it was illegal to take photos of the trains.”

Obviously, there is a lack of communication between Amtrak’s marketing department, which promotes the annual contest, called Picture Our Trains, and its police department, which has a history of harassing photographers for photographing these same trains.

Not much different than the JetBlue incident from earlier this year where JetBlue flight attendants had a woman arrested for refusing to delete a video she filmed in flight while the JetBlue marketing department hosted a contest encouraging passengers to take photos in flight.

While the Amtrak contest page does state that trespassers are subject to arrest and fines, it also states that contestants must also stay in the “public access areas”, which describes the train platform because how else are passengers going to board the train?

As always, Amtrak reminds you to stay out of danger - stay away from tracks and the railroad right-of-way. Do not trespass on railroad property or on private property adjacent to the railroad. Do not climb or approach railroad structures, towers, or wires. Stay in public access areas, and away from railroad structures and moving equipment - in stations, on sidewalks, or in parking lots. All participants expressly release Amtrak from all liability for personal injury and loss or damage to personal property, and expressly assume the risk of harm. Remember, tracks, trestles, yards and equipment are private property - trespassers are subject to arrest and fines.

Also, according to a discussion on this same subject on a website called Trainorders.com, the July 23, 2007 Amtrak weekly newsletter stated there is no prohibition against photography as long as one remains in the public access areas.

“Security: While there is no prohibition against taking
photographs of Amtrak trains, photographs may only be
taken in Amtrak’s public areas, not areas restricted by
signs, barriers or locked entrances. Non-public areas,
such as railroad tracks, trestles, yards and equipment,
are private property; trespassers are subject to arrest.”

-Amtrak This Week newsletter, 23JUL07

Furthermore, this same issue arose in Washington DC’s Union Station where a TV news crew ended up interviewing a top dog from Amtrak to determine what is the actual policy on photography in train stations. The Amtrak official said that photography is allowed. Meanwhile, a security guard tried to shut the cameraman down.

That incident lead to US Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton to demand clearer policies about photography from the companies that operated within Union Station.

Kerzic’s ordeal began Dec. 21 when he took the train from New Jersey into New York City and debarked at Penn Station. He snapped a photo of the train speeding away, then walked down the platform where he snapped several other photos. He continued taking photos as the platform emptied into Manhattan.

Then he casually walked towards the staircase to make his own way into the city. He stopped before the stairwell to tie his shoe.

When he stood back up, the cops were hovering over him. Two cops and a dog. A black lab with a nose for explosives.

“They asked what I was doing, I said I was taking photos,” he said.

“They said put your bag on the ground and let our dog sniff it.”

He complied and the dog confirmed he was carrying no explosives in his photo bag. Then they asked for his ID. Then to see the photos.

And then they ordered him to delete the photos.

“I said ‘absolutely not’,” said the 50-year-old navy veteran who describes himself as a “conservative republican”.

They told him it was illegal to photograph the trains.

“I asked where is the sign that says that,” he said.

That was when Amtrak police officer James Rusbarsky, badge Number 466, pulled out his handcuffs.

Kerzic said he immediately placed his hands behind his back, but Rusbarsky insisted on placing the handcuffs on him backwards.

“I asked him please put the cuffs on correctly, you’re hurting me, and he refused, tightening them instead,” he said.

Then they took him to the holding cell where they handcuffed him to a wall, and even then, they still slammed the door locked, in case he somehow broke free.

Kerzic said they never accused him of trespassing until after they had him handcuffed and placed in the cell. He believes they only came up with this charge after they realized there was no law in the books that stated that photography was illegal inside a train station.

“At no time did they tell me to leave the platform,” he said. “All they wanted me to do was delete my photos.”

Now he has sent out letters complaining of the incident to everybody from New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg to New York Senator Hillary Clinton to everybody in between and above, including Amtrak officials, New Jersey Transit officials and even the President Bush himself, in case he feels the urge to do some work before he leaves office next month.

He has also contacted a New York City lawyer who specializes in First Amendment cases and the National Press Photographers Association has also been in contact with him.

And he has been documenting his case on his website, including photos of his injured wrist and the various train platforms as well as the letters he has sent out.

Now he plans to return to Penn Station and photograph the cops who arrested him as well photos for Amtrak contest.

“If I win that contest, I would travel all over the country taking photos,” he said.

And if he wins the lawsuit, he may end up traveling all over the world.

2009-01-05, 08:45 PM
amtrak-photo-contestant-arrested-by-amtrak-police-penn-t14611.html (http://www.nycaviation.com/forum/amtrak-photo-contestant-arrested-by-amtrak-police-penn-t14611.html)

2009-01-05, 09:20 PM
[quote="T-Bird76"]I didn't even know Amtrak had Police..are these the guys that couldn't make any other police force? Sounds like a force one step above a square badge.

Actually Amtrak PD has about 342 fully sworn police officers most stationed in the Northeast corridor. They train at the Federal Law
Enforcement Training Center in Georgia and have been around since 1970 I believe and are a fully accredited LEO.
They have a K-9 unit with bomb sniffing dogs, a Counter-terrorism Unit and even an Aviation Unit, TrackStar 1, a 1981 Bell
Jetranger (N31PH) though I'm not sure if they still are using the ship.

2009-01-06, 11:07 AM
I was at Grand Central Terminal last week. Photographers were all over the place photographing the Holiday Light Show on the walls and ceiling and nobody said a word to them. There also was a model train exhibit which had photographers galore and no problems. Since 9-11, they often harrass us photographers. I can't even get into some of the JFK Terminals without a boarding pass. That is ridiculous. I was supposed to meet a friend between flights at Delta but was denied admittance since I had no boarding pass. I was rudely told that I had no business in the terminal. My annual tours of the JFK Tower back in the 80's and 90's are now just wonderful memories!

2009-01-06, 12:47 PM
These people are way out of line...... :(

They keep on picking on photographers and others who have a hobby involving cameras for no valid reason.

These "people" with all their "power" don't pick on Football hooligans or knife carrying teenagers, if they did the world would be a safer place.

2009-01-06, 03:33 PM
Would be interesting to see what plays out with this.
But wait... why was he arrested for tresspasing if he had the tickets?

2009-01-15, 09:19 AM
These people are way out of line...... :(

They keep on picking on photographers and others who have a hobby involving cameras for no valid reason.

These "people" with all their "power" don't pick on Football hooligans or knife carrying teenagers, if they did the world would be a safer place.

I agree to all that. Its like saying that its against the law to use a camera anywhere you go. Its a bunch of bull.

2009-01-18, 09:50 AM
This is a problem we've been having in the railfanning hobby for a long time. The railroads issue notices say it isn't illegal and there isn't policy provided you're not committing a crime to do so. Yet, the railroad police keep saying "oh...well...it's the rules they tell us, it's the rules they tell us". It's stupid.

There was a now infamous incident where the vice president of communications for Amtrak, a pseudo federal corporation, was being interviewed by ABC News in Washington, D.C. Union Station about this very issue. He clearly stated, on national television, there are no rules and no laws against railroad photography in any Amtrak station. The interview was interrupted by security threatening to arrest the Amtrak VICE PRESIDENT OF COMMUNICATIONS(!!!) if they didn't turn off the cameras cause it was "illegal". Uh...yeah.

Also, fwiw, ticket or not, all Penn Station New York platforms are public domain. Had that debate with a NJTransit cop once. He lost when I called the Chief and asked. :twisted: