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View Full Version : Incident at Trenton-Mercer Airport - 1/31/2013



Cary
01-31-2013, 04:31 PM
Today, I went out to my local airport, Trenton-Mercer, to catch the water cannon salute for Frontier's new service to 4 additional cities. Shortly after I got to my normal spot next to the terminal, an officer based at the airport approached me. After I identified myself as an aviation photojournalist, he informed me that I was not allowed to take pictures without the prior approval of the airport administration. I told the officer that I did have permission, but cited the airport manager who apparently was recently replaced with a new manager. The officer then stated that I would need permission from the new manager, and I could do that, or he could run my ID. I told him that I didn't think I even needed permission for photographing from a public area, and apparently I should have just marched straight into the admin building, because he cut me off as I was speaking, and immediately asked for my ID. He told me it was county property and there were FAA laws against photographing airplanes. While I'm a little fuzzy on the public airport/area/county property portion, I know the "FAA laws" part was made up.

He ran my ID against various databases, telling the dispatcher that I was at the airport "fenceline" with a "zoom lens" (if you've ever been to TTN, that sounds much worse than what it was...I was in plain sight, in an area with picnic benches, and with not one, but two fences separating me from the field). As we were waiting for the results, the Frontier flight arrived, and I couldn't do a thing. I told the officer I had been photographing from that spot for over 15 years, and he said "well, I've been here for 7 years, and I've never seen you here". When the ID check finally came back clean (shocking), I went into the admin office, where I ran into a nice gentlemen I've spoken to before. He asked if I was just where I normally photograph from, and when I affirmed, he said it was fine. He also gave me a location from within the airport to try to get the water cannon salute, but the glass was tinted, and it was too late. I tried to photograph the departure taxi, but it was cloudy by that time.

I noted the officer's name, and am considering bringing this up with someone, so I don't continue to get treated like a criminal every time a new officer sees me taking pictures at TTN. This is probably the fourth time I've had something similar happen, and the other times, I had the current administration's blessing, but some of the officers still questioned me and ran my ID. And since I normally go to the airport during my lunch hour (and arrive just as the plane I want to photograph is arriving), in the 5-15 minutes an officer questions me, I will normally miss what I went for. All this for silly Frontier A319s, and at the airport I have supported and promoted for over a decade.

PhilDernerJr
01-31-2013, 04:42 PM
That's pretty crappy. Hopefully someone passes word to the officer about what is and is not the law.

NIKV69
01-31-2013, 05:28 PM
I am a little confused. You had permission and the manager left or was replaced without your knowledge? Not that I support the officer (his actions were lame and he lied just to get you to leave) but he seemed to view you as someone just dropping an old name. Did you contact anyone before you headed down? Getting a relationship with current management would make sense. Since usually that leads to getting much better treatment and or getting access so you can cover the event properly without this treatment. We had Republic start service here this month and I got a police escort anywhere I wanted instead of being run off. They don't do water canon salutes here but I was able to get near the threshold for a kewl touchdown shot. Instead of lodging a complaint against the officer contacting the current Exec Dir may cut more wood.

Gerard
01-31-2013, 05:48 PM
Is this an airport PD officer or Trenton PD or county PD?
I love how some of these guys make up crap as they go along!! They think we are nerds that have no clue that they can bully!!

Cary
01-31-2013, 05:54 PM
I am a little confused. You had permission and the manager left or was replaced without your knowledge?

Yes, I spoke to the (old) airport manager several times, and he was 100% fine with me taking photos from the locations I was at (he even mentioned reading Airways magazine, who I work with a good deal). The last time I saw him was probably about a 10 months ago, and it looks like there is a new manager (which I didn't know). No, I didn't contact anyone before I went there, because the administration has always been okay with me being there, without having to contact anyone. The gentleman in the admin building instantly recognized me, and gave me the impression that he was sorry that I got hassled, without saying it. It's too bad that the only times I see him is right after I've been traumatized by a police confrontation.

Literally, I was just at the place where people dropping off relatives and some aviation geeks gather (although none have quite the camera I have) stand and watch the flights depart/arrive.

Cary
01-31-2013, 05:57 PM
Is this an airport PD officer or Trenton PD or county PD?
I love how some of these guys make up crap as they go along!! They think we are nerds that have no clue that they can bully!!

I believe it is the Mercer County Sheriff's Office (they have a small office inside the terminal). Once he mentioned the FAA laws against photographing planes, I knew he was BS'ing me, but I shut my mouth because he was already agitated after I tried speaking when he gave me the option to talk to the airport manager or have my ID run.

NIKV69
01-31-2013, 06:02 PM
It's too bad that the only times I see him is right after I've been traumatized by a police confrontation.



That is in your control though. Show your face more, drop in and say hi etc. When an event like inaugural service comes up contact him in advance. Heck they will usually get you access. There was a certain airline official here who tried to run me off all the time. Using the same FAA voodoo law BS. Didn't take long before I walked past her and wished her well flying a kite. There is always one or two people with bees in their bonnets. Usually it's law enforcement but their tactics are so lame and predictable.

I know the feeling

Mateo
01-31-2013, 06:54 PM
Yeah, TTN is patrolled by the County Sheriff, and it's pretty heavily patrolled since the County Department's only responsibility is the Courthouse in Trenton, the airport, and the County Park in West Windsor. I was run off from pretty much that exact same spot a loooooooong time ago (when Shuttle America first got that all-white Saab), but just chalked it up to a jerky cop, and since I'm primarily not a photographer, I haven't really bothered to do anything aside from very quick stops there since.

Cary
01-31-2013, 09:17 PM
My relationship with the administration is already fine. Maybe showing my face a little more could eventually lead to better photography opportunities and I can bypass having to deal with LEO, but the area I spot from is already good enough, and I really don't need special access. And like I said, I usually only have 10-15 minutes at the airport most times, so that wouldn't leave me with enough time to get onto the ramp, etc. The main problem is that so many different officers rotate through TTN day to day, that there are bound to be ones who don't know me and want to make up mythical laws to scare me off. I have even gone into the sheriff's office on some days when I have time, to let them know I was taking pictures, and minutes later gotten interrogated by an officer who drove up, even after I told him I was just in their office.

I'm curious, though...for those of you with a legal background...is an open area where the public can stand/gather, outdoors, next to a county airport terminal, considered private property or a public space?

gonzalu
01-31-2013, 11:16 PM
http://nj.gov/counties/mercer/officials/sheriff/

http://nj.gov/counties/mercer/officials/sheriff/uniformed/sub_station.html

megatop412
01-31-2013, 11:26 PM
Wow what a ridiculous situation. Sad the cop had to resort to that baloney about the FAA. But dammit, he's in the fight against terrorism!

gonzalu
01-31-2013, 11:36 PM
Cary CAN BE very suspicious... the haircut alone would make me think he is against the govt! :tongue:

Cary
02-01-2013, 12:03 AM
Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that yesterday, I was approached by a police officer while I was eating lunch in my car, parked in my office's parking lot!!

Apparently, authority figures fear my short, frail appearance, and my Asian math skills.

wunaladreamin
02-01-2013, 12:35 AM
Wait a minute...Cary is...ASIAN?!?!

Cary
02-01-2013, 12:46 AM
Wait a minute...Cary is...ASIAN?!?!

Don't tell anyone, Kenny. I was trying to keep it a secret.

jerslice
02-01-2013, 01:18 AM
Wait a minute...Cary is...ASIAN?!![/COLOR]
wow...I'm just....stunned....we're through the looking glass here, people...

steve1840
02-01-2013, 06:02 AM
Wait a minute...Cary is...ASIAN?!?!

My mind has just been blown.....incredible....

NIKV69
02-01-2013, 09:14 AM
Cary CAN BE very suspicious... the haircut alone would make me think he is against the govt! :tongue:

Really look where it got Bill Gates.

http://img839.imageshack.us/img839/3750/billgatesb.jpg