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View Full Version : Your Tally of Severe Law Enforcement Encounters



PhilDernerJr
11-28-2013, 09:17 AM
Aside from you typical law enforcement visits while spotting, what is your short tally of the times you've been detained or questioned at home or had some other major encounter outside of your initial spotting activity?

Here's mine:

- Detained in airport police station for 4 hours at ISP in 2003 for spotting.
- Detained in NYPD station for 20 minutes while spotting at Bayswater in 2008.
- NYPD Joint Terrorism Task Force visited my home and interviewed 6 of my neighbors in 2010.

Yours?

lijk604
11-28-2013, 08:39 PM
2006 - Visited at home by an FBI agent (2 weeks after) spotting outside ISP. He felt bad for bothering me, and as soon as he saw my printed photos he wished me a good day. He was following up on a "suspicious activity" call from a "concerned citizen".

Thats it.

tlabranche
11-28-2013, 09:37 PM
Thankfully I have only had a few people ask me for my ID. I can't imagine a task force coming to my house.

NIKV69
11-28-2013, 09:43 PM
2004 Had SCPD be real thuggish at ISP. Homeland security visited my house that night.

I think John Toomey has us all beat though. I think they took all his gear and computers and he never got it back!

gonzalu
11-28-2013, 10:42 PM
Biggest deal one: A few AR-15s pointed at me and a few other spotters at JFK on the 9th anniversary of Sept 11. Ended with a strong "you must leave now" statement and that was it. Apparently the binoculars put us over the top...

The rest have been the usual encounters of stop ask and leave. Although once on Nassau Expwy, while stopped for speeding by NYPD, officer made me wait while he summoned PAPD to have me "checked out" for suspicious camera gear in front seat. Ended the same way with PAPD having a nice chat on spotting and aviation with me while schooling the NYPD officer on our hobby. IT was quite enjoyable. I still got tagged :(

megatop412
11-29-2013, 08:34 AM
First time was the worst, 1997, detained by PAPD after photographing Concorde through the fence by the post office. They were quite crappy to me

eric8669
11-29-2013, 09:27 AM
First time was the worst, 1997, detained by PAPD after photographing Concorde through the fence by the post office. They were quite crappy to me

that happened to you in 97? that's odd. Back then I would spend countless hours in that lot watching, taking pictures, shooting video. Even on hot days the PA Fire trucks would come by and spray us down. on other occasions an FDNY ambulance would come by and the guys would climb on top of the roof to watch.

And the one Manny brought up was by far the worst for me. T5 Garage on 9/11

Speedbird1
11-29-2013, 10:19 AM
Only once back in the 80's on the PanAm Roof by El Al security. Was surrounded by armed guards. My own fault. It was a sunny day, back then we used Kodacolor film with only 36 exposures. I couldn't find a place on the roof for shade so I changed film hiding under my jacket. Suddenly, I heard security surround me with rifles drawn and telling me to stop. My scanner was turned-on to boot with its long telescopic antenna.I was scared to death. The El Al 747 and the AFR Concorde were both backing-up at the same time at 1300. As a result, I missed both aircraft departing. No ID was requested and I was never searched or detained. I was so angry, I called on the phone to the PA when I returned home to complain and got an apology. I was informed that something they witnessed me doing triggered a response. As a good spotter, I returned a few days later. After that, I changed film cartridges in the elevator vestibule. They didn't know what I was doing under my jacket. El Al has the best security and they need it in these crazy times. I have never been deatained in 35 years and only got questioned once at T1 but was left alone.

Gerard
11-30-2013, 09:16 AM
Only once back in the 80's on the PanAm Roof by El Al security.

Yes El Al doesnt PLAY!!!
My only encounter was at FRG. It was before the Northeastern hangar was built and i was parked by the fence after taking a few shots of a helicopter. Got back in my car and was checking something out when, as the CSNY song "Almost Cut My Hair" sings, "looked in my rear view mirror and saw a po-lice car" :cool:. It was SCPD. The officer was very nice (post 9/11) asked what i was doing (I gather he knew thats why he stopped) checked my license and registration, came back, we chatted for about a minute and that was it!! I know some people have had run ins with the State PD (their barracks are on the grounds of FRG) so I make sure if I'm taking pics I give a look around to see if they might be driving past.

Mateo
12-01-2013, 12:49 AM
Was pulled into some tent for 20-30 minutes by Air Force OSI at the Dover AFB airshow in 2006 or 2007 (whichever year there was a show there).

Was pulled off the Newark AirTrain by 2 Air Marshals (who shared about 3 brain cells among them) in 2011. They asked questions for 3-5 minutes before I essentially told them to screw off and went through fare control to my NJ Transit train. The funny thing is that I wasn't spotting at the time - I was there for work looking at a few things landside, and taking notes on that, although when I let them look in my bag, I had small binoculars and my spotter book in there.

If we're just talking about standard "what are you doings" or running a license on-site and then leaving; more of those than I can count, but the title says "severe," and those are the only 2 that I'd consider even moderate or above.

megatop412
12-01-2013, 09:20 AM
Was pulled into some tent for 20-30 minutes by Air Force OSI at the Dover AFB airshow in 2006 or 2007 (whichever year there was a show there)
. What do you mean you were pulled into a tent? An an airshow? You mean those events where they put on a big show to show off all the hardware??? :confused:

Steven Holzinger
12-01-2013, 10:04 AM
The Dover incident would have taken place in 2006. I'm not going to name names but I do recall another member here was interrogated for taking photos of the Alaskan E-3 on display at McGuire's airshow... want to say that took place in 2008 but don't hold me to it! I was asked by a crew member of an MH-60S why I was taking photos of the BuNo of said helicopter on display at an NAS Oceana Airshow (want to say it was 2006). I told him I wanted to document which helicopter was there and that it was a "plane nerd thing." He laughed.

I'm going to copy-paste my incident from another thread...

In April 2009 I had spent a day hanging near PHL on the NJ side with a friend of mine filming arrivals to 27R. Didn't get local cops visiting but apparently someone took my license plate down and reported me for suspicious activity. How do I know? In September 2009, two FBI agents representing the Joint Terrorism Task Force stopped by home to speak with me about that incident in April. I wasn't home at the time but did call one of the agents and had about a thirty minute conversation (he left his business card with my parents). The conversation went very well and basically he stated if I saw something anywhere to call him and report it. This included if I was well away from the PHL area; he would forward my call to the respective area's office.

My only complaint was the fact that this was followed up five months after the incident was recorded!

CX777
12-04-2013, 06:39 AM
Three events that I'd say were severe or rather 'highlight' of my spotting encounters

~2004-6
Had beautiful spotting session @ plain view park LaGuardia Sat morning with Phil & Eric. NYPD car came over and checked us out. Nothing severe I thought... Except 4-6 weeks later on a Sat, as I am scrambling eggs in my night shorts...FBI Division Agent rings bell! He was very polite and just want to speak to me. Showed him my pile of tons of photos, slides and collection and he was satisfied.
~2007
Gman and I had spotted for the day and thought take few departure shots off 04 L on back street off Rockaway Blvd North. A white van comes around 3 times and next thing NYPD had us on the hood of the car! They called and verified our ID's and let us go with " I'd find something else to do and never come to airport again"
~2009
Spotting alone at "Meteo" spot... The weather station at Charles De Gaulle, Paris in early morning and one car and a mini truck full of soldiers with machine guns comes over. I had the official permission from Airport so all was fine after passport & papers check but was nerve racking seeing all the force!

Raj

Delta777LR
12-06-2013, 01:07 AM
The worse for me was at EWR in 2010 while I was out with a few others spotting most of the day and that was the day that a UA A319 had a gear collapse which closed runways 4L/22R. after shooting there for most of the day without issues it wasnt till about an hour after we were boxed by PAPD and at that point we had our SD Cards taken away for evidence and to make sure it was only the planes we were taken pictures of and not structures.. Another worse moment was at Planeview Park at LGA in 2009 after PAPD came out of no where and detained me and telling me that I wasn't allowed to take pictures from there. those days I will never forget..

Landing Lights
12-06-2013, 07:56 AM
those days I will never forget..

The worst for me was when Sergio and I were detained on top of a parking garage at LAX in October. We had 4 officers in 2 cars roll up on us and in the time it took me to pull out my ID, they had Sergio spun around, hands on his head, and were patting him down. Meanwhile, they didn't touch the white guy (me). Actually ran our licenses through the system and started in with the old 20 questions and baseless statements ("well with the security situation..."). One officer in particular was NOT happy that we were spotting, and he seemed convinced that we were 'casing the joint'. When he heard that we had been spotting from Imperial Hill and In-N-Out, he starts accusing us of "taking pictures of the whole place."

The most shocking and saddening part of the whole encounter for me was the blatant levels of racism shown towards the Hispanic guy. Especially given how diverse the police presence was at that moment.

lijk604
12-06-2013, 08:40 AM
Ben...this happened during the LAX meetup?

gonzalu
12-06-2013, 08:43 AM
Ouch Ben, Sergio. WTF? I have spent HOURS on top of the garages at LAX from early evening to middle of the night (3:00am) and sometimes in plain view of officers down below on departures level. Tripods and all, long timed exposures. Lots of pax around with some coming over and hanging out... never an issue. Same with Imperial Hill and In-n-Out.

Even during AF-1 inbound on 24L, officers came over to us on the bridge over Sepulveda and politely asked us to go down to street level and that was it.

Wow, I am shocked. Makes it sound like EWR or ISP not LAX

Landing Lights
12-06-2013, 10:18 AM
Ben...this happened during the LAX meetup?

Yes, that Saturday night sometime between 9:00 and 9:30.



Ouch Ben, Sergio. WTF? I have spent HOURS on top of the garages at LAX from early evening to middle of the night (3:00am) and sometimes in plain view of officers down below on departures level. Tripods and all, long timed exposures. Lots of pax around with some coming over and hanging out... never an issue. Same with Imperial Hill and In-n-Out.

Even during AF-1 inbound on 24L, officers came over to us on the bridge over Sepulveda and politely asked us to go down to street level and that was it.

Wow, I am shocked. Makes it sound like EWR or ISP not LAX

I was stunned, Manny, given LAX's reputation as a spotter friendly airport. We had parked at the TBIT end and then walked across to shoot the alley between T2 and T3. When I looked back towards my car, I noticed a cop car with its lights on over there, but figured it was a passenger with a dead battery or something. In all we were probably detained for about 20 minutes. No question about it, Sergio was the one they were interested in. In addition to his full body massage, they took a real good look at his photos. Only after several minutes did they decide that they should look at mine too and it was a brief look. Once they left us alone, we both decided we were pretty much done for the night, but we did run into a few local spotters who had set up near our car, who said the police had not said a word to them.

I was going to reach out to LAX about it, but after the shooting I decided not to bother.

Gintaras B.
12-06-2013, 07:01 PM
Me:

@ Bayswater Park (http://nycaviation.com/forum/threads/46811-Well-didn-t-think-that-hobby-can-be-so-dangerous)

4 days later a I was approached by Nassau PD @ Costco parking lot, but these were very friendly and they knew about this hobby, I was even very surprised...

felipegcmh
12-07-2013, 09:02 PM
Well, they didn't bother the other Mexican (the other spotters you mentioned were Sean Moran and myself). We did see the large police presence but we thought there was a broken car, abandoned bag, jumper or something along those lines.

My worst one was at PHX last December, I was taking night shots and had a legitimate reason to be there (parents taking a late night IAH-PHX), rent-a-cop came yelling at me that taking pictures was against the law (I thought that she was going to yell at me for taking 3 of the 900 available spots on that floor), I politely told her that we were authorized by PD and OPS, she got very agitated and she demanded to see "the papers", (a phrase that didn't go too well with me), and I said that we didn't have any, just verbal authorization (I wasn't going to explain Airport Watch, and why my badge was 120 miles away after a last minute truck swap, figured I *could* explain that to PHX PD if they were summoned), after a while she said "well, I'll just call in and say everything is good". A few minutes later she was parked next to one of the ACE parking trucks and then 2 PHX officers showed up as I was putting my tripod away. They asked what I was doing, and said that they had to investigate because a call came in, and when I said that the rentacop had said it was against the law, they said "yeah, she doesn't know the law".

Another guy from PHX Spotters had a run in with the same lady maybe 3 days after that, and after an unrelated run-in that same day, involving a foreign spotter and another rentacop, Ops said they were going to have a meeting to make it clear that it wasn't illegal to take photos.

Delta777LR
12-08-2013, 12:26 AM
Yes, that Saturday night sometime between 9:00 and 9:30.




I was stunned, Manny, given LAX's reputation as a spotter friendly airport. We had parked at the TBIT end and then walked across to shoot the alley between T2 and T3. When I looked back towards my car, I noticed a cop car with its lights on over there, but figured it was a passenger with a dead battery or something. In all we were probably detained for about 20 minutes. No question about it, Sergio was the one they were interested in. In addition to his full body massage, they took a real good look at his photos. Only after several minutes did they decide that they should look at mine too and it was a brief look. Once they left us alone, we both decided we were pretty much done for the night, but we did run into a few local spotters who had set up near our car, who said the police had not said a word to them.

I was going to reach out to LAX about it, but after the shooting I decided not to bother.

That was one of the biggest mess right there. I mean out of all, i never understood why they just before hand frisked me like they did, i mean i showed no suspicion what so ever, but again, racism seem to be the issue, I mean BS like that, not in my books. I mean seriously we are all human being and we have nothing to hide, yes they seemed satisfied when I showed those officers the photos, one of them was a little more polite however, i saw as one of the other officers which i believed he was asian if im not mistaking trying to ask his partner like what about us if we need to leave and the other says we were fine and convinced that we are just taking pictures of the planes, he had a nasty atitude that i really didnt like. But Ben and I still had a great night shooting!!

CO777ER
12-08-2013, 03:10 AM
Somehow I'm still at zero. I've been all over the US and luckily haven't had any bad run-in's with LEO's. Worst was at DFW when a DFWPD cop asked me to move from the "Graveyard Spotting Location" which is a State of Texas historic landmark. I kindly reminded him that it's public property and unless he was forcing me out I was going to stay put... he drove off :biggrin: