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Thread: Your Tally of Severe Law Enforcement Encounters

  1. #1
    Administrator PhilDernerJr's Avatar
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    Your Tally of Severe Law Enforcement Encounters

    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?
    Email me anytime at [email protected].

  2. #2
    Senior Member lijk604's Avatar
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    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.

  3. #3
    Senior Member tlabranche's Avatar
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    Thankfully I have only had a few people ask me for my ID. I can't imagine a task force coming to my house.
    Timothy LaBranche

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  4. #4
    Senior Member NIKV69's Avatar
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    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!
    'My idea of a good picture is one that's in focus and of a famous person doing something unfamous.' Andy Warhol

  5. #5
    Senior Member gonzalu's Avatar
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    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 :(
    Manny Gonzalez
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  6. #6
    Senior Member megatop412's Avatar
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    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

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    Quote Originally Posted by megatop412 View Post
    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
    Last edited by eric8669; 11-29-2013 at 09:30 AM.
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    Senior Member Speedbird1's Avatar
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    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.

  9. #9
    Senior Member Gerard's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Speedbird1 View Post
    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" . 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.

  10. #10
    Senior Member Mateo's Avatar
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    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.
    Last edited by Mateo; 12-01-2013 at 12:51 AM.

  11. #11
    Senior Member megatop412's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mateo View Post
    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???

  12. #12
    Senior Member Steven Holzinger's Avatar
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    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!

  13. #13
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    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

  14. #14
    Senior Member Delta777LR's Avatar
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    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..
    Sergio has been a huge Delta Air Lines fan since 1992!!

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  15. #15
    Administrator Landing Lights's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Delta777LR View Post
    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.
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