While the National Press Photographers Association is proudly proclaiming how it had a hand in revising Amtrak’s policy towards photographers, Amtrak police are continuing to harass photographers.
The latest incident comes to us from War on Photography and involves a photographer/videographer from Boston who goes by the Flickr username Scleroplex. He was standing on the platform filming the train as it came in and an Amtrak cop walked up to him.
In the video, you can hear the cop’s walkie talkie as he approaches Scleroplex. Then you can hear the exchange:
“Sir may I ask you a question?”
“What are you doing?”
What does it look like he’s doing, asshole?
One of the most annoying questions you can ask a photographer when he is obviously taking photos is “what are you doing?”. That question is even more annoying when you are shooting video because it interrupts the video.
So obviously this cop wasn’t informed of Amtrak’s new policy. In fact, this cop didn’t seem to be aware of Amtrak’s previous policy, which went into effect in 2007 and doesn’t look much different from the revised policy, which went into effect this month.
The NPPA states the following in touting the new policy:
“The newly revised ‘policy’ is written in bold print and states that ‘It is the policy of Amtrak that the taking of photographs and/or videos is permitted within public access areas on Amtrak property.‘”
However, the previous policy stated the following, which was also written in bold:
“It is the policy of Amtrak that the taking of photographs and/or videos is permitted within public access areas on Amtrak property.‘”
While the previous policy stated that photojournalists were allowed to take photos in the station area but not in the platform area, the new policy states they are allowed to take photographs where ever the general public is allowed to take photographs, which includes platforms.
The NPPA goes on to say:
Included in the new policies are orders to Amtrak police to not delete, destroy, or alter photographs and video, along with the directive that they shall not request others to delete, destroy, or alter photos or video either.
While it doesn’t say that in the previous policy, it doesn’t encourage cops to do so either. That would be the destruction of personal property, which should not be allowed by any police department. And the fact that it had to be spelled out for Amtrak officers makes you wonder where these cops are getting certified?
Both policies are posted below so maybe you can help me spot more “revisions.” Click to enlarge. You might have to click twice.
Amtrak’s photo policy that went into effect in March 2009.
Amtrak’s photo policy that went into effect on Sept. 11, 2007.