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  • Student lands in legal trouble for photographing police cars

    What are your thoughts ?????? What a shame... I usally get permission first anyhow.

    http://www.philly.com/mld/inquirer/2002/09/03/news/local/3991320.htm

    And for those of u who don't like clicking on links. Full story Below >>>>>

    ""He says it's a hobby. Police cite Sept. 11 security fears.
    By Jonathan Gelb and Benjamin Wallace-Wells
    Inquirer Staff Writers

    Mohammed Budeir says his hobby is harmless.

    As with devotees around the country, Budeir says he enjoys taking photographs of police cars to post on the Internet. Sure enough, the Web is full of such sites created by those who, like Budeir, are drawn to the esoteric pursuit of collecting such pictures.

    But in an anxious post-Sept. 11 world, his hobby has put him at odds with police in Willistown Township in Chester County, after they discovered Budeir, 20, a Villanova University student from Wayne, taking pictures of police cars without their permission last month. Police charged him with trespassing and disorderly conduct, saying the FBI had warned them to look out for would-be terrorists taking photos of emergency vehicles.

    So are police getting excited over nothing? Or is there reason to be concerned over Budeir's behavior?

    In the next few months, the Chester County District Attorney's Office will answer those questions in part by deciding how vigorously to prosecute the case.

    In the meantime, Budeir and police remain deadlocked over the meaning of a case that both sides agree would have been a non-issue before Sept. 11.

    Budeir, a U.S. citizen of Syrian descent, wanted the photos for his own collection, said his attorney, Richard Meanix.

    "It would seem that his crime is not a real serious one," Meanix said.

    He said Budeir is part of an online community - composed largely of former police but also including civilians - that is fascinated with police vehicles.

    One such site, copcar.com, gets between 4,000 and 5,000 Web hits a week, said owner Dave Arnold, a retired Colorado police officer. Arnold said private citizens sometimes hoard police memorabilia for the sense of power and the thrill.

    A quick Internet search reveals dozens of such sites, some that include photos of police cars from departments in the region, including those in Philadelphia, Norristown, Chester City and West Chester.

    To some law enforcement officials, however, such sites could be dangerous.

    "Our hypersensitivity is about people taking detailed photos of a police car to duplicate those markings," said Joseph Angelino, chief of police in Norwich, N.Y., and an expert in police collectibles. He said there was heightened concern among authorities that police cars, ambulances and other emergency vehicles could be cloned.

    Willistown police said Budeir was acting "suspiciously" on the two days in August when he came to the police station to take photographs, though they stop short of alleging that he is involved in any organized crime ring.

    Police chief Hugh Murray said a Willistown officer first noticed Budeir in the station's rear parking lot taking photos of police cars with a digital camera on Aug. 1.

    The officer became suspicious - not because Budeir was Middle Eastern, Murray said, but because the department had received the FBI warning earlier in the week.

    Budeir complied when asked by the officer to delete the photos and was told not to come back unless he had official township business, Murray said. But according to court papers, he returned the next day, when another officer saw him taking pictures of the cars.

    When confronted, Budeir explained that he was taking the photos because he posted them on the Internet as a hobby. But the officer became suspicious when Budeir could not name the Web site where he displayed them, Murray said.

    Budeir did not return calls for comment. No one answered the door at his Wayne home.

    Last week, Budeir waived his preliminary hearing in district court in West Chester. In doing so, he applied for the county's Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition program, an informal probation for nonviolent offenders. Entrance into the program would allow Budeir to perform community service while on probation and then apply to have his arrest expunged from his record.

    If he is not approved for the ARD program, he would have a preliminary hearing and the case would proceed toward trial.

    First Assistant District Attorney Patrick Carmody said the process of deciding whether to approve Budeir for ARD may take "a couple of months." Carmody said the office will weigh the seriousness of the crime, whether he has a criminal record, and "particularly, the fact that he was asked to go away and then came back."

    In the meantime, the case has one clear meaning for Budeir's attorney. "It is an example about how careful one must be in his actions after Sept. 11," Meanix said.

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Contact Jonathan Gelb at 610-701-7627 or at [email protected]""
    Greg's Myspace
    My Photos on Flick'r

  • #2
    I can understand the officer's point of view with the FBI warning, but why not just FI the person and be done with it? Arresting the guy for taking pictures of public vehicles in a public place just seems a bit much.

    Comment


    • #3
      I think they have a good trespassing case against him. They told him not to come back to an area (presumably) not open to the public, and he came back. Sounds pretty open and shut to me. As far as taking pictures of police cars, maybe he was taking pictures of the back doors to the police station in order to evaluate the security of the building, maybe he wasn't. Who knows? I think it would have been perfectly legal to take whatever pictures he wanted if he hadn't entered the rear parking lot that was presumably not open to the public. He wasn't in trouble for taking pictures, he was in trouble for trespassing. The disorderly charge sounds like filler unless there was more to it than was printed in the article. That would be a first...

      [ 09-03-2002, 10:04 PM: Message edited by: Frank Booth ]

      Comment


      • #4
        Whats the problem ?

        Since we have NO expectation of privacy anywhere in public and since police are PUBLIC SERVANTS, whats the figgin probelm ?

        Since we already established that its ok for cops to take pictures of "future suspects" even though they have never been convicted of anything that should apply to them as well eh ?

        The fact that the guys name is "Mohammed Budeir" might have something to do with it.

        In the meantime, Budeir and police remain deadlocked over the meaning of a case that both sides agree would have been a non-issue before Sept. 11.

        Its only an issue because of the overhyped bull that we are losing our rights over. Now we no longer have the right to take a picture of a cop car because we might be a terroist.

        "Our hypersensitivity is about people taking detailed photos of a police car to duplicate those markings," said Joseph Angelino, chief of police in Norwich, N.Y., and an expert in police collectibles

        Yeah right...thats a serious problem.Im sure its happend a gazillion times.Looks to me the only problem is HPERSENSITIVITY to an imaginary problem.

        Budeir complied when asked by the officer to delete the photos and was told not to come back unless he had official township business, Murray said.

        Really now, since when is a guy taking pictures a threat? If the cops can do it to citizens, why can citizens do it to cops ?

        In the meantime, the case has one clear meaning for Budeir's attorney. "It is an example about how careful one must be in his actions after Sept. 11," Meanix said.

        Bullhockey.
        Looks like the terroists are winning after all.

        What about this FBI warning? I havent heard of it. Its not posted at the sheriffs dept. We dont have one at work ? Wheres it at?

        It appears that these people are covering their tails with an FBI warning.
        Whats next? Pretty soon talking about it'll be a crime.

        [ 09-03-2002, 10:53 PM: Message edited by: Watchman ]
        "The American People will never knowingly adopt Socialism. Under the name of "liberalism" they will adopt every segment of the socialist program,until one day America will be a socialist nation without knowing how it happened."

        Norman Thomas

        Comment


        • #5
          See the thread on cops taking pics of "Future" suspects.

          To me, it seems that turnabout is fair pay.

          In a more realistic sense, he was in the back lot, that's like following a bear into it' s den and wondering why you get mauled. [Eek!]
          Come visit the Royal Dragon Kung Fu Discusion forums at www.dreamwater.net/biz/royaldragon/index.html

          Comment


          • #6
            "What about this FBI warning? I havent heard of it. Its not posted at the sheriffs dept. We dont have one at work ? Wheres it at?"

            I can vouch for that warning, it's true.

            Comment


            • #7
              In a more realistic sense, he was in the back lot, that's like following a bear into it' s den and wondering why you get mauled.

              If it was fenced in, thats one thing. The city PD where I'm at isnt. The sheriff dept. that I work at isnt.

              Anybody can walk though either one of them.
              "The American People will never knowingly adopt Socialism. Under the name of "liberalism" they will adopt every segment of the socialist program,until one day America will be a socialist nation without knowing how it happened."

              Norman Thomas

              Comment


              • #8
                quote:
                What about this FBI warning? I havent heard of it. Its not posted at the sheriffs dept. We dont have one at work ? Wheres it at?
                I saw it.

                To reiterate: He was charged with trespassing, a perfectly legitmate charge. I wouldn't want the public walking in the back lot of the station either. I'd have a problem with charging the guy with disorderly just because he was taking pictures, but that charge will likely be tossed if it indeed was for only taking pix...There is no reason for that area to be open to the public. It's just as legal as pulling someone over on a pretextual traffic stop. If someone came into your backyard and started taking pictures of the back of your house, an area where anyone can walk into, and the police charged them with trespassing when they came back after being ordered to stay out, would you have a problem with that?

                Comment


                • #9
                  Rule Number 1: Don't look suspicious...
                  If we're not supposed to eat animals, why are they made out of meat?

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Geeez .... everyone knows if you want to photograph cop cars, you wait for them to park them on the street and leave them for awhile... you don't go snooping around the POLICE STATION !!!!
                    Have you ever noticed? Anybody going slower than you is an idiot, and anyone going faster than you is a maniac.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I think it's a load of rubbish.

                      I'd be very curious about the trespassing charge. I don't know about VA law, but you'd better have a darn good reason here to bar someone from public property. It sounds like her was barred for taking pics of cars (which are public) then told not to come back unless he was on "offical business"

                      I think he should have fought it.

                      A smarter move on his part would have been to photograph the car at a 7-11 or some other public place.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        The only problem I see here is when the officer ordered him to delete the photos taken on the first day. Having a picture of a police car is not by itself a crime.

                        But his returning on the second day, after being told once that the station's rear parking lot was off-limits to non-employees, is a no-brainer trespass.

                        "If it was fenced in, thats one thing. The city PD where I'm at isnt. The sheriff dept. that I work at isnt. Anybody can walk though either one of them."

                        While a fence is helpful, it's not necessary in a trespass case.

                        Most people's front yards aren't fenced in. Yet if I set up camp in your front yard, and especially if I refuse to leave (or come back) after being ordered to do so, I would think that would be a no-brainer trespass charge.

                        "Arresting the guy for taking pictures of public vehicles in a public place just seems a bit much."

                        Just because an area is publicly-owned doesn't mean it's publicly-accessible. My police station is owned by the taxpayers, but aside from the front lobby those same taxpayers can't just walk in and have a look around.

                        My station's parking lot is (unfortunately) not fenced-in. But, it doesn't mean anybody is allowed to wander through there either. If we see anybody back there who doesn't belong, we are expected to challenge them; this policy was in place long before 9/11. There have been a few people who have been caught wandering in our parking lot, for no legitimate reason that they can give us, and when they refused to leave (or returned at a later time or date) they were arrested for trespass. And later convicted.

                        It would be a different story if the public were allowed to park in the same parking lot as the police vehicles.

                        "Whats the problem? Since we have NO expectation of privacy anywhere in public and since police are PUBLIC SERVANTS, whats the figgin probelm?"

                        There's a BIG difference between expectation of privacy, and your right to be at a particular place.

                        You have no expectation of privacy at a 7-11. But unless you intend to conduct business there, you have no right to be on their property either. In fact, the 7-11's in my city specifically state that your permission to be on the property expires the moment you have finished conducting legitimate business there.

                        Again, had these photos been taken from an area where the subject had a right to be (such as a public sidewalk) then I could see problems with the case. But as far as I'm concerned it's an open and shut trespassing case. The subject's own attorney apparently thinks so, otherwise he'd fight it through the courts.

                        "What about this FBI warning? I havent heard of it. Its not posted at the sheriffs dept. We dont have one at work ? Wheres it at?"

                        It's posted at our station. It was read to us in roll call a couple months ago. I recall Calibre Press mentioning it. Some were even dismissing it as an Internet Hoax.

                        [ 09-04-2002, 02:05 AM: Message edited by: Sig220Man ]

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I'm with Watchman. Total bs.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Well, we all know who will be footing the bill for this kid's education...

                            I guess what's good for the goose isn't good for the gander...

                            On a related note, I purchased this survival-type book (surviving in the woods, plane crash etc.). One of the chapters is about conduct in unstable countries (most of Africa, Middle East & what not). The number one warning to travelers (besides female warnings)? "Do not photograph military or police installations".
                            "I don't know karate. But I know Ka-RAZay! (Yes he does!)" The Payback - James Brown

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              It's rubbish. Yes, it is.
                              [email protected] "Where there is love, there is no imposition"- Albert Einstien.

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