Taking pictures in the subway isn’t illegal, but good luck convincing NYPD’s transit officers of that fact. In what has become a series of similar cases, the City of New York had to pay out $30,000 to a man who was unlawfully detained for snapping some subway shots.
Fox 5’s John Deutzman reports that Robert Palmer was at the Freeman Station in the Bronx last year when cops ordered him to stop shooting photos of the subway. When Palmer respectfully declined to erase his pictures and showed the cops his copy of the subway rules that say, “Photography, filming or video recording in any facility or conveyance is permitted,” he was handcuffed.
The cops then booked Palmer for not one but three violations. He was charged with, according to Fox, “taking photos,” “disobeying lawful order/impeding traffic,” and “unreasonable noise.” Palmer says he wasn’t being confrontational or rude, and the three charges were eventually dropped. The NYPD admitted that Palmer shouldn’t have been charged, and Palmer sued the city for his unlawful detainment. The actions of police ignorant on the law cost taxpayers that $30,000.
To make matters worse, as Fox 5 news crews were filming this story, Deutzman had his own run in with a transit authority worker. He reports, “Some guy who claimed to be a transit supervisor actually put his hand over the camera’s lens to try to stop the Fox 5 camera guy from recording video. When the so-called supervisor figured out the crew was with Fox 5, he backed off saying he didn’t realize we were ‘working press.’
As the report notes, the NYPD has sent a memo to its service members reminding them that photography is legal. Transit has done the same. Yet, still the cops and employees haven’t gotten the message. How many more taxpayer dollars will it cost the city before the rules become the rules?