Friday, November 1, 2013

Encountering Police while train watching

While watching and videoing in Cleveland, I had a encounter with police. This is nothing unusual, I encounter police every so often while watching trains, usually while watching light rail. Let's look at my encounter with police in Cleveland OH. I was shooting video at one of the stations, of the light rail. After a short time, two police came up and said they had a call that I was taking pictures. They wanted to talk just to ensure security. They did mention terrorism. My reply was "actually, I am taking video, for private use."
What I did was to first, reduce the cloak of suspicions, by correcting that I was taking video, not just pictures. In one short phrase, I, without suspicion, gave my reasons and motive. I was taking video for personal use.
In fact, we talked for the next 10 minutes or so, joking and laughing together. One issue that railfans deal with is being confronted by railroad employees, railroad supervisors, railroad police, and state and local police. Numerous videos have appeared on YouTube, often  entitled something like, police harassment of railfans.

It seem to me that the rail fan was a bit rude and suspicious.
Most cases, it has been because of a call they had, that prompted their talk. Sometimes it has been unusual situations. When they talk, it is no different than when they confront a gathering or even suspicious behavior.

And this video, they were Watching after dark. Any police officer would have been suspicious of any activity at that time of day. I might also note that at least one of the officers was curious about train watching. He asked if you could identify equipment and other things.
Most of my encounters with police have been friendly, respectful. In fact, most police and others seem to be apologetic. While in Mattapan, Mass. I needed to use the men's room. The police station was close by so what better place to ask. They allowed me to use theirs. We got to talking and I admitted that I was taking pictures and video. I asked what policy was there. We joked around a bit and they finally said that I could take all the picture I wanted, just stay safe. If I got any grief from anyone just refer them their way.

In another, I was going to the office of the RR. A railroad security came up, in his car, and told me that I was trespassing. I told him that I was just going to the RR office to see their policy of picture taking and trespassing. He answered that there was no one in their office, so I turned to leave. His first question was where I parked, which was in a public parking. As I was leaving he followed in his car but we continued to talk. He told me where the trains were and were the best place to take picture.

Yes, they do check us out. What about other people. They seem to treat us the same. They are even friendly when we are.

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