Sunday, October 23, 2011

December issue of "Trains"

The December issue of Trains will be out next week. I have an advance copy because AccuWeather's Steve Pryor and I helped them put together their "Map of the Month." This map shows the areas where the weather is typically worst on U.S. railroads.

If you pick up the magazine, don't miss Don Philips' column on DHS and its ridiculous crusade against photography on page 9. Yes, even I have been approached and questioned by a policeman while taking train pictures.

You might also have heard the news that the TSA is expanding its program of stopping vehicles on the nation's highways. You used to be able to avoid the TSA by not flying. That is no longer the case.

As much as I'd like to say it is just the TSA doing this it is not: get a load of this quote from Long Beach, California:

Captain Steven M. Roller of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department has told Long Beach Post that it is standard practice to detain and pat down photographers for "potential terrorist" activity such as photographing a courthouse.

How long are we going to continue to put up with these threats to our liberties?!

Don ends his column by quoting Benjamin Franklin, Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety. Agree 100%! Thanks, Don.


  1. Maybe you should go out on a ride-along with local law enforcement to see what the job is like from THEIR end of things. Not everyone that the police deal with are nice guys who are just out enjoying their hobby. The police don't know you and they don't know what you're up to. I'm happy that the police are checking out people who are photographing trains (and airports, and power plants, and bridges, etc). If you choose to do this hobby, you also have to choose to accept what comes with it. Let the officer do their job, cooperate, and you'll both be on your way in a few minutes. What's the problem??

  2. "Let the officer do their job, cooperate, and you'll both be on your way in a few minutes. What's the problem??"

    I did just that and we were both on our way in a few minutes. The officer was very professional.

    The problem is that photographing trains or a courthouse while on public property is a completely legal activity. It is NOT the job of law enforcement to harass people engaged in legal activities.

    This is supposed to be a free country.

  3. With regard to the 2:05pm comment, please see this:

  4. This IS a free country. I don't know how long it will remain that way with this president and the leftists who want otherwise. And I did read your link to the pajamasmedia piece, but what on earth does that have to do with the topic at hand? You are trying to connect "contempt of cop" to photographing trains? That's quite a stretch.

    Let me put this a different way. Let's assume for a moment that somebody (an anonymous citizen, or a named citizen--it doesn't really matter for this example---just SOMEONE) calls 911 to report a suspicious person. Let's assume that this person tells the dispatcher that there is a guy taking pictures of trains, and the person thinks it's suspicious because he or she doesn't know what the person is up to and feels that the person should be checked out. Okay, so the dispatcher types it into the computer and a call goes out over the radio for a suspicious person. Now, the officer who works that beat is assigned to the call. When he arrives on the scene, let's say he sees the person that was called in---the description matches exactly---now what?? Does the officer wave, and then drive away and resume patrol? What about the citizen who called in the suspicious person? What if that citizen is looking out their window and they see the police car arrive, they see the police officer give a friendly wave, and they see the officer drive away. Don't you think that the citizen would probably be saying to themselves, "What the hell was THAT??". Don't you think that the officer is obligated to stop and talk to the person taking pictures---even if the photographer is standing in a perfectly LEGAL location? Isn't it the duty of the officer to investigate this call? What's wrong with the officer stopping and talking to the photographer? In your view, this would be "harassment"---but in the officer's view, he is only doing his job.

    Now what??

  5. Sorry, if a person is engaged in an entirely legal activity the police should leave them alone. Period.

    And, yes, there are some police men and women who are complete jerks. Some are incompetent. That is where "contempt of cop" comes into the picture.

    Law enforcement has the upper hand whenever they stop someone. If the LE person is on a power trip then bad things can happen.

  6. I'm sure there are plenty of terrorists that are using high quality cameras like me and others to take pictures of trains passing by. Most cell phone cameras can capture pictures and be MUCH LESS suspicious than using the huge camera. I've been stopped a few times too, and thankfully they have been nice and just asked what I was doing and even had a brief conversation, but you also hear about people going to jail cause of taking pictures of trains ON PUBLIC PROPERTY because of overzealous cops who want to look good. Those same cops detained a friend and took his pictures because they claimed he was on private property in a public park.

    I think 99% of those who chase trains are ok with a cop asking what you are doing and being nice and just going away after asking, but there is also that 1% of cops that are trying to make themselves look cool and big due to a power trip. THAT needs to stop.

    Alan R.

  7. Mike, the world doesn't work in the perfect manner that you think it does. Just because someone is doing something perfectly legal does not give you a teflon coating. I guess the next time you might need to call 911 for something and the police tell you "sorry but that's not illegal", you'll be perfectly happy with that. Maybe you will be, but that's not reality. In many police departments, they have a policy where "you call a cop, and you get a cop". This is all part of Community Oriented Policing and the old days of saying "we won't respond to that" are over. If someone wants a cop to come check something out, guess what, the cops are going to check it out---AS THEY SHOULD. Once the officer stops and talks with you and verifies you're cool, that's it, event over--and everyone goes back to their lives.

    I'll just be direct in my opinion here: I am sick and tired of railfans crying waaaaaaaa every time the police are doing what they get paid to do. These cries of "Nazi" and other things are just ridiculous. I'm not saying that you are saying Nazi, but so many railfans do--and that is asinine. I want to know that if I see something suspicious and I call 911, I want to KNOW that the police will investigate it. If you disagree with that, then I guess there's nothing more I can say.

  8. I have always thought it's pretty ridiculous to even think that those wishing to conduct acts of terror would even need to take photos of any target. There are millions and millions of photos at our fingertips on the web. If the TSA and others were that concerned, they should shut down things like Google Earth and other such programs. There is far more info out there then there really needs to be.

  9. Anonymous cop supporter must have never got talked to by the cops with all his special badges he got. Must be nice to be a privileged rail fan like that and not like the people that are not part of the mafia like him! And must be too chicken to post a real name so the TSA doesn't come after him too!

  10. Bahhh hahh hahh! An anonymous poster bashing an anonymous poster. Dude, get out of your mom's basement and take a shower!

    No, I don't have any special privileges you idiot. And yes, I have been stopped three times. Twice by cops and once by private security. OMG I lived to tell about it!

    You guys need to stop taking the hobby so seriously and get a life. This might be a news flash to you but there ARE bad people out there.

  11. People, lets elevate the content of the discussion. No more "Nazi" comments and no more insults, please.


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