I’ve had my share of police encounters, here and abroad, public and private. When I say “police”, I mean all watchful eyes with agendas. I lump in security guards and enforcers of all kinds, including well-meaning housewives with mobile phones, minivans, and too much time on their hands “keeping an eye on things”.
Years ago my friend CM was subjected to the brutality of the Chicago police, and spent a night “detained” but not arrested. Around that time, there was an interesting video posted to the web from an independent videographer which demonstrates not only the “tricks” authorities use to get you to turn off the camera, but the things one can say to fend them off. (Windows Media, 7 minutes, 18mb)While I don’t recommend making smart-assed comments as this narrator does, I do recommend watching this video. Pay attention to the tactics of both sides. Put yourself in the photographer’s shoes and see if you wouldn’t buckle.
I am hosting the video here because I was unable to locate it on the web, despite numerous searches over the last few years. I found it on a decaying CDROM in a bin of old junk.
There are a few other sites documenting your rights as a photographer. The classic is Bert. P Krages “The Photographer’s Right. Know it. There’s another worth reading: Andrew Kantor’s Legal Rights of Photographers.
I have a few police officer friends, here (NL), Germany (WM), and Russia (MA). They are not the subject of this post, I respect them and their work.