Tuesday, May 14, 2013

TWD Filming Update (5/14/13)


       Man, yesterday was a pretty eventful day for some fans watching the filming in Griffin, Georgia. I've gotten more than one report from fans there stating that the police were threatening to seize cameras from fans if they began taking pictures. I've talked to several fans who stated that one particular officer was very hateful and overly aggressive regarding phones & cameras.

      This upsets me greatly. There are many reasons why & I'll start by stating that I'm a retired Deputy Sheriff. I was in law enforcement for 11 years, six of which was spent as a Sergeant in Investigations - I even worked 3 years in undercover narcotics under a GBI ran Task Force. All of my career was spent in the West Georgia area. I understand the laws and I obey them.

Now, lets get down to business now that you, my friends, see that I know what I'm talking about.


A big question in determining whether your expectation of privacy is "reasonable" and protected by the Fourth Amendment arises when you have "knowingly exposed" something to another person or to the public at large. A man in a phone booth having a conversation: He does have a reasonable expectation of privacy in the sound of his conversation, but does he have had a reasonable expectation of privacy in his appearance or actions while inside the glass phone booth? No.

I would have to say that the production has foreknowledge that it is knowingly exposing itself AND the general public ( as evidenced by its own promotional materials/articles/interviews/press releases regarding production) and therefore it is afforded the same protection as any other person, business, etc to their privacy. In this case, it means that they have the same expectations of being readily observed by the public as well, just like any other person or business.

DISCLAIMER: "Just because you can do a thing, doesn't mean you must/should do that thing."

A law enforcement officer cannot seize your personal property, except under very specific conditions. Yesterdays circumstances was NOT one of those specific circumstances. Here's why:

In the Great State of Georgia, it is totally legal to take pictures & video wherever there is NO "expectation of privacy". (Police have dash cams & remote audio, remember? There are security cameras pointed in every direction, remember?) Things, people,and places, that are in the open field of view of the public can be photographed readily because they have no "expectation of privacy"; that is if you take the picture or video from a readily recognized public place. You cannot take pictures through windows of a place or structure as that violates their right to privacy.

EXAMPLE: You can drive down a State or County or City road, stop and take a picture of a house sitting in the middle of a field and it's legal. You cannot, however, go onto their property and take the picture, nor can you use telescopic attachments to aid your photographic intrusion into their expectation of privacy. That would be breaking the law and just plain creepy.

EXAMPLE: You're walking down the street and decide to take pictures of people doing the same. That's perfectly legal and you do not need their permission, because in public there is no "expectation of privacy".

EXAMPLE: If you're walking down a street that has visual access to another street that is blocked off for some reason, you can legally take unaided photos of whatever you can see from your public position.

EXAMPLE: If you see your favorite actor walking down the street, you can take all the pictures/video you want without permission. If they don't want their picture taken, then be respectful and don't do it- that only common sense and courtesy.

Yesterday, the production allowed fans to gather at a certain point near the production. So, they themselves placed fans in their own allowable and viewable situation. They knowingly and purposefully did this fully aware that fans would take pictures.

The question arises to me, now that we have set the stage, why did police threaten to take away cameras from the public in a place that was purposefully set up for fans to congregate and that the production knew they had a certain level of privacy? The answer lies with the officer.

The law says the seizure of property is only allowable under strict and specific circumstances. Well, the circumstances were already set by the production itself. What happens outside in the public area, with the exception of preventing illegal activity against the production/location & maintaining order of a crowd, is considered open and public. The law applies. There should have been no threat or removing of cameras from fans, unless fans were using telescopic lenses in which to violate the productions right to privacy.

Unless, there are extenuating circumstances that I have not yet been made aware of, there is no reasonable explanation for law enforcement to threaten such action within those set of circumstances.

I'll delve more into this issue later.

Remember, this is not a recommendation for going nuts on the concept. I present it as my own opinions regarding the interpretation of Georgia law and the circumstances as they were relayed to me.


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