Photography in El Paso Could Lead to Deputy Interrogation


POSTED: Thursday, August 12, 2010 - 5:54pm

UPDATED: Wednesday, August 18, 2010 - 10:43am

EL PASO - If you decide to take pictures or video anywhere in El Paso you could end up being questioned by Sheriff's Deputies.

While shooting video for a story we aired a few weeks ago a Sheriff's Deputy came up and questioned one of our reporters.

Here's what he said: "As long as you're with the news no problem, but if you're an ordinary civilian out here that has no reason to really record the building then that becomes an issue."

But why would an ordinary civilian taking pictures be an issue? District Attorney Jaime Esparza says there's nothing wrong with anyone taking pictures in public

"If you're in a public place where you have a right to be you can take photographs whether you're a news agency or a private person."

When we asked the deputy who ordered him to question our reporter he answered the Department of Homeland Security. Briana Stone, a civil rights attorney, says that's a common excuse from cops since 9/11.

"If the New York City Police, where 9/11 actually happened, know that taking photos isn't a threat to Homeland Security then deputies in El Paso, Texas should know that too."

The District Attorney also weighed in: "Our right to public safety and security, unless it can be clearly described, is going to take a backseat to our right to take photographs and video."

Sheriff Richard Wiles also brought up 9/11, and said deputies are just being extra careful.

"We are very cautious and we will go up and talk to people and ask them what they're doing and there's nothing wrong with that."

Although Wiles did say deputies shouldn't stop you from taking pictures or video.

"You know, we've had this talk before and we have to remind our people from time to time, and again this may be an area where we have to re-educate our workforce here."

Comments News Comments

Don't listen to the propaganda of the East Asians, citizens - that can only lead to badthink! Here in Orwellian America only the government may watch everyone secretly. Any attempt by you to do the same will result in you going down the memory hole. Long live Big Brother!

are you guys all nuts???? Photography is not a Crime.

Mr. Garcia let me ask you what you did on 911? Sit in your offices on your butt and did nothing. How ever there were lots of people who did not sit there, they were police officers firefighters and ems personal. Since it has been proven that the people behind the attacks did surveillance for months before this day it is not unreasonable for a police officer to question some one filming a building for any length of time. I would have to question the officer if he didnt. So stop being such a baby!

Wow where is this proof of surveillance you claim, I have never heard of it before. Produce your proof, surely you did not hold it to yourself all this time.

I currently work in L. E. and I can tell you that I have responded to this type of call. People forget that police officers have a sworn duty to protect the public and property, especially when ANY reasonable person would believe a crime is being committed or about to be committed. Less than half of 1% of police officers commit crimes or violate civil rights. 105 officers killed this year, 12 in July alone, which were protecting YOU by asking QUESTIONS. PLEASE, walk a day in my shoes before judg

Sooo.... a person taking photos in public places of buildings is committing or about to commit the "crime" of first amendment? Please explain what crime a photographer is committing by exercising their rights?

I have, for 33 years however I do my job right! You're right, police officers have a sworn duty to protect but within the scope of the law, not what he thinks the law is, not the law he creates. The public are the police and the police are the public. Ever heard of that? Held to a higher standard does not mean above the law. I've walked many days in your shoes!

in the homeland security act the words photographer or photography are not mentioned. if it is not posted otherwise or is not covered by copyright it may be photographed. your home is protected and recently built public buildings are covered by copyright; yes buildings are covered by copyright. photographers use common sense; when in doubt get permission to photograph; law enforcement don't quote law that doesn't exist and a little courtesy goes a long way. private security are by far the worst.

Mr. Garcia'
Why are you whining about a Deputy doing his job. If you didn't have anything to hide then talking to the deputy for a few moments would not hurt, unless you fell that because you work for a news station puts you above the law. I have been a law enforcement officer for 38 years, working in both a large city and small and I have seen some news reporters act like "jerks" because they are untouchable. If you had someone trying to rob you who would be the first person you would call.

Ohh the 'nothing wrong, nothing to hide' argument. You are doing nothing wrong when you make love to your partner, so how about you tell me and I will come around and watch next time, you have nothing to hide right?

Well Mr. L.E. officer, in Mr. Garcia's defense I must ask, A Deputy doing his job?? Well then maybe L.E. should consider legislation for a concealed camera permit or permit to use a camera in public? Talking with a deputy is not what took place. The Deputy wasn't talking he was trying to enforce something that doesn't exist. I've also seen and know L.E. officers who act like "jerks" because they think they are "untouchable" and above the law. L.E. is held to a higher standard, most places?

Well it seems that public support of the L.E. Officer and that particular department are frugal. Ignorance is a bliss! There was nothing illegal being done by the photographer or anyone else who may have found themselves in similar situations. That badge represents a public trust which has to be earned. That sheriff lives among the community but seems to believe he's above all. Sheriff, don't allow your dept. to be tarnished?

Wow this is interesting. Having traveled to many countries, I have never run into an instance like this. I doubt that many people with bad intentions openly photograph the place they intend to do harm on; would just be too easy to finger them later. With that having been said, being a photographer (hobby) I am conscious of what I take pictures of. When in doubt, I ask before photographing.

You're at home and observe someone taking pictures of houses,family etc what would you do? Confront them? NO you wouldn't You'd call the local authorities and complain that someone is acting suspiciously near your house correct? YES correct. Now if the officer on the other end of the phone replied Sir there's no need for Police assistance as this person is not committing any crime. What Would your reaction then be??? Yeah exactly. Find some real news to report stop stirring the pot of nonsense

if sheriff deputies are asking people why they are taking pictures or video out in public without no probable cause, then there should be no copmplaints about them asking people for proof of u.s.citizenship which is more important than taking snapshots.

Wonder what would happen if someone was to just stand around and photograph/videotape the newspaper building. Would they be calling security or the police to investigate, which means asking questions.
Or how about an apartment complex where dozens live, or how about any building would do.
I would much rather have an officer ask me what I am doing then not. Then the OFFICER is doing his job protecting me and others. Especially with all the drug cartels around. Come on people get a gripe. Tammy

The LEO was not wrong in asking what he was doing, he was completely ripping the first amendment to shreds and making up his own version of the law when he claimed that private citzens cannot take photographs of buildings. WTF has this story got anything to do with drug cartels? Do they often go around taking photos of buildings? Did you sample their wares before sitting in front of the keyboard?

Erika. Police and Security personnel are tasked with treating everyone the same while protecting life and property. If JQ Pedophile was videoing children would you be concerned? Unfortunately in the litigious society we live in today you can't take chances so everyone suffers. Is it right? No. Its it prudent? Probably. Is it Neseccary? Absolutely. I wish things were differant.

Huh? Pedophiles take photos, so all photographers are pedophiles? Terrorists drink water, do you?

Stop Whining. What would you do if the vidieo or pictures were bing used to plan the destruction of the building, and your loved ones were in there? Everyone wants freedom from everything. I want my freedoms too. I also want security.

If you wish to have more security and believe that the first amendment is getting in the way then set about dedicating your life to having it removed.

the intent to commit a crime does not inherently criminalize every action taken to realize the crime. if you would argue otherwise, then you must necessarily be for the banning of literacy as a great many books have inspired acts of terrorism and revolution. your statement comparing freedom to security is utilizing a straw man of your own creation; the right to photograph and record video in the public arena is not contrary to security.

taking pictures or recording video in a PUBLIC place may lead to questioning? for all the money spent on the police in this town, they're still unaware of some of the most basic tenets of civil liberty. the cops aren't being extra careful; they're being extra stupid and that's entirely inexcusable. there's a difference between enforcing the law and simply making up the law. do our police understand that? by this article, the answer is 'no'.

It's a problem if you take a photograph in a public place, but government officals are allowed to rape minors and not be fired. Grow a set, fire the a-h on the ethics committee who is a pedophile. Spend less time harrassing tax payers and more time mucking with criminals. What a crock. What is the penalty of recording an official breaking the law?

This happened to me 3 years ago at cielo vista. Only difference is it was one of the security officers who told me not to be recording video. My husband,my then 3 yr old son and I were in the play area at the mall, and my husband was videotaping my son playing around on the slide etc.. So then the security came over and said we had to stop videotaping him because it was for protection of all the other kids there. So my question is was that true or false?

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