Tempers Flare Over Photography Story
POSTED: Friday, August 13, 2010 - 5:42pm
UPDATED: Monday, August 16, 2010 - 10:10am
EL PASO - A story we aired last night seems to have struck a nerve, especially with some people connected to the El Paso County Sheriff's Office.
In our report yesterday, we told you how a Sheriff's Deputy said he takes issue with "ordinary civilians" taking pictures and video in El Paso. We asked the question, "why would a deputy take issue with something that's legal and, in fact, protected by our first amendment right?" To help answer that question we spoke to three people, the District Attorney, a civil rights attorney and the Sheriff himself. All of them agreed there is absolutely nothing wrong with photography, and the Sheriff himself admitted it might be time to re-educate deputies on this citizen right.
"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," Sheriff Richard Wiles said.
We ran the story because we wanted to make sure people in El Paso County were aware of their rights, and at the same time do our job as reporters by questioning the deputy, a public official, when he said he took issue with something that doesn't break the law.
Despite the fact our story focused on photography laws, it's stirred up quite a bit of controversy on the internet. After our report aired, the Sheriff's Office posted a link to our story on their Facebook page and asked people if the deputy did anything wrong. However, that's a completely separate issue being raised by the Sheriff's Office themselves. We never said or implied the deputy did anything wrong, again we were simply questioning why he takes issue with something that's legal.
In the end the facts stand for themselves. People have a constitutional right to take pictures or video in public places. Deputies have the right to question those people, but, according to the Sheriff, those people do not have to answer deputies.
As always I welcome any feedback on my stories. You can e-mail me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.