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 agarcia@ktsm.com.

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I feel for the sheriff or any law enforcement officers, their ability to enforce the law being documented could compromise their ability to carry out their role or duties, if they perform their jobs in good faith, responsibility and ability yet knowing some one could see and use those pictures or video to sue for any number of reasons, usually greed and not the actual enforcement of law, I would have reservation and pause in all that I do. They shouldn't have to work under a microscope

the police, being public servants, should have no issues whatsoever working "under a microscope." their job description is to be ethical and mindful of the law at all times, not to make up the law as they see fit. documenting them doing their jobs properly no more opens them up to lawsuits then it does anybody else or any other employed group of public servants.

To some extent you're correct however every L.E. officer knows that that they will live under the microscope when they agree to take on the duties and take the oath. They are held to a higher standard! Unfortunately the bad guy don't have policies or procedures, a how to do it law bible nor their own Geneva Convention rules. L.E. does and doing it right is everthing.

Good job on reporting that in someways we are losing our rights because an authority figure takes it upon themselves to try and control us.

Well it seems to me as a L.E. individual that this department or whoever is soliciting public opinion is wanting to be tried by his peers. Good choice if you're in court however any jury would suggest that L.E. is above the law and that ignorance is not a defense. I would bet from what I see posted that the effort has now gone to L.E. sites or such for support? It doesn't matter the sheriff needs to follow up on his suggestion, re-educate your workforce!

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