Results 1 to 5 of 5
  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Posts
    2

    Default Can the Police Photograph or Videotape People Walking Down the Street

    My question involves police conduct in the State of: Hawaii

    At about 10 p.m., I parked my car about half a mile from my on-campus dorm (I'm in grad school, but without an on-campus parking permit, and street parking is scarce). When I was about halfway home, walking eastbound along the northern side of a main street that runs along the southern edge of our campus, a westbound police car slowed down really carefully next to me and the police officer stared at me. I was kinda surprised and was looking in his direction.

    Police always make me nervous, from when I was in high school and got stopped a few times (even though I wasn't doing anything wrong), so I might have looked nervous this time.

    Anyway, as I'm walking past the police car, the light bar on top seemed to go on briefly, so instinctively I stopped, and I looked toward the car, and a flash went off. I think they took my picture.

    Then I remembered there was this story of a woman assaulted last Thursday, just off campus about a quarter mile from where I was. The description given by Honolulu PD has some characteristics in common with me, though I think I'm younger and better looking than the guy in the picture.

    So here's my question: Is it legal for the police, who have no reason other than a vague resemblance to some of the characteristics of last week's attacker, to take a picture of me when I'm walking down the street if I am not a suspect? How does that work?

    For the record, although I and the suspect description match on race, hair color, and age, I'm 5'7" and 150 pounds, while the suspect is 5'8" to 6'0" and weights 180 to 200 pounds.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Location
    California
    Posts
    15,371

    Default Re: Police Camera Pictures Okay for People Walking Down Street

    No law prevents ANYONE from taking a photo of you on the public street. Though, I doubt that is what was happening ... randomly taking your picture without knowing who you are can be rather pointless.

    Oh, and we don't mount flash cameras on TOP of the cars. If there was a strobe or flash, it may have been for the signal lights as some agencies mount strobes in police cars that are designed to trigger signal lights to turn green.
    A Nor Cal Cop Sergeant

    "Make mine a double mocha ...
    And a croissant!"


    End of Watch: Deputy Danny Oliver

    End of Watch: Detective Michael Davis, Jr.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Tacoma, WA
    Posts
    1,216

    Default Re: Police Camera Pictures Okay for People Walking Down Street

    Yeah, I always have to laugh when people characterize a camera being operated by police as "invasion of privacy" or " violation of civil rights." (I know OP did not do this. But, I have heard it from others...OP just brought it to mind.) Just like a person can photograph/video a police officer in a public place (providing the means of doing so is not interfering with the officer's performance of his/her duties), a police officer can also do the photographing in a public place.

    But, I agree with Carl. I seriously doubt that the police would take a picture of you as a possible suspect in a crime without at least making an effort to identify you.
    Behind the badge is a person. Behind the person is an ego. This is as it should be, person at the center and ego to the back.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Posts
    2

    Default Re: Police Camera Pictures Okay for People Walking Down Street

    Mahalo for your replies, cdwjava and PTPD22.

    Yeah, as PTPD22 noted, I am not crying civil rights (having lived much of my life in Korea, where the laws are different, I grew a bit annoyed at every little thing some of my fellow Americans encountered there being loudly decried as "violating my civil rights!").

    Rather, my concern is for something more real and more tangible. Since the Virginia Tech shooting, schools in Hawaii have responded by being much more diligent about posting information about crimes on or near campus (the aforementioned street is a relative hot spot). If a crime is reported in the area, dorm elevators, bulletin boards, etc., are plastered with descriptions and, when available, artist renditions or actual surveillance video. My worry is that the picture of me snapped along the street is shown to the victim (who successfully thwarted her knife-wielding attacker, by the way) who, one week later, thinks, "Yeah, that could be him," and then it's plastered all over the dorms, etc. (I was carrying a book bag and generally look like a student.)

    Granted, I can prove, with witnesses, that I was at The Cheesecake Factory in Waikiki at the time of the incident, after which I went home and wrote a paper that was submitted online at 11:45, but that's a whole lot of hassle and whispered suspicion I'd rather not deal with. Universities are like close-knit small towns, despite being inside a municipality of close to a million, and thing can go down a different way.

    And you may laugh, but a couple weeks ago, in an apparently different case, the artist's sketch they came up with looked eerily like one of my friends, enough that several people mentioned that to him.

    As for the camera, I saw online cameras mounted on the side bar, and the white flash was coming from the side, not the front where a traffic light-changing signal would be emitted from. Also, we were at least a hundred yards from the traffic light, and he had slowed to take a look at me, so I don't think he was trying to change the light.

    And I am nearly 100% certain he was checking me out. There was very light traffic on that road and he had slowed to a virtual stop and craned his neck to look in my direction. In fact, I thought he was turning his head to say something to me or ask me something. He didn't, though, and then the flash from the side of the car came.

    Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against the police in general or HPD specifically. I've lived in California, Hawaii, and Seoul, and my experience with the police has generally been very positive, though not perfect. HPD in particular are polite, friendly, and don't get the citizenry any guff if the citizenry don't give them any guff.

    One other question, since you guys are here. Is there anything illegal about carrying around a Swiss Army knife? I actually have one with my book bag, which comes in handy for all sorts of things (from cutting off tags to opening wine bottles) but ultimately is still a knife (can't take it on an airplane). Could I get in trouble for carrying that around? Does it make a difference whether it's in plain sight or concealed? Would that have exacerbated things had the HonoPoPo questioned me there on the spot over the incident last week?

    And please remember, I'm asking, not speechmaking.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Location
    California
    Posts
    15,371

    Default Re: Police Camera Pictures Okay for People Walking Down Street

    There might be campus rules that prohibit a Swiss Army knife, but I cannot find any state law in HI that makes possession of a folding pocket knife like that a crime, so long as it is not brandished.

    And I seriously doubt they will be posting pictures of you or anyone else around the campus as someone to watch out for unless they had something substantial to show that you were involved in some nefarious activity. You are worrying about something without any foundation. You might consider worrying about something at least as likely - like a satellite descending from orbit and falling onto you while at the Cheesecake Factory. Relax a bit.
    A Nor Cal Cop Sergeant

    "Make mine a double mocha ...
    And a croissant!"


    End of Watch: Deputy Danny Oliver

    End of Watch: Detective Michael Davis, Jr.

    1. Sponsored Links
       

Similar Threads

  1. Criminal Investigations: Walking at Night and Stopped By the Police
    By John Cooper in forum Police Investigations
    Replies: 26
    Last Post: 03-25-2012, 11:49 AM
  2. Obstruction of Justice: Is It Illegal to Photograph Police
    By Bronxite in forum Criminal Charges
    Replies: 8
    Last Post: 03-10-2012, 06:18 PM
  3. Obstruction of Justice: Walking Away from a Police Officer
    By iggy in forum Criminal Charges
    Replies: 5
    Last Post: 09-08-2011, 10:45 AM
  4. Towing: Can the Police Tow a Car on Public Street After 3 Days
    By itsjustme in forum Parking, Towing and Impound
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: 07-23-2011, 02:00 PM
  5. Harrassed Just Walking Down The Street
    By CrC32 in forum Police Investigations
    Replies: 48
    Last Post: 02-20-2008, 08:19 PM

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •  
 
Forum Sponsor
Criminal Defense Attorney
Protect your freedom. Consult a criminal defense lawyer for free.




Untitled Document