September 7, 2009 by Rob Hurlbut
It would seem that San Diego Trolley Police need a few lessons in local law. The man on the ground, was smoking in the 12th & Imperial Transit Center in San Diego, CA. This happened on September 5th, 2009 at 8:20pm. Assuming that what you see the San Diego Trolley Transit Police doing is legal and assuming the transit police are keeping other public commuters safe, there should be no issue with photography taking place. If a protector of the public, whose salary is drawn from the taxes of the public is also prohibiting the public from LEGAL activities, then San Diego trolley police are breaking the law. Heritage Security has a 5 year, $25 million with San Diego which was signed in January, 2006. The hierarchy seems to be: Unarmed trolley officer, armed trolley officer, armed supervisor, armed lieutenant and armed captain. If I read the contract correctly, unarmed San Diego trolley police officers receive a 2.5% annual pay increase, while armed trolley police officers receive a 3.5% annual pay increase. There are also small pay increases every 6 months, assuming performance is satisfactory. As San Diego trolley police have constant interaction with the public, why do they prohibit photography of themselves if they are performing their job in a satisfactory manner? The contract makes no mention of a photography ban nor does it state what qualifies satisfactory performance versus unsatisfactory performance.
Some highlights from the video above are:
1) For the first 40 seconds or so, the man on the ground makes numerous requests for the officer closest to me to get his knee off of his head, and specifically, his scar which was obtained during a recent surgery to remove cancer.
2) At the 15 second mark, a female officer crosses the Trolley tracks and says, “Get away with that camera!” I can be heard to ask, “How far?” The San Diego Trolley Police Officer says, “You’re not allowed to take pictures.”
3) At the two minute mark, right after a bus passes between me and the officers and their handcuffed smoker, the same female officer from before (now on the left side of the screen) looks at me, walks to her colleagues as says something. A second later three officers turn around and look right at me. The female officer points at me, which causes a one of her own to approach me for the ensuing challenge.
UPDATE! Read my follow-up post here. My video is featured on NBC 7/39 San Diego News. Watch my interview and read a statement made by Heritage Security regarding the situation. Suffice to say that photography at San Diego Trolley Stations is in fact 100% LEGAL!
Trolley Stations Are Public Property
Photography is not illegal. You’ll hear me say that a half dozen times or so in the video, as well as asking if I am in violation of any law. Two of the San Diego Trolley Cops told me I was not allowed to take pictures. Interesting. We public commuters can look at them, show them our tickets, obey orders given by them, be tackled to the ground by them and placed, in handcuffs inside SUV’s with dark tinted windows, BUT WE CAN NOT PHOTOGRAPH THEM DOING ANY OF IT! Or so they say, at least in this video.
San Diego trolley police officers that don’t want pictures taken of them while they do their job are out of luck. If they are captured on film while tackling some one to the ground, why would photography be prohibited unless they were doing something illegal? I have emailed Heritage Security asking this question but got no reply. I would appeal to visit the contact page of Heritage Security and ask them. On that page you will find and email link with text that says [email protected], but when you hover over the link it says the email is [email protected] I hope their trolley police officer selection process is not as disorganized as their website.
A Transit Station At Night Can Be Scary Enough on It’s Own