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Cops confiscate reporter’s camera, firestorm follows


Cops confiscate reporter’s camera, firestorm follows
‘Do I sound like I’m negotiating with you

The prosecutor’s office in Ocean County, New Jersey, says its officers will undergo training sessions on how to deal with media members after a detective arrested and confiscated the camera of a photographer who responded to a motor-vehicle accident.

Charges against the reporter are in the process of being dismissed, Public Affairs Director Al Della Fave told WND Monday.

A video about the confrontation was posted online by photographer Andrew Flinchbaugh, 23, who contributes to a local news site.

A report by Chris Matyszczyk at CNET noted that as long as photographers are not obstructing officers in their duties, it’s legal to film their activities.

“When every member of the public is in possession of a camera, there is a greater probability of information emerging instantly,” the writer commented. “That may be what some police officers fear the most.”

The officer had approached the photographer, said he would give him a receipt and then demanded the camera.

“This is not a negotiation. Do I sound like I’m negotiating with you?” he said.

The photographer refused.

The reasons for wanting the camera remained unclear, but Flinchbaugh did offer to play the video for the officer or send him a copy.

Instead, the photographer was arrested and his camera was taken.

“I refused because I believe that that’s our First Amendment right,” Flinchbaugh discussing the case with Philadelphia’s NBC-TV affiliate.

CNET speculated: “There may be a personal element to this case, as the individual involved in the accident was reportedly another detective in the prosecutor’s office.”

Della Fave told WND there were “issues on both sides” but that the case was resolved. The photographer was released, his camera was returned and prosecutors were in the process Monday of dismissing charges against the photographer.

He told WND no one from the prosecutor’s office had viewed the video.

“At this point, we’ve issued a clear directive to all members on how to handle photographers,” he said.

And he said the officers were being scheduled immediately for training on media-related issues.

He said the training already has taken place for the 32 municipal departments in the county, and the next level now was being set up.


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