March 10, 2015
L.A. Sheriff Deputies Are No Longer Empowered To Be Photo Critics
The LAPD, Long Beach police and the LA County Sheriff had adopted guidelines saying that taking photos with "no aesthetic value" was sufficient to stop a photographer for questioning. I would dearly have liked to sit in on the class where every cop in those agencies were trained to appreciate the aesthetic value of photos they couldn't even see. But now, L.A. County has come to a settlement with the ACLU in which they agree to stop doing that. The ACLU will provide training material for the Sheriff.
The training, supplied through a newsletter detailing the LASD policy and given to all new recruits and to all deputies assigned to patrol, states that members of the public "have a First Amendment right to observe, take photographs, and record video in any public place where they are lawfully present" and prohibits deputies from "interfering, threatening, intimidating, blocking or otherwise discouraging" photographers from taking photos or video unless they are violating a law.