That tenuous line of love and hate between photographer and law enforcement has surfaced again. Recently we have discussed several situations in which conflict between police and photographers have made headlines. It would appear that some mixed feelings still remain on both sides of the line.
In an unfortunate encounter in Massachusetts, former cop and news photographer Robert Bastille was physically threatened by a police officer. It appears the officer chose to ignore the law in which she had taken an oath to uphold. Over the course of events, according to Bastille, the officer threatened, verbally assaulted, abused, publicly humiliated, and unlawfully detained the photographer. Bastille was only released after a Lieutenant intervened.
If this “officer” was capable of making criminal violent threats, she was capable of anything. At this point I no longer looked on her as an “officer of the law” in the true sense of the term, but rather as a belligerent thug with way too much power.
As a photographer and reporter that served as a cop in the very same city, Bastille has a reputation of reporting on events in which law enforcement is involved with the highest respect. He states “having personal experience working as a Barnstable Cop … it is [difficult] for officers in the field. Police work is often a thankless job, where the reputations of good officers often suffer because of the corrupt and criminal actions of a very small minority of bad apples.”
Hopefully bringing such behavior to light will result in a better understanding on both sides of this relationship. Photographers, especially those covering current events, should be aware of their rights and responsibilities, as well as the officers that are bound by law to protect them.
Officer Confronted After Threatening to Strike Photographer
“EDITOR’S NOTE…This video occurs right after the officer threatened to bash my camera into my face. I was frightened, upset, and extremely nervous after just having been attacked… the officer saw I was not going to tolerate her bullying me by saying that she was going to take my camera and smash it in my face… I was in shock and my speech is jittery and unprepared… it is what it is…raw video and emotion after just having been assaulted.”
For the full account of the events, see the original report here.