Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Photography is not a crime on MetroRail

via Miami Herald / JOHN VANBEEKUM

Back on May 16 the blog Photography is not a Crime posted an item about a tourist who said he was "Harrassed in Miami by Metrorail Chief of Security" for taking pictures at a MetroRail station.

I use Metrorail on occasion and have taken pictures from the Government Center station from time to time and have never been bothered.

Curious as to why someone from the transit authority would confront a tourist with a camera, I sent an email to Harpal Kapoor, director of Miami Dade Transit asking for clarification on the legality of taking pictures at MetroRail stations.

In my email I explain that I learned of the incident on a blog but he apparently thinks that I'm the one who was confronted.

But the rest of his email is clear: It's OK to take non-commercial pictures at MetroRail stations.

However, he does explain that "security personnel and/or any MDT employee are encouraged to inquire as to what objects/images a patron is photographing." The entire email is below:
From: Kapoor, Harpal (MDT
Sent: Tue 5/26/09 11:25 AM
To: newshawk@gmail.com
Cc: Muntan, Eric (MDT); Chen, Hugh (MDT); Forbes, Clinton (MDT)

Thank you for your electronic correspondence in which you advised Miami-Dade Transit (MDT) that you would like clarification as to whether or not individuals are allowed to take photographs of the Metrorail system. In your correspondence, you indicate that you were told that you could not photograph unless you possessed a permit.

MDT regrets any inconvenience or embarrassment this incident may have caused you. MDT is not aware of any federal, state, or local law which would prohibit personal photography at our facilities. The incident that you experienced appears to have been the result of the misinterpretation of local county law, specifically Miami-Dade County Code 30(B), which requires permits for commercial photography. MDT also requires permitting for photography when it involves equipment other than a hand-held camera (i.e. tripods, cables/wires, screens, etc.), which could pose a potential safety hazard to other patrons. Although not prohibited, security personnel and/or any MDT employee are encouraged to inquire as to what objects/images a patron is photographing. This is done not with the intent of harassing patrons or station occupants, but rather as a means of ensuring the security of our infrastructure and the general public and ensuring that commercial activity is not being performed.

Miami-Dade Transit certainly acknowledges the efforts of your work. We have advised the MDT Office of Safety and Security and our security contractor, The Wackenhut Corporation, that there are no prohibitions against taking photographs for personal purposes and that the public should not be prohibited from doing so, as long as taking these photographs does not violate Miami-Dade County Code, Chapter 30B.

On behalf of MDT, I thank you for bringing your concern to our attention. Should you have additional questions or concerns about security on the MDT system, please call the MDT, Office of Safety and Security at 305-375-4240.

Harpal S. Kapoor
Miami-Dade Transit
701 NW 1st Court, 17th Floor
Miami, Florida 33136

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