Skip to comments.Should it be a crime to take pictures of accident scenes?
Posted on 05/21/2020 5:10:26 PM PDT by Kaslin
After the crash of a helicopter carrying Kobe Bryant and several other people last year, a bit of a scandal erupted when it was determined that one of the sheriffs responding to the scene had taken photographs of the wreckage and the bodies of the victims. Those photos leaked out into the public over social media, causing distress to the families of some of the victims. But while certainly a tasteless thing to do, it wasnt technically illegal so there wasnt much to be done about it. That will change in the near future if a new bill introduced in the California Assembly makes it into law, however. The bills sponsors are seeking to criminalize the taking or sharing of photographs of crime scenes or accident scenes by first responders. (CBS Los Angeles)
A bill that would make it a misdemeanor for first responders to share accident and crime scene photos in the wake of the Kobe Bryant helicopter crash has passed through its first policy committee and is expected to get support Wednesday from Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva. AB-2655 was introduced earlier this month by Assemblyman Mike A. Gipson, D-Carson, after eight Los Angeles County sheriffs deputies had been confirmed to be involved in taking or sharing photos of the helicopter crash site where the Lakers star, his 13-year-old daughter Gigi and seven others died
The photos that were shared were reportedly of the crash site and victims remains, and had been shared by a deputy trainee trying to impress a woman at a bar a few days after the crash.
Anyone found committing this crime could be in line for a maximum punishment of one year in jail and a $5,000 fine.
While its unsurprising to see California trying to criminalize virtually anything other than illegal immigration, this bill seems to have a number of problems. As I mentioned at the top, its obviously distasteful to photograph a tragedy (and particularly the remains of the recently deceased), but should it be illegal? Assuming the accident takes place out in public as most of them do, rather than on private property, people are generally free to take all the pictures they want. And unless youre trying to profit from someone elses image without their consent, you generally arent going to get into trouble for it.
This bill doesnt apply to everyone, though. Its specifically targeting first responders, including law enforcement officers, firemen and paramedics. Thats an awfully specific law, isnt it? And even if you can single out first responders for punishment but not the general public (which is questionable to begin with), doesnt that just massively dilute the intended purpose of the legislation? If two cars wind up in a head-on collision, the police and ambulance workers responding to the scene would be forbidden from taking pictures, but everyone else rubbernecking as they pass by could whip out their phones and live stream all the action on Twitter.
Even if such a law were restricted to only crime scenes instead of including accidents it would still be on shaky ground. When police respond to some perceived emergency situation, they frequently wont know for a while whether its actually a crime scene or just an unfortunate accident. Its understandable why the police wouldnt want crime scene photos making the rounds in the early stages of an investigation, but it seems as if most first responders would already understand this and restrain themselves.
In order for this action to be limited to first responders, it seems to me that it would be better enacted as departmental policy in the first response units. They could provide for their own disciplinary measures for those found to be violating the rules. Making this a state law seems like an effort thats doomed to fail if anyone challenges it.
No such law needed.
Not only no, but H*** NO!
I agree, no.
What kind of law will only be enforced on a small select few?
You already control them with their pay check. Do you need this kind of leverage over your employees? Just make them slaves instead.
Of course, more laws is always the answer.
If people are violating laws by crossing a police tape, or touching things, we already have charges for that kind of thing. Now if they cross a police line and arent supposed to be there and take pictures, their pictures ought to be forfeited as they were taken while breaking the law.
The Amazon Compost's masthead is,in fact,correct: "Democracy Dies In Darkness".Of course the problem with that masthead is that the Compost doesn't give a rat's hindquarters about democracy.
Would it pass 1st amendment challenge?
We have enough laws.
No law is needed but people should be aware of potential unintended consequences when they post pics like the one above.
Yes, there was a great deal that could have been done about it.
Was the person who took the photos fired?
Was their pension and other privileges revoked?
Was their name published along with pictures of them?
Oh, there is a great deal that could have been done.
With today’s technology, cameras in every hand, the first responders to a scene are generally not cops or firemen, but everyday people who happen to be there first.
Too many taxes
Too many laws
Nope. No problem with restricting on duty cops ability to use photos for personal use (technically they are evidence)
But a HUGE problem with stopping the general public. There are numerous historical photos this lunacy would have prevented. Howard Hughes crash scene, Oswald being shot, the Hindenburg, the Michael Hastings Mercedes crash, etc etc.
This is police state bullshit. If a citizen is standing somewhere legal, they should be able to photograph all that they can see with their eyes. This post 9/11 restricted photo zones crap is reminiscent of the USSR mentality.
EIGHT deputies did this.
Also, did the media run ANY of these photos?
Did the media PAY anyone for the use of the photos or did they just take them from the web and credit “twitter” etc?
A forensics photographer would be on scene regardless of these deputies and under Freedom of Information Act said photos could be obtained and released by anyone who sought them. Even the security camera footage of the Columbine Massacre was obtained by a FOIA request.
This is a more reasoned approach.
“Journalistas” would be granted an exemption, no doubt. But this law is targeting the first responders. I guess because the family tried suing the deputies and discovered it wasn’t already against the law.
Quite the repressed fascist, aren’t ya?
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