September 20, 2012
American Society of Media Photographers (ASMP)
Eugene H. Mopsik, Executive Director
Phone: 215-451-2767 ext 201
Philadelphia, PA... The American Society of Media Photographers (ASMP) has joined with the National Press Photographers Association (NPPA) and several other associations including the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ), the Los Angeles Times, the Radio Television Digital News Association (RTDNA), the Press Photographers Association of Greater Los Angeles (PPAGLA), the Society of Professional Journalists - Greater Los Angeles Chapter (SPJ-LA) and the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press (RCFP) in a letter to the Los Angeles Police Department to express their concerns over a recently issued Special Order.
The order, "Reporting Suspicious Activity Potentially Related to Foreign or Domestic Terrorism and the Suspicious Activity Report Notebook Divider, Form 18.30.03," suggests that "photography" is a potential criminal activity and asserts that "taking pictures or videos of facilities/buildings, infrastructures, or protected sites in a manner that would arouse suspicion in a reasonable person" may constitute terrorist or criminal activity.
In the letter to Los Angeles Chief Beck, NPPA General Counsel Mickey H. Osterreicher states, "In any free country the balance between actual vigilance and over-zealous enforcement is delicate. It is one thing for law enforcement to act when there is probable cause; it is quite another to abuse that discretion in order to create a climate that infringes upon free speech under the pretext of safety and security." The letter goes on to request that the order be revised and that any reference to photography be removed.
According to ASMP Executive Director Eugene Mopsik, "ASMP believes that it is crucial that photographers everywhere are afforded their rights to freedom of expression." ASMP General Counsel Victor S. Perlman said, "It is important that law enforcement officers understand that photography is not a crime and photographers are not criminals."
A number of ASMP members have recently come forward to report their experiences with law enforcement officers who used unnecessary force and interfered with their First Amendment rights. ASMP has been closely monitoring the policies and behaviors by law enforcement officials toward photographers in various US cities.
ASMP is the premier trade association for imaging professionals and is a well-known leader on current issues, regularly representing the industry on legislative matters and providing members with state-of-the-art information and education. ASMP members are recognized as a community of forward-thinking professionals.