“If you don’t feel you were treated fairly, you can call…”
I stopped listening as my mind started wondering. Would I contact Chief Johnson? And if I did, would I be able to present my side of the story and get satisfaction? Or was I out of line?
The officer standing right in front of me was watching me fumble as I erased photos from my cellphone. These were photos of a crushed bike lying in the street on Iris at Coast Hwy in Corona del Mar. There were two bikes, the other was up on the sidewalk and I never got a good look at it. To me the bikes looked like a matching blue set.
The ambulance had just pulled away as I came upon the scene. I wanted a picture of the bikes and the bloody t-shirt lying in the street; the images would underscore the need for safer conditions for cyclists along this busy roadway.
That’s when two officers jumped off the sidewalk and insisted I delete the photos I had just snapped. Read more about this.
So as I wrote up the incident I sent the Chief an email asking for comment. An hour later I got a call from Deputy Chief Dave McGill; he’s a good listener. Of course, there’s two sides to every story, but as I described my encounter with these two officers, McGill was quick to say, “I don’t like what I’m hearing.”
Which was reassuring enough. I was pretty sure I had the right, like any citizen to photograph the police in public. Chief Johnson underscored this last night:
Deputy Chief McGill is investigating the actions of the officer and will take appropriate action. He will follow-up with you on that as well. He has also directed refresher training be given to all our Patrol officers on the laws regarding photographs being taking by the public and press. This is a well established law of which all of our officers should be fully aware. Again, I apologized for your negative experience. Please know that it will be addressed appropriately.
To get any response would be satisfying, but this makes me feel that there’s a real partnership in the City between bike advocates and the police.