BALTIMORE (WJZ) — The Maryland Transit Administration says more training may be called for after three MTA officers detained a man for taking pictures at a light rail station.

Pat Warren has more on the incident.

According to the ACLU, this isn’t the first time MTA Police have overstepped their bounds.

In a YouTube posting, Christopher Fussell left the camera rolling when he was confronted by three MTA officers for taking pictures at the Baltimore Cultural Light Rail Station.

“It is my understanding that I am free to take pictures as long as it’s not for commercial purposes but for personal use,” Fussell said in the video.

“Not on state property, not without proper authorization,” an officer said.

Fussell:  “From who?”

Officer:  “Nobody’s allowed to take pictures.”

The MTA admits the officers were in error.

“They can most certainly take photos of our system,” Ralign Wells, the MTA Administrator, said.

In addition to being wrong about MTA and state policy, the officer incorrectly cites the Patriot Act.

“Listen, listen to what I’m saying.  The Patriot Act says that critical infrastructure, trains, train stations, all those things require certain oversight to take pictures, whether you say they are for personal use or whatever, that’s your story,” the officer said.

“So why don’t you have any signs posted to say I cannot take pictures?” Fussell said.

“Our officers have become very sensitive post 9/11 and we’re trying to see that they understand our passengers and citizens also have a right to take pictures,” Wells said.

The officer eventually threatened to take Fussell into custody.

“Do you have Maryland state identification on you?” the officer asked.

“I am not committing a crime,” Fussell said.

“Sir, I’m going to ask you one last time, then I’m going to take you into custody.  Do we understand each other?” the officer said.

The ACLU considers it harassment by the MTA.

“This is not South Africa under apartheid and in this country, police do not have the right to walk up to you and demand you produce identification to them,” said David Rocah, ACLU.

The MTA acknowledges that additional training is in order.

“We’ll look at our training processes, we’ll look at whether any administrative situations need to occur with those officers,” Wells said.

The ACLU says it’s been working with the MTA on this very issue for five years, with no satisfactory result.

Fussell was detained for more than 40 minutes before MTA Police finally let him go on his way.

Comments (348)
  1. Damon Emanuel Hicks says:

    although I understand about peoples freedoms had this man be part of a plot to do harm, everyone would be calling for the police heads for allowing them to take then, the nations defence and security is not some toy you can take out when you feel like, and but away when you want no bother, you either want protection or you don’t make up your minds, this isn’t the comic books folks cops and soldiers don’t have super hearing or any other super powers, they can’t just come out in the nick of time an divert a crime, they have to be there day in day out, an rather you care to admit it or not taking a picture of a rail station these days is gonna get you question, if your a train hobbist let someone know then snap away, how hard would that be.

    1. Brenda Cole says:

      ANOTHER SHEEP TO THE POLICE STATE SLAUGHTER. Snapping photos isn’t threatening. You can find detailed plans and photos of things easily online. Get real people. If you are a tourist, let someone know? “You done fell and bumped you head Damon.”

  2. jEFF says:

    This is not America anymore it is metromerica we have enough problems with all outsiders coming here and taking over everything we have and getting loans and grants and opening stores and resturaunts while we have to go through a bunch of red tape and also they don’t have to pay taxes for seven years while we have to pay every year. Our government is letting this happen i say send all outsiders back where the hell they come from .

  3. Brenda Cole says:

    snapping photos is a crime now? Then post a flippin sign. What serious high tech threat could have been in the making while the “security” was focused on a tourist with a camera. And I must address the ignorance again about Muslim. Being a Muslim does not make you a terrorist. You have been mislead. The terrorists are extremists. They come in every Religion. Protestant vs Catholics in Ireland. They come in every color. Black Panthers vs KKK, they come in the shape of women and men. Terrorists are extremists. STOP DRINKING THE US MEDIA PROPAGANDA KOOL AID.! Do some research, use your common sense. I know our education system has failed many of you, our media corporations have brainwashed you. Our low quality food resources have malnourished you. You can overcome these things, but first you have to recognize the problem. Like every addiction, the propaganda addict must WANT to be weaned from his misplaced Paranoia, Your government is suspect #1, when it comes to who you should be keeping an eye on and worrying about changing your way of life and threatening your illusions of freedom. YOU ARE NOT FREE.

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