LA Port Police Bust Leisurely Sail


Photo by Bryan Villarin

Whether on land or at sea, LA photographer Bryan Villarin has a knack for arousing suspicion. We posted about his encounter with private building security in downtown LA last July.

And this past weekend he was sailing the waters of Los Angeles Harbor off San Pedro with some friends when they were stopped by Port Police. As Bryan posts on his blog, they were told there were reports about their speed, which he says was about five knots. In addition, they said they had video of the group taking photographs.

Soon there were two Port Police boats surrounding them. The sailors were pulled over, detained, given background checks and questioned about their ethnic origins and professions. The police insisted Bryan’s friend Danita hand over her social security number, which she did. They were told the stop constituted a warning, and now they were in the database as a non-threat.

Bryan asks some good questions in his post, namely:

  • Our information is in their office on some slip of paper and/or their computer system. Danita was asked to give her Social Security number, but that was wrong. What would’ve happened if she refused to give them that information?
  • Being in a public area, weren’t we free to photograph as we please?
  • Would they stop a cruise ship if some of their passengers had DSLR cameras with super telephoto lenses?

The story is unbelievable and goes to show you the lengths law enforcement will go these days in “keeping our country safe.” So safe, in fact, that now it’s routine to overreact to what used to be normal, everyday activities. As is almost always the case in these situations, it boggles the mind that these officers thought this leisurely sailing trip around the harbor was some sort of terrorist reconnaissance mission.

Story via All Narfed Up

To see more photos from the sailing trip, including what Port Police deemed not a compromise to security, go here.

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