Port Security: “I Don’t Care About the Law”

The NPRO weekend rally started off Saturday evening in the Port of Long Beach – not only an amazing landscape for photos, but a place known to regularly trample on photographers’ civil rights. So we were shooting for about five minutes when a security guard drove up and immediately yelled out, “You can’t take pictures of the refinery!” When pressed why not, she was clearly stumped. There was some back and forth. Eventually she said, “I don’t care about the law…I care about me doing my job working for that refinery.”

After an exasperated “Fine, whatever,” she left and apparently called Harbor Patrol. Four units arrived on the scene, saying they’d been told there was a physical altercation. You can watch the video; how is that defined as a physical altercation? (More on the Harbor Patrol encounter to be posted later.)

Now, truth be told, this security guard tried very hard to ultimately keep it civil – and she’s just doing her job, granted – but this video is a perfect example of how woefully untrained security personnel are. Instead of having any laws, or even company policy, to bolster her argument, she’s just regurgitating a very vague rule handed down by higher-ups.

Doesn’t the refinery owe it to their employees to give them more training? What if there were actual terrorists out there? You can’t tell me they’re legitimately worried about terrorism if this is how they’re protecting themselves.

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13 Responses to “Port Security: “I Don’t Care About the Law””


  1. 1 Mike June 8, 2009 at 10:36 pm

    Hmmm… if she falsely told the Harbor Patrol that there “was a physical altercation” (in effect, of course, that some or all of you attacked her), I’d like to think that both she and her employer the refinery could and would be prosecuted for something like making a false claim and wasting police resources.

  2. 2 Shaun June 9, 2009 at 12:18 pm

    It’s times like these when it seems worth it to learn sign language and just pretend like you can’t understand/hear the rent-a-pig.

  3. 3 Shaun June 9, 2009 at 12:20 pm

    BTW, you should have let her know you are a professional photographer and you have a job to do as well.

  4. 4 Jeebus June 9, 2009 at 6:59 pm

    that made me laugh.
    collect enough of those and you might have a documentary on your hands.
    about how corporations are going the private security route to re-write the laws and no one seems to bat an eyelash over it.
    in fact, that theme runs a little deeper when you consider it’s exactly the tactic that the gov’t employed in Iraq – hiring private security firms to circumvent international law. and again, no one batted an eyelash… except for the civilians who were shot up at checkpoints.

  5. 5 Allen Rockwell December 20, 2009 at 8:41 pm

    I actually feel sorry for that woman … she seems like a very nice person just trying to do her job. The guilty party is the security company and/or the refinery for not properly training her and not educating her about the law and rights of the public. They (the refinery) made her look like an ass while she was just trying to do what she though was her job.
    One point I don’t think anyone has brought up is that these photographers appear to be on a public street, probably a long distance from where the refinery’s property line is … I’m sure she is well outside her jurisdiction and has as much authority as I do on a public street.

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