Accident Scene Photog Could Be Charged

Brian Blackden photographs crime and fire scenes in and around Concord, NH working for the 1st Responder newspaper and web site and as a freelancer. He even travels in a van emblazoned with “1st Responder News” and wears safety gear. But yesterday, at a fatal traffic accident, he came upon some officers who didn’t appreciate him taking photos while in a fire coat and helmet. So a state trooper confiscated his camera and now they are considering charging him with impersonating an emergency responder.

“You apparently have a member of the general public dressing as a firefighter to gain entry into areas they normally wouldn’t have access to, for their financial benefit,” [State Police Lt. Scott] Sweet said.

Blackden … said he has never posed as a firefighter or EMT. His fire helmet, he noted, says “photographer.” Blackden said he is often allowed into the thick of fire scenes in the Concord area to get up-close shots, but he said his clothing has nothing to do with it. Rather, it’s because of “a good rapport and working relationship with the different departments,” he said.

Regarding his confiscated camera, police said they are holding onto it until they can determine what exactly went on at the scene — and they want to see if he took photos of the deceased victim.

This story stinks from every angle. Blackden might be a little eccentric, sure, but he had media credentials, and taking his camera amounts to an illegal search and seizure. Was there no crime scene tape? Could he not have been told to get back? And since when is it a crime to take photos of deceased accident victims? This did all happen in public. You can’t tweak and/or override the law because you’re irritated someone got too close.

Article from Concord Monitor

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3 Responses to “Accident Scene Photog Could Be Charged”


  1. 1 miguel August 27, 2010 at 9:10 am

    He sounds a little weird, and the police here might have a point. They can’t always figure things out on the spot. On the other hand, if we give them an inch they’ll take a foot. We have to protect our rights.

  2. 2 discarted August 27, 2010 at 11:24 am

    These cops are reaching and are clearly trying to save their asses because they know they messed up.

    Protecting the privacy of the victim/deceased?

    Sorry but that’s not a cop’s job, and privacy does not exist in public. More important, the Supreme Court has ruled the dead lose their right to privacy—especially when you’re dead and in public.

    Impersonating a First Responder?

    Wearing firefighter gear or even a police uniform in public is not against the law. Simply because you’re wearing the uniform does not mean the individual is impersonating an officer. During fire season in California, many news photographers wear the same gear that LAFD personnel are using. The photographers are not impersonating LAFD firefighters, but wearing the gear for protection. Which, is what Blackden is claiming.

    Confiscating the camera/personal property without an arrest or warrant?

    The cop’s actions are very questionable and it seems like a violation of the 4th Amendment occurred. If Blackden was committing a crime, why not arrest him at the scene? Why did the cops only steal his camera from him and not the gear/uniform he was wearing while he was allegedly impersonating an officer. Wouldn’t the uniform/gear be important to have in order to prove their case against Blackden?

    Well, the uniform was not confiscated because he wasn’t doing anything wrong and the cop confiscated Blackden’s equipment solely because of his personal objection to Blackden photographing the victim/deceased.

    This is an example of cop breaking the law and interjecting his own moral convictions while on the job, and like I said before, he is now reaching for anything to justify his illegal actions.

    And who the hell is Assistant Merrimac County Attorney Susan Venus telling Trooper Decker that he could seize Blackden’s camera if he could not verify who Blackden worked for? FYI, Ms. Decker, anybody can take picture of accidents that occur in public space! And you can’t confiscate people’s property without a warrant when they are not committing a crime. Which, Blackden wasn’t since he was not arrested and his uniform was not confiscated.

    Cop failed. There will be a lawsuit. But the cops won’t have to pay anything out of their own pockets. Just tax payers. Typical.


  1. 1 Houston Auto Accident Lawyers | auto accident lawyers Trackback on September 4, 2010 at 12:57 am

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