Follow-Up: MTA Police To Clarify Subway Photography "Ban"
In an update on a story we first told you about last month, NY1 has learned the MTA has agreed to change its policy on photography and videotaping, after critics accused the agency of unlawfully blocking the practice. NY1’s Bobby Cuza filed this exclusive report.
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Three weeks ago, NY1 told you about the MTA's habit of prohibiting people from taking pictures or video
, particularly in commuter rail stations like Penn Station or Grand Central, which fall under the jurisdiction of the MTA Police, not the NYPD.
It's a common experience for people like Bob Andersen, a train buff and webmaster of the Long Island Rail Road History website.
“Several times I've been stopped - a couple of times at Jamaica station and once at Woodside station - where either a cop or a Long Island Rail Road personnel person said that you can't take pictures," says Andersen.
You may remember the MTA at one point tried to ban unauthorized photography, specifically in the subways. That was back in 2004. But the backlash was so great, the proposal was dropped.
That means photography and videotaping are perfectly legal anywhere in the system. So, say critics, it's the MTA that's been acting unlawfully. After the New York Civil Liberties Union threatened to sue, with Andersen and others as plaintiffs, the MTA agreed to let up.
In a letter to the NYCLU this week, the agency said its police chief "will immediately be reminding his command staff that there is no photography ban...and will be asking commanders to instruct their officers accordingly."
“We told them in the letter we sent them last week we were prepared to file a lawsuit. We had plaintiff, and there's no question in our minds that the MTA's actions were unlawful,” says the NYCLU’s Chris Dunn. “But happily that's become unnecessary. They've recognized the problem, and they've committed to take steps to fix the problem."
But that apparently hasn't happened altogether yet. While shooting video in Penn Station Thursday, this reporter was confronted by MTA police and briefly detained.
So some officers are still essentially enforcing a rule that doesn't exist. Now, the agency says, that's going to change, so straphangers, click away.
- Bobby Cuza