Saturday, July 25, 2009

DAY 18

Two interesting things happened today.

First, I almost got arrested. No, it is not the first time this has happened... but considering my sunny disposition toward police officers and sheriffs deputies, it is quite shocking to imagine that anyone would want to cart me away and lock me up.

Secondly, my reporter seriously told a deputy that he wasn't familiar with the term "dick". The comment followed a lengthy, and quite humorous conversation... that taken out of context is probably the funniest thing that I've heard in a while.

The real interesting thing... this all happened on Rampart Range Rd, while covering an accidental shooting death. Why are reporters talking with sheriffs deputies about dicks at a crime scene? Why are photogs being threatened with arrest? Well my friends, let me explain.

I get paid to shoot video. I do this by pointing my camera at the most interesting thing I can find, switching it on, and hitting record (with a few steps in between to ensure that it is focused and properly white balanced). So, when I show up at a crime scene, sectioned off by yellow police tape, I normally walk right up to the tape and plop myself in the most inviting spot.

Today, I did just that. When we arrived at the shooting range, sheriffs cars already lined the dirt pathway. The Memorial Star helicopter was parked in the general parking area, next to an ambulance and some more cop cars. At first I didn't even see the crime tape. As I climbed out of the truck however, I realized that the scene was down a slight embankment, and around the corner... blocked by a bush. Not to worry though, I could still see emergency personel standing in a huddle. I couldn't quite tell what they were working on, but I'll take what I can get.

I stand in one place shooting video for about five minutes. Finally I decide to take a few steps to my right, just to see what I can see. Almost immediately I heard a booming, not so pleasant voice, screaming at me. "GET BACK! GET AWAY FROM HERE!" Normally, I'm the first photog to argue with the police. My usual line goes something like this, "Officer I don't mean to be rude, I'm a little confused. I'm behind the crime tape, on public property. I'd be more then willing to back up, if you would like to extend your scene, but until you do so, I'm going to stay here."

Today however, I'm in no mood to argue. I know shocking... but today, I'm actually willing to back up. I move back to the spot I was in five minutes ago. Thinking that I've satisfied the deputy's wishes, I turn the camera back on COMMERCIAL CAMERA AND DESTROY IT. AND THEN I WILL TAKE YOU TO JAIL. IF YOU DON'T MOVE RIGHT NOW, YOU WILL BE ARRESTED!!" I glance behind my shoulder, thinking surely he must be talking to someone else. Afterall, I've already moved back... and nobody seemed to care when I was in this spot five minutes ago. Then it comes again. "I THOUGHT I TOLD YOU TO MOVE." This time he is moving towards me. That's when I realized he is serious, he is talking to me, and now is not the time to argue. Reluctantly I retreat back behind another sheriffs vehicle, where I can see absolutely nothing, and wait.

Now, I haven't been in this business very long. Afterall, I'm only 24. But, in the two years that I've been shooting news, there are a few rules that I've mastered. First and foremost, never cross police tape...ever. I got that. My question is, why do they put crime tape up, if they want you to stay three blocks behind it. I don't know if it is just the law enforcement in this town, or if it happens everywhere... all I know is that it is starting to get old. For some reason Joe Schmoe from down the street can walk right up to the crime tape, lift it up and continue walking down the sidewalk... but if I show up with a camera, I'm automatically interfering with their investigation and the safety of the public. I get my ass chewed for being there and sent a mile and a half away (most likely shooting directly into the sun). Does something seem a bit fishy to you? I don't like it. I swear... if law enforcement spent half the time do their job that they spend reprimanding me (for not breaking any law) this city would be the safest place in the world.

Depending on my mood, I argue, I comply, I pretend like I don't hear... but it happens either way, and I'll continue to deal with it until my time in news is over.

Moving on to my favorite comment of the week...the reason why news is a fun business to work in. After my verbal reaming, I shot enough video to last a week and a half and retreated back to the safety and comfort of the air conditioned car. Being out of cell service and therefore unable to text, I twiddle my thumbs for a while before I send my reporter to go make nice with the cops and see if we can get someone to talk. This is the conversation that follows...

Reporter: Hello there sir. Is a PIO on the way? Do you have any information about when someone will be available to talk to us?
Deputy: The PIO isnt coming. She lives too far away.Silence.
Reporter: Well, is there someone that could go on tape with a little bit of information?
Deputy: You can talk to one of the "dicks" when they get here.

Silence... more silence... now it's getting awkward.

Reporter: One of the dicks?
Deputy: Yeah, one of the dicks. They are on the way. They should be here shortly.

Reporter nodds. Shakes his head, and looks like there is something he wants to say. More awkward silence.

Reporter: I'm sorry sir. I'm not familiar with that term. Can you tell me what a dick is?

Now, there are many responses to this question. In the term that he is refering to, a dick is a detective. In everyday conversation, this question would merit some sort of snide remark about something sexual and completely out of line. I can think of a lot of things I would say in response... but I'll hold my tongue.

Today the response is simple.

Deputy: Detective.

(Now at this point in the reenactment of the story, I am on the ground of the car laughing hysterically. The deputy has walked away, and is also laughing and slyly pointing toward our vehicle.)

When the detectives arrive they are briefed on the situation, and of course told about the interesting converstaion that was exchanged only moments ago. Nothing is said when he finally comes over to chat, but we all know what he is thinking. At least he isn't being a dick about it :-)

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