We reported in October of last year that a lawsuit by the New York Civil Liberties Union against the US Government ended with a settlement upholding the right to photograph and film in public spaces outside government buildings. The US Department of Homeland Security also agreed to notify its officers and employees in writing of the “public’s general right to photograph the exterior of federal courthouses from publicly accessible spaces”
Now, a redacted version of the directive sent out last year has been made public.
Some key excerpts from the three page document:
absent reasonable suspicion or probable cause, law enforcement and security personnel and [sic] must allow individuals to photograph the exterior of federally owned or leased facilities from publicly accessible spaces.
It is important that law enforcement and PSOs uphold the public’s general right to photograph the exterior of federal structures while being vigilant with respect to suspicious indicators of terrorist or criminal activity.
[...] officers should not seize the camera or its contents, and must be cautious not to give such ‘orders’ to a photographer to erase the contents of a camera, as this constitutes a seizure or detention.
Christopher Dunn, the associate legal director of the N.Y.C.L.U., writes,
Given the many reports of harassment, we encourage photographers to carry this directive with them, particularly if they intend to take pictures where they’ve had problems in the past,
There you have it — another handy little document you can keep in your camera bag (maybe along with our Photographers’ Rights Gray Card) to defend yourself with if ever confronted for legitimate photography.