Watch what happens when Tim Hallman of CoudyNews.com arrives to take video of a house fire in Coudersport, Pennsylvania on July 22. According to Hallman, the woman putting his hands on him and directing Hallman far away from the fire scene (behind the public and other news people, according to Hallman) is a member of a local EMS crew.
So what is the justification for actions like this by a first responder? Can you make a case that this is an issue of safety or interfering with the work of public safety at the scene of an emergency? Reading the comments at CoudyNews.com there are some trying to claim that.
How many of you really believe that and see evidence of that in the video?
This is a situation I dealt with numerous times in my career where someone in police, fire or EMS just couldn't deal with cameras on the scene. This isn't that much different than the recent Suffolk County, New York video where the cop chased a videographer to an area behind the public and then arrested him (the police commissioner requested that the charges be dropped).
Handling the news media and even the public this way is not good policy for any public safety agency. The legality is questionable (I am not a lawyer and leave that to an expert like Curt Varone) and the image you present to the public is a pretty poor one (though it will make some press bashers happy).
You need to make sure that your department has consistent policies and procedures for dealing with cameras and providing safety at the scene for the press and public that recognize the rights we are provided in this country. When those decisions are left to the whim and bias of individual first responders we all lose.
Also on STATter911 …
- Is it ethical for firefighters & police officers to accept freebies? The Bel Air FD Facebook incident has reporters checking policies regionwide. Some tips from Dave. – June 19, 2012
- Check this out: Scene safety or censorship? You be the judge as Miami-Dade firefighters confront videographer. – March 22, 2013
- Firehouse websites banned under new Baltimore social media policy. Critics also concerned about free speech issues. – November 2, 2012
- Now the rest of the story: Articles make clear Hillsdale, NJ firehouse bar policy. Councilman who quit claims he observed drinking at fire department meetings. – May 10, 2012
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