|Don't Take Pictures Of Federal Buildings?|
It Could Lead To Confiscation Of Your Camera
By Dave Peyton
Did you know it's illegal to take a picture of a federal building?
Well, neither did I.
In fact, unless someone can show me a federal law that says I cannot photograph a federal building, I'm going to have to disagree with West Virginia State Police Cpl. Doug Starcher of Calhoun County, who not only told my friend Bob Weaver that it's illegal to take a picture of a federal building, but confiscated Weaver's camera.
It happened Wednesday.
Weaver is the publisher of and principal reporter for the Hur Herald, the online voice of Calhoun County at herherald.com.
It all began with a bomb threat at the U.S. Army Reserve Armory at Big Bend, west of Grantsville.
The ubiquitous Weaver appeared on the scene to report on the bomb scare. Standing on a public right-of-way, he started shooting pictures. According to a story in the Hur Herald:
"While photographing the bomb scare activity from a public right-of-way, Cpl. Doug Starcher of the WV State Police advised Editor Bob Weaver that federal buildings cannot be photographed.
"When Weaver photographed Starcher and other personnel at the highway entrance to the armory, Starcher wrestled the camera from Weaver and confiscated it."
This isn't the first time Weaver has had a run-in-with Starcher. Several months ago, Starcher arrested Weaver while Weaver took pictures of a fatal accident.
The state policeman arrested Weaver for some vague charge that may have included taking a picture of a dead accident victim or for interfering with an accident investigation.
(Starcher, in an arrest warrant, claimed Weaver was photographing a nude dead woman's breasts, proven to be a false claim)
A Calhoun magistrate dismissed the charges.
Most state troopers I have met have been thoroughly professional, and most were extremely helpful when I was a reporter covering crimes and accidents where they were in charge.
But all troopers need to be made aware of the fact that anyone with a camera can take a picture of anything as long as the photographer is on a public right-of-way and as long as he or she is not interfering with a police investigation.
The Hur Herald said the online newspaper "after seeking legal counsel, is asking law enforcement to file charges against Cpl. Starcher."