Editors Note:


EDITOR'S NOTE: Fresh off a three year managerial stint, your friendly neighborhood lenslinger is back on the street and under heavy deadline. As the numbing effects of his self-imposed containment wear off, vexing reflections and pithy epistles are sure to follow...

Friday, April 07, 2006

The Pissy and the Bellicose

Meet the TV news photog's natural enemy: the shopping mall security guard. Though usually found shooing Goth kids out of the food court, this breed of law enforcement flunkie becomes especially agitated in the presence of zoom lenses. Take Smokey the Bear here. He and his uniformed goons are currently starring in a most entertaining web video, in which they wrongfully harangue a Providence Rhode Island TV news crew who are simply trying to do their job. Not only do these particular rent-a-dicks repeatedly order the camera crew off public property, they make the spectacularly bad decision to threaten the crew in question with physical harm and even death! All this, because they didn't want to see one of their security vehicles dangling off a parking deck ledge on the six o clock news. don't these guys have a Baby Gap to stake out or something?

Though this case is a bit extreme, getting hassled by a rental authority is a familiar occurence to anyone who chases scanner traffic for very long. The phenomenon us especially pronounced at shopping malls, where a passing flash of a logo'd lens can draw a half dozen thugs in matching polyester. For all their attempts at an authoritative vibe, these cats rarely know the law. To them, every walkway within five square miles of their employer's property is off limits to the Fourth Estate - unless of course there's an Easter Egg Hunt or other promotional event going on inside. Then, we lens-pushers are welcomed into Center Court with open arms and free flyers. Otherwise, it's all harsh words, puffed up chests and rude walkie-talkie gestures.

It's one of the reasons I grew so tired of spot news. I just have no desire to debate Freedom of the Press with someone sporting a mail-order badge and a few Skittles in their pockets. I'd just as soon argue Right of Way laws with volunteer firefighters in oversized turn-out gear. Both, make me late for lunch. But sometimes you just can't avoid an encounter with these cop-wannabes. All you can do is keep rolling, know your rights and understand that very often, the smaller the jurisdiction, the bigger the Napolean complex. Problem is many field crews know little of property laws. Worse yet, the stations that send them to the edge of calamity rarely back them up when things go stupid. And when you mix testosterone, television cameras and trumped-up hall-monitors, stupidity is virtually assured. So if you're a photog, educate yourself as to where you can and cannot be officially unwelcomed. And if you're the hiring guy at a fancy schmancy shopping mall, be sure to brief your security goobs on who not to harrass. You may also want to tell them those big shiny things the TV guys carry on their shoulders actually records things as they happen and can be replayed on-air and on-line over and over again. Seems they missed that memo as well...

5 comments:

Beth Marion said...

Whats really funny is when they try to pull you over with their K-mart red strobe light, and then keep driving. I've had one follow me 3 or 4 miles screaming out their window, while I simply ignored them.

Billy Jones said...

Years ago when I was driving a tow truck for a living, the security guards at a local mall refused to let me tow the car to the dealership for repairs.

Turned out it was their bosses' car and he was really PO'd that it didn't make it to the garage that day.

On another occasion I simply put the truck in gear and pushed the rent a cops down the street with my customer's car in tow.

What was ironic was the fact that at the time the towing company I worked for was across the street from the mall and handled towing FOR the mall And the security company.

Geoffcam said...

I loved to tell them "hey, if I were here to do a negative story on you guys, I'd have a hidden camera. Not the big one on my shoulder. So when you see me without the big camera - worry!" (not that I ever shot with an under cover hidden camera, but I just loved to watch their perplexed responses)

Lex said...

It ain't just the malls. One of the reasons I stopped going to arena shows, despite my love for some fairly major touring acts, was that the rent-a-cops were getting entirely too overbearing. The most extreme case I can think of was one where a guard assaulted my sister at Walnut Creek Pavilion -- where she was working on the lighting crew at the time, hello? -- but I've got a ton of stories.

Anonymous said...

I hate to admit it, but I was a rentacop for many years. Not because I'm a cop wannabe, only because it was the job that came up when I needed a job. In fact, over the years, I developed a strong dislike for cops. Whenever I had to call them for an incident, they often harrassed me more than the suspect I had called them about. I was always courteous to them and thanked them for their time, but I was rarely given any respect as a private citizen or human being. And I was ALWAYS aware that I was simply a private citizen. My point is that often, the rules aren't clearly spelled out to security guards as to exactly what their function is. The common sense duty of all security guards is simply to observe and report. But, they often end up being faced with all kinds of situations that there is no clear cut response to and they end up making an irrational decision. There wasn't much that got me excited and I remained cool and collective even when I had a Glock pointed at me. I ended up quitting my job because of the revolving door of butt-kissing cop wannabes that would come and go. All I wanted to do was my 8 hours and go home. Someone should delve more into the strange world of these cop wannabes, or as I heard them described on Rockford Files once, "police enthusiasts". They are a sub-culture all their own.