White Plains court house

As a freelance photographer, Ben Hider carries his camera with him just about everywhere, and so it was on Friday, as he was heading to the train station in White Plains he stopped to snap some beauty shots on the flags in front of the court house. That’s when his trouble began.

Ben Hider, Photographer: “Three police officers ran at me, immediately, telling me to stop where I was.”

And that’s exactly what Ben Hider did. He even showed the court officers the pictures he took and offered to delete them. Moments later they escorted him inside the courthouse for two hours of questioning.

Ben Hider, Photographer: “Emptied my pockets, searched me, frisked me, started telling me about the recent terrorist threats in America over the past five years and ‘haven’t I been watching the news?'”

The 27-year-old is a graduate of SUNY Purchase. He’s lived in the states for eight years and he has a green card, but he says his British citizenship only raised the officers’ suspicion.

David Bookstaver, Office of Court Administration: “Yes, they went too far. Picture taking in itself is not suspicious behavior, detaining someone for two hours for taking pictures was wrong and we’ve apologized to Mr. Hider for what happened.”

The New York State Supreme Court Officers Association strongly disagrees with that assessment and instead blames the office of court administration.

John McKillop, the union president, told us: “There is no policy anywhere in the unified court system, in New York City or Westchester, dealing with this and officers are left to fend for themselves.”

The court officers union president explained to us that in a previous and similar situation, the court officers were berated by an administrative judge for not detaining an individual.

That’s why they want a policy explanation and that’s why today a memo was issued offering very clear specifics on what to do with people taking pictures in public places.

I would like to read the memo.


One Response to “White Plains court house”

  1. NY local court directory Says:

    You have to love all this court security. I used to work for a judge in Fulton County, and think this security stuff is nonsense. Osama is not looking for the Fulton County Courthouse, the White Plains Courthouse, or any other courthouse. That’s not their criteria. Their targets are big and well-known. It’s the ego of certain judges and the Office of Court Administration that creates this mess, but it’s not limited to courts. The state legislature has the same security now, as if anyone cares.

    Few of the town and village courts in Westchester County bother with significant security because at the local level it’s a little harder to waste the people’s money.

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