Today I was detained by the police for taking a photograph. Story follows:
"Are you taking photos of inside my house," I heard someone yell shortly after I had taken a photo of a yipping dog.
"Sort of," I say, and explain that I’ve been doing a dumb photo project, taking pictures of dogs standing in windows. It isn’t the first time someone asked me what I was doing. Usually people laugh and ask if they can see the photos anywhere. Sometimes people give me the skeptical look I am sure all liberal arts students, past or present, are familiar with. This was the first time anyone got actually upset.
"I do not give you consent to take these photographs. This is trespassing." She says. I offer to delete the photographs. "Yes, delete," she says. "My husband is a police officer and I will be letting the police know that you’ve been taking these photographs." I apologize again and go on my way.
I guess she called the police immediately, because a police van pulls up beside me within minutes. The police officer rolls down the window and asks me if I’ve been taking photographs. I explain my project again. He laughs. He says that’s exactly what his blotter said, someone had been taking photos of dogs through windows. “This is America,” he said, “you can take photographs of you want. I don’t know what’s going on with her.” We both thank each other for understanding and I leave feeling better than I ever have about the Chicago Police Department.
Soon, I encounter another officer. This time it is a Cook County Sheriff. He immediately asks me to tie up the dog I was walking (Scooter — God bless your patience) and has me put my hands on the rear of his vehicle. He soon informs me that I am being detained. I didn’t think to ask why, which is apparently a thing you’re supposed to do because being detained means that I was under suspicion of being about to commit/in the act of committing a crime and they have to tell you what crime that was. Still not sure what I was being detained for.
Soon he asks me to sit in the vehicle while we waited for the Chicago Police to show up. After about 15 minutes they do, and the sheriff asks me to step out again. There were now three officers in all. They ask to see the photos, and, although they didn’t have a warrant, I consent. “Dogs,” one of them murmurs as I scroll through the photos. They seem to loosen up a little bit. “Why are you taking photos of dogs in windows?” one asked. “I don’t know, I guess I think it’s kind of funny,” I reply. I thought it would be better to hold off on the homestuck dogs as metaphor for isolation and paranoia in urban environments spiel. They take my info and scold me for having a Connecticut drivers license. They issue no arrest warrant or summons, but they say they “might need to follow up.” I say OK and return Scooter to his home, where he got fresh H20 and a treat, like he does every day. He’s such a good pup!!
Framed Dog I