NY State corrections officer threatens news crew, protects film company shooting crime film

Lt. Dorn, a NY State corrections officer working at Mount McGregor prison in Wilton, NY, threatened to arrest a local news team reporting about a nearby historic site and called in the state police to confiscate the news team’s video.

The story quickly turned from being about the story the news crew was working on–the effect the imminent closing of the prison would have on the nearby Grant Cottage, a historic site open to the public–to being about Lt. Dorn and his efforts to hide the fact that a private entertainment company was filming a movie on prison property.

Among the informational nuggets Lt. Dorn gives the News Channel 13 reporter, Mark Mulholland, is that he can confiscate any film shot by tourists at the Grant site if the prison appears anywhere in the background. However, anyone can shoot a prison flick on the actual grounds of the prison if they pay the state permit fees. And as a bonus they will threaten pesky paparazzi with arrest.

Making it more difficult to square Lt. Dorn’s purported authority to confiscate images wherein the prison appears, is the easy to verify fact that there are many images of the prison available online, including this one from Google maps:

mt mcgregor correctional facility

And if you want a hi-res image of the prison from the area where the NewsChannel 13 was shooting, anyone can buy this shot by photojournalist John Carl D’Annibale of the Times Union:

times union image of prisonAnd any assertion that the prison guard made about confiscating film shot at Grant Cottage, if it contains images of the prison, is belied by this CBS news report shot at Grant Cottage that has several clips of the prison. This was no hidden camera project. It was shot in the open and celebrated on the Grant Cottage website

In a statement defending the State’s threats and efforts to confiscate NewsChannel 13’s video, and the humorously juvenile attempt to block the crew’s return to Grant’s Cottage, the corrections department cited security issues but did not explain what risk the news crew posed in filming, from an offsite access road, a prison that was EMPTY and due to close in a matter of days, and did not mention, not even in passing, the film crew shooting a movie in the actual prison itself.

We regret that this situation escalated, however the WNYT news crew blatantly disregarded a state officer who informed them they were trespassing. Department regulations state that photographs taken while on Prison property require prior permission. This policy is for the safety of all staff, visitors and prisoners. [Emphasis added.]

It’s worth noting that the statement’s characterization (in italics) of how the news crew behaved when told they were trespassing is contradicted by the video. The crew was exceedingly polite and at all times professional. It’s a stunningly inaccurate statement.

This is a very real turn into Noir 101, where a news crew comes to learn that its First Amendments right to report the news gets trumped by a man in uniform armed with nothing but a loud bark, and the State tells a troubling lie about it.

More importantly, from our focus on all things noir, is that the right of a movie crew creating a work of fiction has trumped the right of a news crew reporting facts.

Video of the Day: Baltimore cop beats up teen but teen gets last laugh

Baltimore police officer Salvatore Rivieri explains to a teen skater that a “dude” is someone who works on a ranch. In his comments, he refers to the teen’s friends, who unlike the teen, have “brains in their heads.” He knows this because they are not calling him “dude.” In fact, they do have brains but not because they were intimidated into not calling him “dude.” They have brains because they were quietly videotaping the officer’s rant — so they could use it do to this:

And this did not help Officer Rivieri’s cause:

And of course, you knew this was coming:

Rivieri was granted a motion for summary judgment to dismiss the boy’s civil rights case in September 2009. But he lost his appeal over his firing in February 2011.

He is very fortunate that he beat the child in the U.S., where police are given deference by the courts and by the general public. Had he done it in, say, Pakistan, the response might have been very different:

However, social media has a way of punishing police officers who abuse children when the courts will not. We have seen some of it above with the sharing of damning videos on Youtube. But the public shaming continues on Facebook where fake accounts have been created here and here so anyone looking him up there will learn or be reminded of how he had conducted himself as a police officer.