Miami-Dade Metrorail Update

A number of folks have requested updates to the July 1, 2010, post concerning my lifetime banishment from the Miami-Dade Metrorail.

I’m pleased to report that since I returned to Miami in early September I have been riding said metro unmolested. I have even made a few photographs while riding the metro, though not nearly as many as my friend Carlos Miller, who organized not one but two groups of camera toting defenders of the First Amendment to descend upon Miami’s Douglas Road station wielding enough cameras to make Kim Kardashian blush.

After both Mickey Osterreicher of the National Press Photographers’ Association and Stephen Murray of the Coconut Grove Village Council wrote letters on behalf of Carlos and I, Miami-Dade County Manager George M. Burgess responded in late September that Miami-Dade Transit (MDT) had met with the private security company contracted to patrol the metro and “stressed the right of the public to photograph in common areas of its public facilities. To that end, all contracted security officers have been retrained on the appropriate manner in which to enforce” the relevant Miami-Dade County ordinance 30b-5(2). Mr. Burgess further stated that a copy of the relevant ordinance had been placed “at all MDT Metrorail security kiosks.”

I have compiled the correspondence into the single, chronologically organized PDF above.

Though I consider this result a victory, I wonder why Miami-Dade County didn’t feel it necessary to retrain the police officers from the various jurisdictions who were also involved in the skirmish. I was more shocked by city/county officers’ ignorance of a law they’re paid to uphold than I was by the behavior of the officers’ rent-a-cop consorts. I suspect that had the real police officers been properly trained in the enforcement of 30b-5(2) the security guards would’ve saluted smartly and snapped, “Sir, yes, sir” once they’d been informed of the error of their ways. A working knowledge of the law by Miami-Dade law enforcement personnel sure would have saved everyone a lot of hassle, that’s for sure.

One final thought as I consider the hell Carlos and I went through because of the “terrorist threat” we posed with our cameras – Though “the powerful bombs recently concealed inside cargo packages and destined for the United States were expertly constructed and unusually sophisticated,” none of the devices involved cameras. Yet while they were constructed using a usually innocuous device that millions of passengers carry aboard the country’s mass transit systems millions of times a day, always without a second thought from any security guard – the lowly cell phone – I’m not holding my breath until an individual carrying a camera is considered less of a terrorist threat than an individual carrying a phone.

9 Responses to “Miami-Dade Metrorail Update”

  1. zeus thomas December 27, 2010 at 12:42 am #

    Thanks for stretching your neck out to fight back against the system, but it could have easily been choked by the poor souls working in the system. Education for most regarding constitutional principles and logical thought is at a minimum and I do not see any hope of this changing. People are at the mercy of the corrupt financial system at this point in time, which encourages everyone (especially congress) to try to come out on top by stepping on as many as possible. As you can see by the number of respondents to your blog, who cares?

  2. Gary O'Brien January 27, 2011 at 12:47 pm #


    Thanks for sticking your neck out. It’s a classic case of the hassle dance we often deal with. Your point about the sworn officers not informing the private security personnel of the law is indeed the most disturbing aspect of this matter.


  3. pinbalwyz September 7, 2011 at 6:05 am #

    Sadly, Pogo was right: “I have seen the enemy…and it is us!”
    The criminal element as a threat to society gets all the press. But in reality ignorant people and worse yet, poorly trained or willfully obtuse law enforcement personnel are the bigger threat.

    I care, so should you. If we don’t exercise our rights, we will lose them. The 1st Amendment is worth fighting for.

  4. Marco January 23, 2013 at 8:53 pm #

    Concerning the above written letters and current videos I have seen regarding photography in your rail stations. After having read the above letters I am confused about the contradictions I am seeing . The above incidents have been dated as far back as July 2010!

    Are you aware of a video on made at the same rail station or a station under the same system where people are being arrested (more like assaulted) for filming on a platform ? the video states clearly that it is “January 20 2013 Miami Dade Metrorail MLK weekend”.That was 4 days ago ! Here is the link .

    If this is true! Then there is something very very wrong and they have reverted to their previous pattern of behavior which is the opposite to what the above letters are stating and indicating. People should be allowed to freely take film or photos as stated in the above letters , after all didn’t they retrain people and place notices in security kiosk reminding them that it was ok?

    The above link demonstrates that security officers in the clip must be immediately and promptly terminated from their positions ,after reading all this ink above . It is just disrespectful and a real waste of time if you are having to write all these important and official letters saying that change has taken place , when it hasn’t, as clearly demonstrated in the above video .

    So then this means that no progress has been made , I am living in Australia and we have similar things here with rail security , but its not about photography! Yet there are incidents.Security is needed, but not at the expense of dragging public citizens screaming down elevators and handcuffing them. At what point can a security officer touch you physically? The man was clearly saying , “dont touch me” These are mature adults who can move away freely,the video shows they were going to move away yet they were grabbed at and restrained , they did not appear to me to be violent in anyway. The video ends looking like the other photographer was restrained also with handcuffs.

    I hope this letter echoes and affects those that can do something actually and factually.By making those abusing their powers to be pulled out and made to see the disturbing and abusive behavior of their employees.They should also check the backgrounds and psychological state of those wearing uniforms as part of their employment criteria.

    I look forward to seeing something being done,now.

    Marco .

  5. Marco January 23, 2013 at 8:55 pm #

    Here is the link I was referring to.

  6. Long time MIAMi Native May 14, 2013 at 5:20 am #

    Although I dont think the offciers used proper judgment in the Metro Rail incident. I have to say you guys dont know jack about the laws. I as a police offcier can detaine you and ask for your ID at any time as I am conducting a Investigation thats number one. Number 2 the US constatutuion was made to protect citizens who respected the Law and were not trying to make problems. If some one does not want me on there property or is being a ass to me why would I keep pushing them as you all do in this Video? You guys I support as far as being able to film or take pictures. how ever you guys desirve to be arrested detained and hurrased as you call it.

    Oh and who am I ? you ask? I am the soldier who lost his legs fighting to protect the freedom that you ABUSE!!!


  7. HOWARD December 10, 2013 at 6:42 am #

    those that post here know jack about LAW? is that what you said? have ever even read the U.S.CONSTITUTION? from you simple witted post, i would say the answer to that is, no. well, perhaps read it, but did not understand a word of it. BTW what city/municipality are you a LEO within, just asking. and of course, what type, if any, of background in LAW do you have? you been in traffic court a few times, or what?
    Is there a more current update to this BLOG?

  8. Maria May 13, 2015 at 2:16 pm #

    Although I am reading this way after it all happened, I am pretty aware of the lack of training of most police and security officers dealing with public and terrorism. Finally, we have cameras in the train and in the stations. But they don’t do the job all by themselves. We need a well trained personnel taking care of our safety, and I sadly have to say that we only have a few who really know what to do. Of course, the kind of diverse public that uses our system here is also different. Some people are really so distracted that I seriously wonder if they would survive in the Metro at cities like NY, SF or Chicago.
    I’m considering to write a blog about incidents during the commute in the rush hour. It is significant that they take it on photographers, but they do not act properly on other trolls and thugs that I’ve seen on my daily commute for seven years now. They abuse force and power with an old lady singing gospels in the train (Google this coverage if you are curious), but they take no action on a guy who becomes a real nuisance preaching in Spanish from the Okeechobee station up to Brickell (a long way, relatively speaking). Just the other day, I watched in awe someone all dressed up with long hair (could have been a wig) like a woman, covering the face with a magazine and sunglasses while coming down from a Southbound train on the rush hour and taking down the escalator. Nobody cared. Much more, I recently went to take advantage of the new Tri Rail facility to transfer to the Metro Rail. When I was boarding the train, the custodian was yelling at me as if I was taking the wrong train. I was probably expected to go Northbound to Broward?…Excuse me? I am a senior, but I still know where I’m going. And I am proudly Latina…

  9. Alex January 13, 2016 at 1:22 am #

    I know this is an old post but I’ve had repeat instances of over aggressive security and police while using the Metro system here in Miami. The first at the airport station while entering the metro I was carrying a tripod (not filming or setting up) and had no intention on even shooting in the metro just using it to get from point a to point b, long story short I was asked to leave and later detained until Miami Dade police came and told security I had done nothing wrong and to let me on the train. The next few times were while shooting timelapse from various metro mover platforms for personal use, each time I was told to leave and that tripods were not aloud(shooting was at night when there was little to no passengers around and was setup not blocking walkways). I’ve researched the statues and codes and have not been able to find anything that states that tripods are not aloud is there something that I have missed ?

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