I was standing on a sidewalk on Miracle Mile Thursday night carrying my Canon 5D with a 50 mm f/1.8 lens, a combination that works excellent in low light situations.
The officer was across the street standing on one of those motor scooters that police have nowadays that enable them to walk their beat without actually walking their beat.
As the officer was zipping across the street on the scooter, I took a few shots as I think it is hilarious that police have resorted to a child’s toy for law enforcement efficiency.
“Do you have a permit to take photos?” he asked as he reached the sidewalk I was standing on.
“I don’t need a permit to take photos,” I responded, thinking this guy is either messing with my mind or extremely ignorant.
“Are you sure about that?””
“100 percent sure?”
“150 percent sure.”
He proceeds to tell me that there is a city ordinance that prohibits photography in public without a permit. This being Coral Gables, one of the most permit-heavy municipalities in Miami-Dade County, I can see where maybe someone might believe that to be the case.
“Last time I checked, the First Amendment overrides all city ordinances,” I tell him.
The officer is looking very serious. Not angry or exasperated the way some officers get when you don’t treat their words as gospel. For a second, I thought I saw a hint of a smile, but I wasn’t sure.
“Are you fucking with me?” I ask.
“No, I’m serious, you need a permit. It is a city ordinance.”
“Please tell me which city ordinance I am violating?”
“I don’t remember right now.”
Then he busts out laughing. And I take his photo. And he admits he was only kidding.
“I just like to talk to people,” he says.
Officer Rios turned out to be a really cool guy. We spent a few minutes talking about photography, police work and traveling before a South Florida rain shower sent us running (or scooting) for shelter.
He spent seven years working for NYPD before moving to Miami and becoming a Coral Gables officer less than three years ago. I’ve had good experiences with NYPD and have known them to have a good sense of humor, something that most Miami cops lack.
A permit to take photographs in Coral Gables. Fucking hilarious.184