It started off with a federal protective service officer pulling up to Jeff Gray in a patrol car for taking pictures from a public sidewalk outside the Moody Air Force Base in Georgia Monday.
Gray told the officer that he was photographing the railroad. But the cop had his doubts and accused him of photographing the entrance to the base – as if it would make any difference within the scopes of the law – and decided to call the local sheriff for backup.
When Gray tried to walk away, the cop informed he was being detained.
When Gray asked for his name and badge number, the cop informed Gray he was free to leave.
But naturally, it couldn’t end there.
Within minutes, a Lowndes County sheriff’s SUV pulled up and out stepped a burly deputy.
Staff Sgt. Robert Guthrie extended his hand, introducing himself by name, asking for his side of the story.
Gray explained he was only taking pictures of airplanes, adding “they don’t like it very much.”
And then the sergeant took us all by surprise:
“They need to go back and read the Constitution,” I believe,” the sergeant responded.
“I’m not angry at you, I’m not upset at you, and you’re not doing anything illegal as far as I’m concerned,” he said
“They get a little excited, but as I said, you’re in a public access area.”
So what gives? Is Guthrie a renegade within his own department? He obviously doesn’t toe the blue line of bullshit.
It appears as if Guthrie is putting into practice what the department preaches on its website, perhaps a sign of good leadership from Sheriff Chris Prine:
The primary purpose of the Lowndes County Sheriff’s Office is to maintain social order within prescribed ethical and constitutional limits, while providing professional and courteous law enforcement services. Our fundamental duties are to serve humanity; to safeguard the lives and properties of our citizens; to protect the innocent against deception, the weak against oppression or intimidation and the peaceful against violence; and to respect the constitutional right of all persons to liberty, equality, and justice. To attain this, the Lowndes County Sheriff’s Office enforces the law in a fair and impartial manner, recognizing both the statutory and judicial limits of our authority and the constitutional rights of all persons.
The Lowndes County Sheriff’s Office recognizes that no law enforcement agency can operate at its maximum potential without the support of the citizens that we serve. The Lowndes County Sheriff’s Office actively solicits and encourages the cooperation of all citizens to reduce and limit the opportunities for crime and to use the resources available to accomplish this goal.
UPDATE: Lt. Guthrie passed away of heart disease in 2016. PINAC sent flowers to his funeral.