Cop Encounters Can Give Me the Creeps …

… It’s the Gun-Thing.

An email to my Advanced Reporting class after a tour at State Supreme Court Civil Division, 60 Centre Street, Tuesday, March 30 — The Deputy Clerk of the Court for years has been introducing my advanced classes to use of the court’s public records. The tours, depending on circumstances, last from 30-45 minutes and many students have benefitted from the tour: Some have been acknowledge for very good work in their internship positions because of their knowledge, others have come across really good stories. The end result, I like to believe, is that they understand the importance of supplementing their reporting skills with research techniques and knowledge, like how to use public records.

I recall how one student, good but not one of the best and not especially interested in journalism, lit up like a firecracker when he learned that he could do background research on Hunter. He used information from a civil suit to confront a former Hunter President about asbestos in the College’s dorms on the lower east side. This happened several years ago. There was no asbestos – the College had done an investigation, according to records – but his confronting the President made for a good story in an Hunter student news publication at at time that students were concerned about what they breathing.



I’m writing this because I might have pushed everyone’s P-Button at 60 Centre Street, Tuesday, March 29 [sic], and want to make a clarification about a comment I made after the tour ended at Manhattan State Supreme Court Civil Branch. I said the group had been shadowed by an armed security guard … 

… and I am pretty certain that I expressed annoyance [after the students and I exited the courthouse – one student, hearing my comment, described the episode as a “profiling” incident]. And since he was carrying a gun I was planning to do something about it in the form of a polite letter or note to court officials.

Now I realize the officer wearing the dark blue uniform was shadowing not the group but me and it wasn’t any kind of profiling (I think). I’m pretty sure I’m right about this: He thought I was trying to do some surreptitious taping inside the courthouse because of what I considered [now]  innocuous comments I had made to two other guards about the audio digital recorder in my bag being capable of professional sound quality. They probably thought I was trying to do some surreptitious recording. I had forgotten to remove the device from my bag before I left my apartment.

I’m pretty sure that was it. I’ve been bringing students to court for tours by  Deputy Clerk Jim Rosetti for many years so I know that he didn’t ask for the extra surveillance. So, that’s it.

But I’m still going to write something. That guy and I kept making eye contact at three different points during the tour, each eye contact stronger as he would appear and then vanish only to re-appear. At the last contact, as the tour was about to wrap up, I was planning to ask him what was on his mind but he never re-appeared.

The Deputy Clerk said that Law and Order would be filming inside there sometime next week. 




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