CITY OF ULSTER, NY – Ulster County Resource Recovery Agency board members adopted a code of conduct on Thursday that prohibits visitors from taking “illegal” photos or videos on agency property .
However, Ulster County District Attorney David Clegg said on Friday that the ban on videotaping in a public place appeared to have no legal basis.
“It doesn’t make sense to me that you can prevent people who are legally present in any location from taking video,” he said.
Agency officials at the board meeting said the rules were necessary to protect staff and property from reckless drivers.
“Once you enter this facility, you are not supposed to use a cell phone,” said operations manager Charles Whittaker.
“We have people coming out of our building hitting…blocks,” he said. “It’s a very busy place. We do 13 vehicles every 15 minutes.
Ulster City Police Chief Kyle Berardi also had doubts about enforcing a policy that would require someone to stop videotaping if they were mere sightings during the normal course of a person’s visit to the agency.
“It’s a public facility, it’s not privately owned, so I don’t think there’s anything there that would constitute a criminal charge,” he said.
The resolution states that the actions covered by the policy cover “illegal cell phones or recording devices/images”, but does not provide details of the laws that would be used as the basis for determining compliance.
Clegg said the agency should explain “any authority it claims to have” over the personal video recording if visitors are “legally present at the location.”
“We also have a cell phone policy,” Whittaker said. “So you’re not supposed to use a cellphone or any other type of recording device with your cellphone. So they sort of work hand in hand.
Officials included a separate provision that prohibits “the use of unauthorized cell phones, walkmans, and other audio equipment while operating any vehicle or equipment at the facility.”
The rules “would apply to all non-ARCURA members” who are on agency property.
“ARCU employees must report all violations of these rules and procedures by the vehicle driver(s), helper, passenger, occupant, visitor, contractor to a supervisor” , the officials wrote.
Officials wrote that the policy was developed to keep the facility running in a safe manner.
“The agency shall provide an atmosphere free from harassment, intimidation or any abuse, whether physical, political, psychological or sexual at all times,” they wrote.
“The agency must maintain a level of security and integrity, free from political intimidation and any other threats that would allow our facilities to provide … the safe removal (of) municipal solid waste, construction debris and recycling post-consumer materials every time.”
Other provisions of the policy prohibit smoking; To stroll; harassment or threatening behavior; obscene or abusive language; destruction of property; poisoning; public urination; and bribing staff with sandwiches, coffee, cash or tickets.