Posted by Tom Mugnano on September 18, 2010 
Freeze Frame! This scene is crazy, bizarre, stupid and one of the funniest things I've seen in some time.
Posted by David Honan on September 18, 2010 
Glad that your back was feeling well enough for you to get out and capture some shots today, Steve, even though you had to cancel the open operating session at the PSMRE. Sorry I missed running into you when I was down that way photographing a thermite weld in Lakewood.
Posted by Mitch Goldman on September 18, 2010 
Love it! Leave it to you not to let a Darwin image be a simpe and generic shot. Not only did you get the dog on a train (finally), but even waited for the proper time to get the gal midstep, with her friend, and the officer all in the same frame!
Posted by Chase Gunnoe on September 18, 2010 
Nice journalism, Steve! Interesting story. Thanks for sharing this indeed, bizarre story.
Posted by Aaron Keller on September 18, 2010 
One wonders what the penalty might be for these alleged illegal riders ('alleged' because to our knowledge they have not yet been tried or convicted in a court of law). Steve, have you considered contacting a public information officer at the Tacoma Police Dep't. to ask for information concerning pending criminal charges?
Posted by Bob Pickering (BP) on September 19, 2010 
Good catch. More ways than one.
Posted by Donald Haskel on September 19, 2010 
I work as a security guard I get a kick out of these situations. I am just glad no one got hurt and the police were able to clear things up. Remember years ago when you could ride a train and stop and sleep for the night, maybe in a yard office, and get a meal the next day for a quarter. This is great story and a nice action picture.
Posted by Ray Peacock on September 19, 2010 
I swear I saw this same pair w/dog a couple years back at Rochelle, IL., getting off a train there, at the RR park. No, I'm not hallucinating. At least she has her ballast pounding shoes on..
Posted by Thomas on September 19, 2010 
Since it's not their first time doing this, or probably not the last time, maybe they should learn the proper way to get on and off the equipment.
Posted by Steve Carter on September 19, 2010 
The link in the remarks section will take you to a more in depth story of what took place. However, when I left the area, the guy and the dog had been allowed to leave and the girl was taken away in a patrol car. There seemed to be no obvious distress between the guy and girl about how things were unfolding.
Posted by Franklin Campbell on September 19, 2010 
I have met and hung out with modern day trainhoppers a few times. At one point their group included 9 people and 12 dogs. Generally when they are pulled off of a train they spend a few days in jail and are just given a tresspassing ticket. They are alot more common than one would think.
Posted by Al Crossley on September 19, 2010 
Oy. Nice photojournalism, Steve. Recommend the link to others who haven't gone there yet. The guy has a UP shirt on! What's UP with that? Yeah, glad they weren't hurt, but it seems only a matter of time.
Posted by Aaron C. Schlegel on September 19, 2010 
That looks like a good dog. I just hope that he's OK and has a good home.
Posted by jdayrail on September 19, 2010 
A similar incident occured here in central Texas a few months ago with a UP intermodal. The two guys were spotted by the crew as they poked their heads out of a trailing locomotive. The local police "escorted" them to the police office, then let them walk after checking for outstanding warrants. However, these guys were not quite as colorful as the "hobos" on the garbage train.
Posted by Ken Huard on September 19, 2010 
Well at least she's wearing boots! Can't say I've never been tempted to hitch a ride on a freight. Not a good idea in this day and age I guess.
Posted by John West on September 20, 2010 
Not much has changed. I was involved in a similar incident getting young folks off a freight train 40 years ago, including women but no dog. Even the clothes look the same. But I've also been called out to help pickup the body parts when they slip. Not a smart thing to do. But I've done a few dumb things myself. The lucky live, the not so lucky ones pay the price.
Posted by Charlie O on September 22, 2010 
All 50 states have their own criminal codes covering violations and procedures. In California, Section 587b of the Penal Code declares it a misdemeanor for unauthorized persons to "enter into, climb upon, hold to, or in any manner attach himself to any locomotive, locomotive-engine tender, freight or passenger car" (an old law, enacted in 1909), and as of 2007 (the year I retired) shall be punished by a fine not exceeding fifty dollars, or by imprisonment not exceeding 30 days, or by both such fine and imprisonment. In the old days when I started in the 60's, when a misdemeanor arrest of an adult was made it meant a physical arrest, searching, cuffing, transporting and booking the arrested person into jail. However, the law in California changed for misdemeanor arrests of adults, and for some time now adults arrested for misdemeanors are issued notices to appear (citations), unless certain conditions specified by law are present (i.e., offense liable to continue, person unlikely to appear in court, person unable to care for self, person a threat to others, etc.), and these conditions must be documented in writing when person is booked. In reality, serious cases have jammed up the court system; prosecutors may decline to prosecute misdemeanors when there is no personal injury or property loss involved, and when a trespass case does make it to court, a suspended sentence may follow. (Juvenile procedures are different; the officer may counsel and release, cite or book into juvenile hall.) Another misdemeanor violation that can be used on train riders is 587c P.C., evasion of RR fare (fine not over $500 or imprisonment not exceeding 6 months or both such fine and imprisonment); in the old, old days, before my time, conductors used to collect fares from unauthorized train riders on freights. Different misdemeanor statutes cover trespassing on RR property, such as 369i P.C. (within 20 feet of track if trespass or conduct interferes with safe RR operation, or if allowed to continue, would do so), 555 P.C. (on posted industrial property if signs and manner of posting comply with law), and 369g P.C. (unauthorized riding, driving or propelling vehicle upon and along track or over RR's private right-of-way). In practice, when I worked in the field, most trespassers, who were not vandalism or pilferage suspects, were "ejected," meaning we recorded their names and I.D. information on a field interview card, warned them against trespassing and sent them on their way. Persons we physically arrested generally were doing dangerous things (walking through tunnels, on bridges, climbing on signals, walking down the middle of a main line track, walking through a busy train yard, etc.), riding on high-value flat car loads (such as airplane fueselage parts), riding on loads subject to vandalism and theft, such as intermodal and container loads and auto racks, found prowling around high-value theft targets (liquor, cigarette and TV loads), who were known boxcar burglars or cargo thieves, who refused to leave the property, who resisted the officer, who were escapees, or had outstanding arrest warrants. We held trespassers suspected of being undocumented aliens for the Border Patrol or Immigration to pick up. Of course, juvenile train riders were turned over to local agencies so parents could be notified. The ejection cards came in handy for the RR's law department whenever a trespasser was seriously or fatally injured on the railroad. We would go through our data base (in the old days by hand, later by computer) to see if (1) the victim had ever been ejected before, to prove he or she was on notice about not trespassing, and (2) to total up the number of ejections at the location where the accident occurred, in an effort to prove that we made a good faith effort to police the property; this was good information to have for the RR's law department for civil defense of the RR when the lawsuits followed.
Posted by Sam D. on September 23, 2010 
People have been riding freight trains since their first were freight trains. They're not going to stop any time soon, even though in the past few years railroads have started to crack down harder on the practice ("9/11 changed everything" etc etc).
Posted by EL ROCO Photography on September 24, 2010 
Holly Crap Mitch Goldman, he got the photo of the dog on the train! I am truly crushed. Oh well, I am still scheming on how to get "my" dog on the train.
Posted by Nikko P on September 25, 2010 
Great story! There was a similar incident when I was at LAUPT I caught on camera two guys who had missed their Surfliner train by just a few seconds and they actually ran with and jumped onto a *moving* train.
Posted by Charlie O on September 25, 2010 
Yes, there have been unauthorized riders on freight trains since the dawn of the railroad age. Most Class I railroads don't condone it (although some train crews look the other way), their law departments discourage it, and their RR police try to control it. This has been going on since long before 9-11, for four reasons: (1) civil liability when death and injuries occur; (2) freight claims caused by pilferage and vandalism; (3) loss of revenue, when shippers take their business elsewhere when their products are pilfered or damaged; and (4) maintaining a safe work enviornment for employees. And remember, some of the train riders are not boy scouts. The Freight Train Riders of America (FTRA) is a lawless group of armed thugs that ride the rails and prey on other riders (robberies, assaults and worse); serial murderers can be found on trains (the wanted "Boxcar Murderer" was arrested in Roseville Yard by S.P. Police Officer Billy Metcalf), as well as escaped prisoners. Also, I've run across some violent mentally disturbed people that frequent the railroad. Some of the old-time hobos and tramps were quite experienced in boarding freights and detraining safely - when they weren't drunk (I found one drunk tramp lying on his back under a leaking tank car load of wine with his mouth open under the leak). But less experienced riders become part of the annual amputation and fatality statistics. If you've ever seen the aftermath of a train-pedestrian or rider accident, you don't want to see another one (I've seen a number of them). Juvenile joy riders, who jump on and off moving trains live on borrowed time. I even once observed a woman and her small children climb underneath a stopped freight train, subject to movement at any time, in Stockton, CA over Charter Way, and I've observed pedestrians at Jack London Square in Oakland, CA climbing through stopped freights over couples, probably not aware that if the train moves, the jerk from slack action can knock them right into the wheels and their death. Now when it comes to 9-11, I've read the stories about photographers on public property being confronted by authorities for taking pictures of trains and the railroads. I was a railroad cop for 27 years and a district attorney's investigator for 13 years and I know of no laws on the books that prohibit someone that is lawfully standing on public property open to pedestrian use from snapping pictures of trains. There would have to be additional circumstances to justify the reasonable suspicion necessary for a detention in such a case. I question the legality of any peace officer using police power to stop someone who is lawfully on public property from taking pictures of trains. Of course, on public property (or at your home for that matter), a police officer can approach you and talk to you without reasonable suspicion if done on a completely voluntary, non-accusatory and low-key basis, if the officer doesn't tell you to halt, lay hands on you, or shine a spotlight on you, use a whistle, use a siren or emergency lights or horn to exert police authority, or command you to do something (such as coming to the officer), and allows you to ignore and/or walk away from the officer if you so choose. However, the railroads do have some control as to what is allowed on a passenger train station, open to the public for passenger train use, but still railroad property (the dispute between Amtrak and photographers is such a case); for instance, on some railroads, tripods may not be allowed due to trip hazards. If someone trips and falls and is injured, guess what entity gets sued? That's right, the one with deep pockets. (Tripods aren't even allowed in the California State Railroad Museum without prior arrangements for this reason.)
Posted by ChevelleSSguy on September 25, 2010 
Personally. I would rather see enforcement tightened up a lot more with graffitti taggers as well.
Posted by Charlie O on September 26, 2010 
In response to Chevelle SS Guy's comments about graffitti enforcement being stepped up, some graffitti is a form of art but most of it is a blight on, not only the railroads, but the entire nation. Its even present in national and state parks. It is out of control for sure, some done by juveniles and a lot by gang-bangers. I believe that virtually all law enforcement officers, be they park rangers, state troopers, deputies, municipal police officers or RR police take a dim view of graffitti vandalism, as do most good citizens, and would like to be more effective in stopping graffitti vandalism, but lack the resources to do so. Much graffitti vandalism occurs late at night and the taggers are stealthy, and when police are after them, they are young fast runners, great fence jumpers, and very hard to apprehend. Railroads have cut back on personnel, and some government law enforcement agencies are cutting back also, due to the budget crises faced by many states and political subdivisions. On some departments, the officers have to spend most of their time going from call to call, many of the calls involving violent felonies and domestic violence, and have little if any time left for patrol and surveillance. For instance, in the City of Oakland, CA, the local police will not come to your home to investigate a cold burglary, due to cutbacks in personnel (you can forget about detectives canvassing the area for witnesses and video cameras, CSI folks dusting for fingerprints, looking for shoe tracks and tool mark evidence, searching for DNA samples, and sketching and photographing the crime scene, and you can forget about detectives checking pawn tickets for stolen items and interviewing known burglars and fence operators when your home is burglarized in Oakland). Also, law enforcement does not control what action prosecutors, probation departments and the courts take when apprehensions are made. Programs encouraging property owners to promptly remove graffitti, the use of special paint on walls that graffitti can easily be removed from, and some multi-agency anti-graffitti programs where surveillance of graffitti-prone areas is conducted and convicted perpetrators are required by the courts to go out and clean up graffitti have had some limited success (they had such a program in southern Alameda County, CA involving multiple agencies, including the RR police, and some taggers were caught doing their thing on I-880 on a RR overpass in Fremont late at night, and later were required to do graffitti clean-up). However, the graffitti persists. Of course, one of the ways railroads can prevent graffitti and other criminal acts (thefts, burglaries, vandalism, tampering with switches, track obstructions, etc.) is to prevent trespassing, but in spite of new technologies, such as night vision aids and closed circuit TV, there is just way too much railroad and not nearly enough personnel to stop all trespassing.
Posted by Sam D. on September 27, 2010 
Charlie O: I didn't mean to imply there was no enforcement against riders before 9/11; most railroads have always tried to kick riders off when they find them and the penalties have varied from road to road and state to state. There's a Depression-era Nelson Algren short story that discusses how hobos were handled on different railroads in the South, from more or less turning a blind eye on the SP to one railroad that would automatically arrest hobos no matter the circumstances (and in the state of Georgia, a 90-day jail sentence was the standard punishment). What I think has changed in recent years, post-9/11, is this whole security theater that companies (railroad and otherwise) feel compelled to put on, which manifests itself in harassing photographers, but has also resulted in a tougher stance on freight hoppers beyond what was the norm before 9/11. I've heard of at least once incidence of a rider being given Federal charges (they might have even been felony charges, although that seems like a waste of a grand jury's time), and the case didn't involve any theft or tampering. It's charge inflation to put on show for shippers (I'm sure as a DA investigator you've seen it before). I am glad to hear from an LEO who knows the law concerning photography (or lack there of). Too many these days don't. Most of the time it's from a lack of adequate training; there's a lot more cameras and a lot more people taking pictures now than there were a decade ago and police departments have been slow to adapt (and really, they have enough on their plate as it is). On the other hand, there's also this "post-9/11" security theater mindset that a lot of officers have bought into where every little thing is a potential terrorist plot. Almost every photographer I know, and not just the ones who shoot trains, has a story about being questioned or detained for taking photos (with this as the stated reason for the contact, not any other suspicious behavior). I've luckily only had one bad experience with an LEO over my photography; I've had much more trouble with private security guards, who usually have no idea what the law is and probably are worried someone will get a picture of them goofing off on the job.
Posted by Sam D. on September 27, 2010 
I forgot to mention in my last post Re: Amtrak, they also have an issue that not only are their platforms open to the public, but they're a government corporation, which creates a 1st amendment issue; and the 1st amendment does apply, there's a Supreme Court case in which Amtrak was the defendant and the court found that despite not being a government agency, their relationship to the government is such that the 1st amendment is in effect on areas open to the public (reasonable time, pace, and manner requirements may still apply).
Posted by Charlie O on September 28, 2010 
My thanks to Sam D for his comments. I would hope that LEO's are observant and on the look-out for terrorism, but don't overstep their authority. I must say that the depression-era RR law enforcment mentioned above is way before my time! It is certainly very true that enforcement policies differ from road to road and from state to state. They can also differ from an old chief to a new chief and from officer to officer based on their discretion (the chief usually is not with you when you're on patrol). Also, prosecution policy can and does differ from one district attorney's office to another, and the D.A.'s policy is usually passed on to a RR's court officer, who passes it on to management and the troops. I can say that from August of 1965 (when I was hired) until the end of my service with the RR in March of 1993, the good old S.P.'s official policy was to prohibit trespassing. When I worked in Stockton, CA at the beginning of my career, the S.P. and W.P. yards were side-by-side, and the hobos mostly preferred riding the W.P. because the S.P. had a reputation of trespass enforcement while the W.P. did not (at the time, WP RR Police Special Agents doubled as General Claims Agents, and being a smaller road, they did not have many officers). Simple ejections (field interview cards completed with verbal warnings), as opposed to arrests, were usually favored when the sole offense and issue was trespass without complications, such as repeat offenders, refusal to leave, riders on intermodal and auto rack trains, and other things I've mentioned in a prior posting. The ejection (field interview and warning) records were important when trespassers were later injured or killed. As far as federal laws prohibiting trespassing on railroads or rail photography, I'm sorry to say that there are many U.S. Titles with statutes pertaining to various offenses, and, as a former state LEO that generally enforced state law, I only had the Title 18 code book in my library, which is now very dated, and I don't have any knowledge of any federal laws that address those issues. If I was still a RR cop or a DAI, I'd be checking with the feds on this issue, because I am curious; please, if someone can cite a federal statute number on this issue, please advise! Obviously, there is dual jurisdiction between the states and the feds in the case of some RR crimes, for instance the federal train wreck statute and state train wreck and vandalism statutes, and the federal statute covering theft of cargo if the theft is from an interstate shipment (TFIS) and state theft and burglary statutes. Railroad police participate with the feds and local agencies on Joint Terrorism Task Forces. And under a federal law that came into practice after my March 1993 retirement from the SP Police, RR officers granted peace officer power in their home state have limited peace officer power in all the states. As far as the 9-11 thing goes, terrorists do check out and photograph potential targets, and after the 9-11 tragedy and some near misses, one can't be too careful, but a LEO should be able to usually distinguish between a rail fan with a camera and a potential terrorist with a camera (for one thing, probably the rail fan has an expensive digital SLR and the terrorist has a cell phone camera); in any event, a LEO can talk to someone on a voluntary basis while they are on public property as long as no police power is exerted, no commands are made, and the conversation is civil. As far as the Amtrak station platform thing, if there is some safety issue besides the free speech thing, such as tripod trip hazards and bike-riding on the platform, the case of Wasserman v Los Angeles R. Corp. ruled as follows: "Carrier of passengers has right to adopt reasonable rules and regulations for conduct, comfort, and protection of its passengers, and may enforce such rules or regulations by ejecting from its cars or premises one who wrongfully fails or refuses to comply therewith."
Posted by Charlie O on September 28, 2010 
I believe that one more thing needs to be said about the attack of our homeland on 9-11, and current homeland security measures being taken. We are not in a declared war; I don't know how we could declare war on decentralized fanatics that are in numerous countries, including our own, are not part of a uniformed military, and do not represent any one country. But we are still in a war with people that want to kill us for misguided religious and political reasons. We only need to think of our fellow Americans that jumped to their deaths from the World Trade Center to escape the flames (who can forget the video images of the falling bodies), the doomed airline passengers and crews, and the brave first responders who went up the towers when other people were coming down and knowingly sacrificed their lives so that others could live, to understand the awful tragedy of 9-11. I am angry, upset and enraged every time I think of this monstrous act; I find myself shaking and clenching my fists when I see video clips of the jumpers. Does such an attack on our fellow citizens and homeland result in some over-reaction? Sure it does, which is understandable. But the threat still remains, probably will for a long time, and we have to keep our guard up. We also know that trains and mass transit systems have been targeted by terrorists in a number of other countries (Japan, Great Britain, Spain, India and Russia come to mind). We know that there was a conspiracy to attack a mass transit system in New York City. We know that commuter trains and mass transit trains are very vulnerable, by their very nature; you can't check passengers and their belongings like we do at airports or the systems won't work. People commuting to and from their jobs don't have time to come to the train station an hour early to go through security every single commute day. We also know that sometimes wartime conditions result in some restrictions of our liberties, such as the suspension of habeas corpus in the Civil War, and the draft, internment camps, blackouts, curfews and rationing in WW II. We also know that terrorists check out their targets ahead of time and make diagrams and take photos. Against this backdrop, I think it is time for law enforcement officers (LEOs), charged with protecting the public and preventing sabotage and terrorist acts, and rail fan photographers, engaged in their hobby, to understand and respect each other, irregardless of whether or not some law or wartime action justifies police interference with our photography. In a perfect world (and of course, the world is not perfect), (1) LEOs would approach persons taking photos of trains and stations in a friendly, courteous, respectful manner, attempt to engage them in a conversation, watch their reactions, body language and demeanor, and usually an experienced officer would be able to determine whether or not the person is a threat, and if not, leave them alone, unless there is some violation of law that needs to be addressed; and (2) rail fan photographers would understand the dangerous times we live in and would not take offense when a LEO, trying to do his or her job of protecting the public, approaches and chats with them, providing the LEO is courteous, respectful and does not overstep his or her authority, and the rail fan would voluntarily display a cooperative attitude, within reason. This would be a win-win, with the encounter ending in both parties respecting each other.
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