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Fargo North Dakota OOPS!

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#1 David Knisely

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Posted 27 August 2015 - 03:15 AM

Check this out...

 

http://www.grandfork...s-telescope-gun

 

I'm glad my local police and sheriff's office know what my own scopes look like!  Clear skies to you.



#2 Rick J

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Posted 27 August 2015 - 03:41 AM

That's pretty tame compared to what Steve and I went through at the club's site.  Full Swat with two choppers overhead and automatic arms carried by the cops.  I can't recall the big bucks they spent on their raid of us.  All for nothing.

 

Decades ago Brian Schaff had a similar encounter with Air Force cops when he set up his 8" dob that they thought was a mortar aimed at the air base.  That got pretty dicy.  He was in a public park as I recall.

 

Rick



#3 cwilson

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Posted 27 August 2015 - 08:17 AM

Had the police called on me years ago for the same thing. Someone thought my 8" Newt was some sort or weapon and called the police. But it ended well with the responding officers getting a look at the moon and Jupiter!



#4 GJJim

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Posted 27 August 2015 - 08:28 AM

Didn't Ben Franklin say that folks who expect both astronomy and security will have neither?  :grin:



#5 hottr6

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Posted 27 August 2015 - 12:16 PM

When the police mistake something that looks like a huge mortar and a "rifle", it is no wonder this country is in bad shape.     :4

 

Now if Marge from the movie Fargo had been in attendance, there would have been no confusion with a tree chipper.



#6 A6Q6

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Posted 27 August 2015 - 02:07 PM

Maybe its time to do some outreach at the police station.



#7 csrlice12

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Posted 27 August 2015 - 04:01 PM

I volunteer for the next immigrant shuttle to whatever planet....



#8 llanitedave

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Posted 27 August 2015 - 04:11 PM

'Police say the two were never in any danger and that it was a situation of "better safe than sorry."'

 

Looks like from the way it went down, where the students didn't realize the officers were actually police officers and continued digging in their bags, I'd guess they were in real danger.  There are certain jurisdictions that would not have had any patience with hesitation, and something that "looks like a gun" would have invited immediate fire.  The students are lucky that the officers had a smidgeon of patience.



#9 kfiscus

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Posted 27 August 2015 - 06:30 PM

Is there a back channel for the law enforcement world like CN is for us?  It could be potentially lifesaving for there to be an awareness campaign intended for police/military types to know what a modern scope often looks like, ie many of us aren't using small refractors on tall tripods.



#10 EricTheCat

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Posted 27 August 2015 - 07:14 PM

I had a much less exciting experience once.  A long time ago before a I had a better place to observe I used to set up my old 4.5" reflector out at a public lake access.  One night I was packing up as sky conditions were getting worse.  A car pulled in to the lot where I was set up and I figured it was probably the usual group of teenagers messing around.  I left and the car quickly turned around and started following me.  I picked up speed a little I didn't want to let them get much closer when suddenly the flashing lights lit up, it was a local sheriff's deputy.  He noticed my scope right away so he just asked me questions about how good it was and what I could see.  I was lucky, technically the park was closed but he acknowledged that I was not causing any problems and let me on my way. :)

 

 Also one time I had the police called on me when I went walking down a trail in the woods after dark with my camera and a tripod.  It was October or November and so it was dark long before the park closed.  I was taking some pics of the moon and the river with my camera and when I came back to my car I could see a flashlight shining the area.  It turned out someone called the police because they thought it was suspicious of me to walk in to the woods alone after dark.

 

At night it is not always obvious who you are dealing with right away.  Luckily none of my telescopes have been misjudged as something sinister. 



#11 Rick J

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Posted 27 August 2015 - 10:59 PM

Maybe its time to do some outreach at the police station.

In my case we had.  Didn't help.  They still had on file that the previous owner was the owner.  This even though both of us had both notified them of the sale and purchase years earlier.  We'd held public star parties there and notified them of these.  We'd filed several vandalism reports as well, all ignored.  Still they somehow "forgot".  Once they realized they couldn't get us on really serious charges they fell back on trying to arrest us for trespassing even though we both had keys to the front gate (special magnetic keys no locksmith could copy).  Of course they plowed that down to toothpicks with large vehicle to get in.  They also took large tracked vehicles across the farmer's fields which caused several irate farmers to show up and they were armed thinking vandals were to blame.  Took an hour to bring the sheriff, deputies and state troopers to the realization they'd done all this for nothing and nearly shot innocent folk.  Newspaper said the total cost ran well into 5 figures for costs for overtime, helicopters, crop damage. fence damage, etc.  The only sane officer was the game warden.  Somehow they decided we'd likely violated some game laws and had him along.  He saw immediately it was a fiasco and tried, mostly in vain, to calm the cops down. 

 

After the various cops all left the game warden stayed to actually learn something.  It was obvious he had a very low opinion of the Sheriff that organized the fiasco.

 

Not all my encounters with law enforcement were bad.  I had planned to set up in an abandoned, thus very dark, rest area atop a hill to photograph Halley's comet as it rose.  As I arrived a highway patrolman was in the rest area eating a 3 a.m. breakfast.  I told him what I was doing and he was fine with that and left.  Just as Halley rose enough to start an image a car drove in followed by another and another until some 40 had arrived.  The lead car was the trooper.  Seems county roads were being blocked by people hunting for the comet.  He rounded them up to unblock the roads by leading them to me.  I ended up showing everyone the comet and never did get a picture of it.  Our club had gotten permission to hold a public Halley watch the following morning which was well publicized using the same rest area.  So I spent two mornings there but had lots of help the second day.  And far more public.  Same trooper was there as well acting as traffic control.  He asked if I'd be back the next morning but that was a work day and after two mornings I couldn't do a third and go to work.  He was worried what he'd do to keep the roads clear.  He lucked out, it was cloudy the next few mornings.  After that it moved to the evening sky.

 

Rick 



#12 cwilson

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Posted 28 August 2015 - 06:22 AM

Welcome to our brave new world.... :(



#13 Love Cowboy

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Posted 28 August 2015 - 06:29 AM

 

Maybe its time to do some outreach at the police station.

In my case we had.  Didn't help.  They still had on file that the previous owner was the owner.  This even though both of us had both notified them of the sale and purchase years earlier.  We'd held public star parties there and notified them of these.  We'd filed several vandalism reports as well, all ignored.  Still they somehow "forgot".  Once they realized they couldn't get us on really serious charges they fell back on trying to arrest us for trespassing even though we both had keys to the front gate (special magnetic keys no locksmith could copy).  Of course they plowed that down to toothpicks with large vehicle to get in.  They also took large tracked vehicles across the farmer's fields which caused several irate farmers to show up and they were armed thinking vandals were to blame.  Took an hour to bring the sheriff, deputies and state troopers to the realization they'd done all this for nothing and nearly shot innocent folk.  Newspaper said the total cost ran well into 5 figures for costs for overtime, helicopters, crop damage. fence damage, etc.  The only sane officer was the game warden.  Somehow they decided we'd likely violated some game laws and had him along.  He saw immediately it was a fiasco and tried, mostly in vain, to calm the cops down. 

 

After the various cops all left the game warden stayed to actually learn something.  It was obvious he had a very low opinion of the Sheriff that organized the fiasco.

 

Not all my encounters with law enforcement were bad.  I had planned to set up in an abandoned, thus very dark, rest area atop a hill to photograph Halley's comet as it rose.  As I arrived a highway patrolman was in the rest area eating a 3 a.m. breakfast.  I told him what I was doing and he was fine with that and left.  Just as Halley rose enough to start an image a car drove in followed by another and another until some 40 had arrived.  The lead car was the trooper.  Seems county roads were being blocked by people hunting for the comet.  He rounded them up to unblock the roads by leading them to me.  I ended up showing everyone the comet and never did get a picture of it.  Our club had gotten permission to hold a public Halley watch the following morning which was well publicized using the same rest area.  So I spent two mornings there but had lots of help the second day.  And far more public.  Same trooper was there as well acting as traffic control.  He asked if I'd be back the next morning but that was a work day and after two mornings I couldn't do a third and go to work.  He was worried what he'd do to keep the roads clear.  He lucked out, it was cloudy the next few mornings.  After that it moved to the evening sky.

 

Rick 

 

 

And this was at a club site??? ****... and I was just about to comment on my thankfulness that my club has a dedicated site.



#14 Rick J

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Posted 29 August 2015 - 12:33 AM

Yep, we bought a decommissioned Atlas Missile Silo and several acres around it.  Huge concrete pad for general viewing and plenty of grassy areas for those doing imaging.  Houses eventually moved in and some character who wanted to live in a silo bought it for about 12 times what we paid for it.  An offer we couldn't refuse.  Considering when it was an active missile silo two huge pumps filling two ponds were needed to keep it dry I have no idea how he expected to make it work.  He knew this and bought it anyway.  I have no idea if he ever made it work.  Just getting in would be a task.  We filled the entrance with tons of concrete rubble and capped it with a thick concrete slab to prevent entrance and limit our liability.  Sheriff knew this too but still had never updated their ownership records.  This happened on a Sunday evening so no way to check with the courthouse at the time.  It was still light when the raid occurred.  All that for just the two of us waiting for dark.  I did have my 10" f/5 out cooling but it was on a GEM and pointed mirror end up looking at the concrete silo doors. 

 

Rick



#15 Kidastronomer

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Posted 29 August 2015 - 10:29 PM

Good thing my my neighbors know that my giant 10" scope is a telescope and not a mortar...

#16 SleepIsWrong

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Posted 30 August 2015 - 09:34 PM

I had a similar occurance back in the spring of 1970 - a few of us had gathered at a friend's observatory between Palinwell, and Otsego, Michigan, to see comet Bennett before sunrise.  An Allegan County cop responded to neighbors' calls and asked us what we were doing and we explained we were looking at the comet.  He asked us "What comet?" and we all pointed.  He was thunderstruck to say the least and immediately called in for backup.  By the time the sun brightened the horizon we had six cops looking through the telescopes. 

 

Mike



#17 GeneT

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Posted 31 August 2015 - 04:44 PM

We were checked out by the cops once in San Antonio. When the officers approached, we invited them to look through the telescopes. They were amazed; we made some friends that night, and educated a few police officers about telescopes.




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