Joseph L. Parker is a writer and nature photographer who has lived in his Ozark, Ala., neighborhood for four years. Everyone who knows Parker is aware of his passion for nature photography, and he carries his camera with him practically everywhere he goes. About twice a week, he walks around his neighborhood looking for things to photograph. When returning home from one of his recent walks, he was, much to his surprise, met by what eventually turned out to be four police cars, he told Examiner.com Monday.
According to Parker, he was met by a local police officer and a county sheriff's deputy. Additionally, two unmarked police cars stopped at his home, but they were waved off by the other officers, he said.
"We got a call that you've been walking taking photos," one officer said, according to Parker.
"When I take photos," Parker explained, "people might think I'm pointing at their house, but it's really something in the yard or a tree."
Parker explained that he frequently walks about his neighborhood looking for things to shoot, and has so far accumulated about 100,000 photos. He gave police his business card and showed them some of his work. Eventually, he convinced them he was harmless and they went on their way.
None of the officers were rude or threatening, he added, but the incident left him shaken.
"I kinda felt like my Constitutional rights were violated," he said, even though he was doing nothing wrong and carrying nothing more threatening than a camera.
Although the encounter turned out well, he thought it was "crazy" that four police cars, including two unmarked vehicles, were dispatched to check him out.
Just the day before, he told Examiner, he wondered how long it would be before someone called the police. A few months prior to this incident, a policeman stopped him as he was walking and asked if a pen in his backpack was a syringe.
"I always wondered what I would do in a situation like that, and a part of me wanted to stand up and say, 'you're wrong,'
but I felt like God was working with me encouraging me to be calm," he said. Parker also said he believed things turned out well for him because of the way he responded to officers.
"It was a wild experience," he said. Parker's Facebook page can be seen here.