We've been at skate spots and experienced our fair share of questionable behavior from security guards and those whose job it is to "serve and protect." And by the looks of the YouTube videos we've seen recently, you have too. So, we called upon TWS alum and now Nike SB's filmer and video maker Jason Hernandez to let us know what to do when the cops roll up on the sesh or how to fight and win those annoying skate tickets.
Words by Ben Kelly
Have you had some bad encounters with cops or security guards while you're out skating?
Yes. I think every single time they tell you that they're "going to" or that they "have the right to" take your camera gear and that "they're going to" prosecute you and that it's "going to" be this long ordeal until you can get it back because they have "the right to" do that. That's always burned into my brain. It's just so scary to know that since they're a cop, they can do whatever they want.
What do you think the best way to alleviate the situation is? You obviously don't want to talk shit back to a cop, but is there some point where you should stand up for yourself?
Typically, nine times outta ten, since you're riding a skateboard, they think you're somewhat young. So that's against you, 'cause they think you're just a dumb kid. Or if you're older, they use the, "Well, you should know better." So you're screwed either way. If you talk to them, or question them, you're a smartass right off the bat. No matter what you say to them, you're gonna come off as questioning authority, when in reality you're not. First and foremost, I'll try and read them, and if I realize that's the type of cop they are, then I usually just stay as quiet as I can. No matter what you do, they're gonna find a way to turn the tables and make you feel like you're being an asshole to them. So I stay quiet and listen to what they say. But if I really disagree, I'll open my mouth and I say it right away: "No disrespect, but I disagree with what you're saying right now." And they still don't like you for saying that.
How many tickets do you think you've gotten since you started skating?
In reality, not that many—probably like ten of fifteen. I'm sure there are a lot of filmers who've gotten a lot more. I got 'em more before I started filming. I got 'em more when I was just a skater, not so much a filmer.
What's your method to fighting tickets and getting out of having to pay the fine?
When you get your ticket, you usually get a month to either pay for it or go show up at court. So, I'll call in before my date and extend it an extra month. Then before the new date, I extend it one more time. So now that means it's been two months since the cop originally wrote you the ticket. One more month later when your date comes, you have to go to court, so I go to court and plead "not guilty." That takes another month for the court to schedule a hearing where the cop shows up or doesn't show up. Four months later I'm hoping the cop isn't so hard up that he's worrying about the guy he wrote a ticket to for skateboarding. My method is out-waiting them. I got all the time in the world to not pay a skateboarding ticket, and if the cop doesn't show, then you're off—everyone knows that.
And that's worked for you?
It's worked three times so far. One time when I pled not guilty, I got the judge who's just laughing that I got a skateboarding ticket and they just dismissed it.
If you're going to film and it's known for being a bust, what do you do to get the trick?
If you're filming something that's not a line, then don't take your skateboard. I've realized and have heard from other photogs that if you don't have your skateboard, sometimes they don't associate you with skateboarders. If you're filming a line, then you gotta risk it. Pack a light bag and if you got to run, you got to run. Like me, I got a bunch of gear. So I'm usually f—ked most of the time. Try and speak to the cops or security as respectable and professional as you can because already think you're some punk kid who's just skateboarding, trespassing, and defacing property that's not yours.
Are there those cops out there that see things from a skater's perspective?
I almost see it as seeing the bigger picture. Like, me and my friends built a new spot and one day three cops in come into the spot—I've never seen a cop there once—and one cop goes, "You guys aren't supposed to be here." Typical thing. But then he goes, "But I don't care. This is amazing. You guys really went out of the box here. I am impressed with you guys. I want to have your back. My kid skates and I know what he goes through. You've basically given back to skateboarders." I'm just like, "What the hell? Are you really saying this?" He gave me his card and he wants me to contact a council member. It was insane. I've never had an experience like this. They said they were going to put the call out to their superior officers and let them know that they spoke to us and that it was our spot. There you go. Nine times out of ten, most cops are non-understanding dicks, and if I would've been a dick to him, I could have blown the whole interaction, but he was cool, man.