Connecticut Firefighter Charged Criminally With Phototaking At Incident Scene

A Connecticut firefighter has been charged with violating a state law that makes it a crime for first responders to take photos of victims at emergency scenes. Steven Frischling, 45, the public information officer for the Chesterfield Fire Company, was arrested Tuesday.

Frischling is charged with violating Joshua’s Law, enacted in 2011 following the taking and sharing of a photo of a heroin overdose victim by a New London police officer. The law states:

Sec. 53-341c. Unauthorized taking or transmission by first responders of images of crime or accident victims. Any peace officer or firefighter, as those terms are defined in section 53a-3, or any ambulance driver, emergency medical responder, emergency medical technician or paramedic, as those terms are defined in section 19a-175, who responds to a request to provide medical or other assistance to a person and, other than in the performance of his or her duties, knowingly (1) takes a photographic or digital image of such person without the consent of such person or a member of such person’s immediate family, or (2) transmits, disseminates or otherwise makes available to a third person a photographic or digital image of such person without the consent of such person or a member of such person’s immediate family, shall be fined not more than two thousand dollars or imprisoned not more than one year, or both.

Montville Police charged Frischling with two counts of violating Joshua’s Law, one for taking photos at the scene of a motor vehicle accident on February 7, 2021, and one for sharing them on Facebook. According to the Montville Patch, Frischling claims he took and shared the photos in question pursuant to his duties as PIO.

Here is a copy of the criminal complaint listing the factual allegations against Frischling.

Here is more from the Montville Patch.

Connecticut is one of three states that have criminalized this sort of phototaking. New Jersey (Cathy’s Law) and California (Kobe Bryant) are the others.

About Curt Varone

Curt Varone has over 45 years of fire service experience and 35 as a practicing attorney licensed in both Rhode Island and Maine. His background includes 29 years as a career firefighter in Providence (retiring as a Deputy Assistant Chief), as well as volunteer and paid on call experience. He is the author of two books: Legal Considerations for Fire and Emergency Services, (2006, 2nd ed. 2011, 3rd ed. 2014, 4th ed. 2022) and Fire Officer's Legal Handbook (2007), and is a contributing editor for Firehouse Magazine writing the Fire Law column.
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