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Turnabout is Fair Play
Posted by: Dale Franks on Friday, June 22, 2007

More and more, police departments are videotaping traffic stops and everything else. They don't have a problem with videotaping.

Unless, of course, it's a citizen videotaping them.
Last month, Brian Kelly of Carlisle, Pa., was riding with a friend when the car he was in was pulled over by a local police officer. Kelly, an amateur videographer, had his video camera with him and decided to record the traffic stop.

The officer who pulled over the vehicle saw the camera and demanded Kelly hand it over. Kelly obliged. Soon after, six more police officers pulled up. They arrested Kelly on charges of violating an outdated Pennsylvania wiretapping law that forbids audio recordings of any second party without their permission. In this case, that party was the police officer.

Kelly was charged with a felony, spent 26 hours in jail, and faces up to 10 years in prison. All for merely recording a police officer, a public servant, while he was on the job.
Now, fortunately, in this case, it had a happy ending today for Mr. Kelly.
A case that attracted nationwide attention has ended with the dropping of a felony wiretapping charge against a Carlisle man who recorded a police officer during a traffic stop.

Cumberland County District Attorney David Freed said his decision will affect not only Brian Kelly, 18, but also will establish a policy for police departments countywide.

"When police are audio- and video-recording traffic stops with notice to the subjects, similar actions by citizens, even if done in secret, will not result in criminal charges," Freed said yesterday. "I intend to communicate this decision to all police agencies within the county so that officers on the street are better-prepared to handle a similar situation should it arise again."
That's good for Mr. Kelly, but, unfortunately, he's not the only one.
Last year, Massachusetts Attorney General Tom Reilly threatened Internet activist Mary T. Jean with arrest and felony prosecution for posting a video to her website of state police swarming a home and arresting a man without a warrant.

Michael Gannon of New Hampshire was also arrested on felony wiretapping charges last year after recording a police officer who was being verbally abusive on his
doorstep. Photojournalist Carlos Miller was arrested in February of this year after taking pictures of on-duty police officers in Miami. And Philadelphia student Neftaly Cruz was arrested last year after he took pictures of a drug bust with his cell phone.
They can take pictures and video of us all day long, but as soon as the cameras are pointed at them, it becomes a felony?

I don't think so.

Just where do these people get off assuming that they are our blue-uniformed masters?

We pay their salaries. They work for us. And the fact that they wear blue uniforms, carry guns, and make arrests should mean that they have less protection from being photographed or videotaped in a public place, not more.

Once again, this is symptomatic of the increasing arrogance that pervades policing in this country. This attitude that they are exempt from the normal requirements that apply to the rest of us. This willingness to arrest people for committing perfectly legal acts, just because they don't like it.

They are our servants, not vice versa. Somehow, we need to find a way to make that truth crystal clear to them.
 
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Previous Comments to this Post 

Comments
Defense of this is even easier...

The cop is recording you, and himself. He has consented to being recorded. The fact that he’s not concented to YOUR recording doesn’t matter. He’s already being recorded, so the second set doesn’t matter...
 
Written By: Scott Jacobs
URL: http://
They are our servants, not vice versa

Did you mean for that to sound as imperious and high-handed as it did?

Some of the police objections may be legitimate. I personally lean towards the "let everyone record if they want" position, but just to play devil’s advocate for a moment...

There is at least one very significant difference between a citizen recording and the police recording. The dash-cam recordings in a police officer’s car are time-stamped, and the digital models can be digitally watermarked to help ensure their admissability as evidence. The same cannot be said for somebody’s random cell-phone video. If something happens, a patrol-car tape is immediately taken as evidence by the shift supervisor. Additionally, if there’s ever a dispute about what happened at a traffic stop, a tape can be pulled from the archives and viewed by the parties involved.

The police may be concerned that somebody is going to tape them, alter, edit, or dub the tape, and put it out to the media (or youtube) as a genuine account of the incident. There may be a legitimate question of objectivity here, not to mention admissability as evidence.

Either that, or the police don’t want videos of themselves appearing on some guy’s "Bad Cop, No Donut" website, right along with their home address, SSN, etc (the latter has already been done).
 
Written By: TheNewGuy
URL: http://
Related item:
He saw me, dressed a a human being in Jeans and a t-shirt, pushing a cart of innocuous groceries next to my girlfriend, when he saw the butt of my holstered pistol, or some portion of it, sticking out from under my shirt. He stopped me just outside the door, asked for ID, and when I told him it was in my pocket(front pocket) ‘wristed’ me, and pushed me into the wall just outside the door.

Then he took my wallet, keys, other keys, pocket knife, other pocket knife. I informed him that I had my permit in order, he responded, very loudly, “It’s a concealed permit! Don’t you know what concealed means?”

I’m actually really surprised I stayed so calm, but he wasn’t having any of my “Actually, it’s a handgun carry permit, the law does not specify concealed carry” or my “Actually, yes, I do know what the law is, and yes, it is different for you and I under TN law.” He shouted that “I gotta carry concealed off duty, and so do you! Don’t try and tell me.” He got mad because I had two pocketknives, as well. He wasn’t interested in the fact that I knew the law on carry, or that my weapon was safely and legally carried and told me that he’d ‘get me’ for inciting unrest or making a disturbance.
(Found via Instapundit.)
 
Written By: Billy Hollis
URL: http://
"Did you mean for that to sound as imperious and high-handed as it did?"

Yeah, what makes an uppity citizen like Dale think that a public servant is actually a public servant?
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
Yeah, what makes an uppity citizen like Dale think that a public servant is actually a public servant?

I’ll thank you not to put words in my mouth.

I have a problem with calling anyone my "servant," as it sounds just a little too aristrocratic for my taste. "Public servant" is a catch-phrase, not a license to treat another individual as your personal lickspittle.

Respect goes both ways, and the "us versus them" atmosphere that hangs over these debates is contributed to by both sides.

 
Written By: TheNewGuy
URL: http://
Respect goes both ways...
Yes. But that does not mean the relationship is symmetrical. Only one side has the power to throw someone on the other side in jail on a whim by making trumped up charges.

In exchange for the kind of power wielded by agents of the state, we have every reason for them to be held to a higher standard. If you were ever in the shoes of one of these people arrested for lawfully using recording devices, or lawfully carrying your own gun, or happening to be in the wrong place at the wrong time when a district attorney decided he needed a rape charge to get re-elected, I’ll bet you would agree.

And before you go off too much about what Dale has to say about police, you might check into his background.
 
Written By: Billy Hollis
URL: http://
Yeah, what makes an uppity citizen like Dale think that a public servant is actually a public servant?
I’ll thank you not to put words in my mouth.


I don’t know why he bothered. You were thinking them really loudly.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://
New Guy barfed:

"I have a problem with calling anyone my "servant," as it sounds just a little too aristrocratic for my taste. "Public servant" is a catch-phrase, not a license to treat another individual as your personal lickspittle.

Respect goes both ways, and the "us versus them" atmosphere that hangs over these debates is contributed to by both sides."

Have you ever heard the term "Public Service"? Why do they call themselves "Public Servants"?

Is your vocabulary so stunted you don’t comprehend the difference between "SERVANT" and SLAVE (Which is where I think you’re going with this)?

Get a clue, brickbrain. Unless you’ve had your head in the sand for a few generations, "they" think of themselves as MASTERS.

Further, you may wish to read a bit of the Founding Fathers and their take on the subject nad the VOCABULARY.

OH, and then you can remove your foot from your mouth and your head from your rectum.

Imperious, indeed!!
 
Written By: Sharpshooter
URL: http://
Have you ever heard the term "Public Service"?

That is what we were discussing before you started hollering. There’s a significant difference between calling someone your "servant," and saying they’re in the profession of "public service," or "serving their country." The former has a subtely different connotation... almost a "fetch me a mint julep, boy" quality. If that’s the way you think of police officers, then fine... but I expect you to say the same thing to the next group of Marines you encounter (be sure to use the same "I pay your salary!!" attitude).

Get a clue, brickbrain. Unless you’ve had your head in the sand for a few generations, "they" think of themselves as MASTERS.

It’s always nice to discuss these issues with somebody who’s willing to elevate the discourse. And for your information, I’ve never met a police officer who considered himself the MASTER, and the citizen the SLAVE.

In any event, I’m not the jack-booted thug you’re looking for. I don’t have a problem with citizens taping police, which was the original topic of this thread.
 
Written By: TheNewGuy
URL: http://
They are our servants, not vice versa
Did you mean for that to sound as imperious and high-handed as it did?
Yes, I certainly did. We provide them with the privilege of wearing distinctive uniforms. We allow them to carry weapons openly. We give them the power to make arrests, and to use deadly force.

With those privileges comes an extra responsibility to be accountable, and the power they can invoke requires extensive public audit, and draconian punishment for violations of the trust placed in them.

Either that, or the police don’t want videos of themselves appearing on some guy’s "Bad Cop, No Donut" website...
Then quit.

Just as I don’t have any expectation of privacy in public, nether do you. If the fact that your job requires you to work in public, and you don’t like the exposure attendant upon those duties, then find another line of work.
 
Written By: Dale Franks
URL: http://www.qando.net
"I have a problem with calling anyone my "servant,""

As you say, that is your problem.
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
Yes, I certainly did. We provide them with the privilege of wearing distinctive uniforms. We allow them to carry weapons openly. We give them the power to make arrests, and to use deadly force.
In this country the police have the power to relieve you of your freedom - your actual, bodily freedom - by means of arrest. They have this power because we, the citizens - give them that power. It is willingly bestowed upon them.

If that is then not a case where they should be closely watched in order that such power does not corrupt, I don’t know what is. Just as Congress must have an open system that allows public accountability - a system that becomes less existant by the day it seems, regardless of New Media - the police must be held accountable.

One way for that to happen is by the dashboard cameras, even though those cameras are there for Police benifit, and not the pure benefit of the general public. Yes, a private video lacks the digital watermarks and timestamps of the video from a police cruiser. It can be set next to a video from said dash-cam, and sync’d to match, providing two points of view for the same actions.

All officers should, at this point, be aware of the fact that they can be videotaped at any time. If not by equipment they themselves have brought to the scene, then by private citizens who pulled out a digits recorder or a cell phone. If Rodney King didn’t drill that lesson home then cops are a fairly ignorant segment of the population.

I like to think that most cops are just honest people trying to do their very best in a difficult job. A job which is often viewed with extreme hostility by the very people they are trying to protect.

I am increasing coming to the conclusion, however, that I am quite wrong in the matter...
I have a problem with calling anyone my "servant," as it sounds just a little too aristrocratic for my taste. "Public servant" is a catch-phrase, not a license to treat another individual as your personal lickspittle.
And I don’t believe anyone has suggested hat they should be treated as such. But as I said, their power is derived from the will of the people. They ultimately serve at our pleasure. When they forget - or willfully ignore - that fact, we see abuses of power and authority. Abuses with debase us all, whether we are involved or not.
 
Written By: Scott Jacobs
URL: http://
Then quit.

I’m not a cop

Just as I don’t have any expectation of privacy in public, nether do you. If the fact that your job requires you to work in public, and you don’t like the exposure attendant upon those duties, then find another line of work.

For the third time, I don’t have a problem with public videotaping. On the related point, I do have a problem with posting officers’ personal information on websites, just as I have a problem with some newspapers who have posted lists of CCW holders. They can hide behind all the "public information" arguments they want, but such public "outing" really boils down to embarassment and intimidation, and we all know it. In the case of a police officer, it can cost him or his family their lives.

My problem is with the nomenclature, and the attitude. Poking a police officer in the chest and whipping out the "you work for me! I pay your salary!" line makes you just as big a jerk as the cop who throws you an arrogant or bullying attitude on a traffic stop.

Everyone wants to focus on the arrogant cop’s attitude, while overlooking the "high-school educated, couldn’t-get-another-job, rambo-wanna-be, jack-booted-thugs, small-dicked cop" comments that these discussions inevitably generate. Some of the anti police attitudes are just as toxic as the bully cop’s, and they’re just as counterproductive and wrong.

 
Written By: TheNewGuy
URL: http://
Everyone wants to focus on the arrogant cop’s attitude
The complaint is not merely about an arrogant attitude but for the "willingness to arrest people for committing perfectly legal acts."
while overlooking the "high-school educated, couldn’t-get-another-job, rambo-wanna-be, jack-booted-thugs, small-dicked cop" comments
Where might these be? You continue to make arguments that have nothing to do with this post.

And Dale was a cop, but I don’t know about the size of his genitals.
 
Written By: JWG
URL: http://
"while overlooking the "high-school educated, couldn’t-get-another-job, rambo-wanna-be, jack-booted-thugs, small-dicked cop" comments that these discussions inevitably generate."

Well do please help us not to overlook these comments by pointing them out to us. That shouldn’t be a problem, since they are inevitable.
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
When the police are given additional rights not even available to any of the rest of us, their standards need to be significantly higher than ours. After all, here in GA, police are allowed to have representation at a Grand Jury hearing as well as make statements at said hearing. Good luck getting your lawyer into the same hearing or being allowed in the room, let alone giving your side.

As for the "cop-cams" those cameras can be (and have been) turned off by the police officer himself. Do we really want the power to completely remove oversight in the hands of the officer being overseen? #1, the cameras should not be controlled from the car. #2, non-police cameras should be explicitly legal.
On the related point, I do have a problem with posting officers’ personal information on websites, just as I have a problem with some newspapers who have posted lists of CCW holders. They can hide behind all the "public information" arguments they want, but such public "outing" really boils down to embarassment and intimidation, and we all know it. In the case of a police officer, it can cost him or his family their lives.
How does this have anything to do with this? Did anyone bring this up?
 
Written By: ChipVA
URL: http://

 
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