Friday, May 13, 2011

The 5-0 better start watching what they do...

Has your last encounter with police been more like the Jaywalking Scene from Harold and Kumar?  Everyone had their run in with cops before and although most of the police officers are very genuinely in the force because they want to do good, there's always some bad apples that spoil the barrel.  These are individuals who were bullied as a kid and want to take it out on the world with their over exaggerated egos.

Sucks for them, because in the very near future, you can no longer be harassed for recording what cops do.

Why to the police get all worked up by people recording them?  Because they know they don't do everything by the books, they're many times lazy, and cut corners.  They also love to go on power trips.  That being said, they don't want any record of these actions that will come back to haunt them.  This is the very reason why we should be able to freely record them.  If it wasn't for the cell phone camera recordings of the Bart Police Officer shooting, the Officer would have never been convicted.  You can't sidestep around and lie your way out of video evidence.  If cops are allowed to have video cameras on their vehicles that record you when they pull you over, why can't you record them?  We have a duty to hold them accountable as powerful public servants.

The best defense Officers can come up with is "They need to move quickly, in split seconds, without giving a lot of thought to what the adverse consequences for them might be," says Jim Pasco, executive director of the Fraternal Order of Police.  This is complete bullshit -- just an excuse for them to not act by the law.  Police officers, being public servants, should always be aware of the adverse consequences and be prepared for any risk that may come from it (including bodily harm).  I much rather have a Police officer get shot in the line of duty they for them to act recklessly - they're cops, after all, and having that plush salary and retirement benefits should come naturally with risks.  Otherwise, they should be paid no more than hourly McDonald workers.

Police officers saying they would like to "move quickly without giving a lot of thought to what the adverse consequences for them might be" is like me signing up to be a member of the Special Forces then telling my commanding officer I rather not get shot at by insurgents.

Makes a lot of sense, huh?

NPR article below:

This Is The Police: Put Down Your Camera
by Joel Rose

- May 13, 2011There are more than 280 million cellphone subscribers in the U.S., and many of those phones can record video. With so many cameras in pockets and purses, clashes between police and would-be videographers may be inevitable.

Consider what happened to Khaliah Fitchette. Last year, Fitchette, who was 16 at the time, was riding a city bus in Newark, N.J., when two police officers got on to deal with a man who seemed to be drunk. Fitchette decided this would be a good moment to take out her phone and start recording.

"One of the officers told me to turn off my phone, because I was recording them," she said. "I said no. And then she grabbed me and pulled me off the bus to the cop car, which was behind the bus."

The police erased the video from Fitchette's phone. She was handcuffed and spent the next two hours in the back of a squad car before she was released. No charges were filed.

Fitchette is suing the Newark Police Department for violating her civil rights. The New Jersey chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union helped bring the lawsuit.

"All of us, as we walk around, have to understand that we could be filmed, we could be taped," says Deborah Jacobs, director of the ACLU chapter. "But police officers above all others should be subject to this kind of filming because we have a duty to hold them accountable as powerful public servants."

The Newark Police Department did not return calls for comment. But Newark is not the only department that has tried to discourage its citizens from filming on-duty cops.

'Resistant To Change'

In a video from 2010, a state trooper in Maryland flashed his gun while pulling over motorcyclist Anthony Graber for speeding. When Graber posted the video from his helmet cam on YouTube, prosecutors charged him with breaking the state's wiretapping law because he recorded the trooper's voice without consent. A judge dismissed the case. But that hasn't changed the opinion of some in the law enforcement community who say video recording is potentially dangerous for cops.

"They need to move quickly, in split seconds, without giving a lot of thought to what the adverse consequences for them might be," says Jim Pasco, executive director of the Fraternal Order of Police.

"We feel that anything that's going to have a chilling effect on an officer moving — an apprehension that he's being videotaped and may be made to look bad — could cost him or some citizen their life," Pasco says, "or some serious bodily harm."

Tom Nolan, a former Boston police officer, says police have to get used to the world of cameras everywhere. "There's always going to be a pocket of police officers who are resistant to change," he says. "But I think the vast majority of police have been acclimated to the reality that what they're doing is likely being recorded at any given time."

Nolan now teaches at Boston University. He says police in Massachusetts train their officers to tolerate video recording, as long as no other crime is taking place.

And Nolan thinks departments around the country will eventually do the same.

"The police will get the message when municipal governments and police departments have got to write out substantial settlement checks," he says. "Standing by itself, that video camera in the hands of some teenager is not going to constitute sufficient grounds for a lawful arrest."

Khaliah Fitchette's lawyers in New Jersey say her detention was illegal. But Fitchette still says she'd think twice before filming police in Newark again.

"It would have to be important enough to get myself in trouble for, I guess," she says.

She has this attitude, Fitchette says, because she thinks she could get in trouble again, even though her detention was allegedly unlawful.

But the legality of filming is, ultimately, a question the courts will have to answer. Because no one expects teenagers — or the rest of us — to stop shooting video with our phones.

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