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Recording Police Misconduct is Illegal 354

Posted by michael
from the getting-the-short-end-of-the-nightstick dept.
mypalmike writes: "The Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts has upheld a lower court's decision that it is illegal to record what happens to you when get pulled over by the police. It seems they are citing a rule which essentially prohibits all recording in which the recording is made secretly. Maybe I can sue the local quickiemart for secretly recording me as I purchase a slushie. (Reported in the Boston Globe)." I'm not sure I understand this. Aren't almost all police cars these days equipped with video cameras that record everything occuring in front of the car?
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Recording Police Misconduct is Illegal

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    When I was fourteen, I got caught with a friend who was (unbeknownst to me) shoplifting in the same store I was buying some supplies for a project in. When we met up in the lobby of the store, we were both taken into custody and I was arrested (well, they never read me my rights, but they put me in handcuffs and took me to jail with him). I refused to make any statements and did not talk to the police officer as I was not involved but knew that there was little point in debating it with a buy who's just making his quota. Later, when my lawyer read the police report back to me, there were suddenly all sorts of statements I had made about how I shoplifted with my friend and was damn proud of it and derogatory statements about "pigs" and "bacon". I had always been taught that you are not required to speak to the police without a lawyer present or until you are ready to make a statement. I'm not sure if this happens to adults, but when I was a kid, I had all sorts of things held against me that never should have happend. From having statements made up when I didn't say anything to being arrested without having my rights read to me. And in the long run, nobody gave a damn (although the judge excused me since he realized I had no part or knowledge in what my friend had done). I guess it's not a big deal when a policeman fabricates statements and ignores procedure.
  • Well, then, as public officials performing a public function in accordance with prevailing laws and regulations, they should have no problem with being recorded in any form.
    Answer me the simple question: Will this make it harder for police officer who do not abuse their power (IE, the vast, vast majority) to perform their job?

    Why should it? As police are so fond of saying when asking for draconian new powers and tools, if they're innocent, why would they have anything to fear?

  • Seriously, cops get paid low enough that you have to want to be a civil servant to take the job.

    Unfortunatly, the working conditions and pay mean that there are two types strongly attracted to law enforcement: Those who are dedicated to an orderly and safe society, and those who have a powerful underlying need to weild authority over others. Of course, the latter category is the problem.

    The problem is compounded by many of the metrics used to determine a good officer. For example, the undesirable category of officer will typically have less trouble meeting ticketing quotas, and will show no reluctance to engage in the latest marginally constitutional police action. Their job performance will appear to be superior on paper.

    Lawmakers should show a LOT more respect to law enforcement, the People, and the spirit of freedom and democracy than they do.

    Police departments should endevor to remove the undesirable category of officers from the force, EVEN AT THE COST OF EFFECTIVENESS. The failure to do that is at the heart of the slow decline in respect for the law amongst average citizens.

  • Is larceny a felony? I believe you can only make a citizen's arrest for a felony-level crime.
  • "This Car Subject to Video Taping"

    That should satisy the requirement that the recording not be made without notification.
  • by Chas (5144)
    It's illegal to try to obtain proof that the broken jaw and strangulation bruises really come from the cops and aren't self inflicted.

    Jeeze.


    Chas - The one, the only.
    THANK GOD!!!
  • On top of that, most of these folks aren't philosophers, thinking deeply about the role of government and the enforcement of possibly unjust laws.

    The really sad thing it isn't just the cops--almost *nobody* in this country thinks deeply about the role of government and the enforcement of possibly unjust laws.

  • Who will watch the watchers? Not you obviously.

    As for obtaining video records from government agencies, good luck: "Do you know the number of the video tape on which the alleged action was recorded?" Of course not. You couldn't possibly.

    Maybe Kazinski wasn't completely wrong about everything.

    We live in societies bound by two webs. One of trust and one of deceit. Some people are constantly stradlling lines from both.
  • Think that's weird? According to a friend of mine (who is not a lawyer, but his wife is an educator for "special needs" children), in Florida it's legal to record video, except you can't record video of a retarded child without permission from their legal guardian.

    So your webcam is perfectly legal, unless a retarded child walks by.

    That information is third-hand, and I can't provide a citation, so don't hack on me too much if it's wrong...

    -
  • Most of the US is like that, too. Canada tends to pass national laws, but the US Constitutionally leaves most questions to the states.

    So what you should have said is "Massachusetts is weird."

    And, you'd be right; we have a certain bunch of states that tend to have weird-ass laws that don't reflect the rest of the country. Massachusetts is among them. More power to 'em; they can have whatever laws they want, without affecting me.

    -
  • by Omnifarious (11933) <eric-slash@omERD ... g minus math_god> on Saturday July 14, 2001 @05:36AM (#85466) Homepage Journal

    Do it openly and your gear will be confiscated, and if you're not lucky, other stuff you own too. The cop will probably start looking really hard for stuff to arrest you for too. At any rate, you won't get your recording. SECRETLY is the only way to get your recording and force a certain level of accountability.

  • by peter303 (12292) on Saturday July 14, 2001 @05:17AM (#85467)
    As that unbiquitous popup ad asks.
  • To annoy a police officer who has pulled you over is to put yourself at risk. In that situation, he has the power. He can escalate a parking ticket to a more severe ticket. He can decide to search the car for drugs. If he does, you may have the upholstery ripped out. The only person who will end up paying for that is the owner of the car. He doesn't have to find out that you have done anything wrong to put you in considerable trouble, and to considerable expense.

    People, with a few exceptions, are not sane enough to be trusted with authority. There have been several experiments that prove this quite emphatically. At least one had to be cancelled because the students started to physically abuse each other.

    Do not assume that a person that you meet in a social context will behave the same when a stranger meets him in an official context. It is an incorrect assumption.

    This is one of the problems with the prisons. The guards are put in an inherently corrupting situation, and most of them become corrupted, in one way or another. Mainly just to the extent of standing by while others in authority do things that they know to be reprehensible, but that, also, is corruption. Prisons need to be redesigned so that there is no interaction between the various kinds of authority present. This includes guards. This includes gang leaders. This includes peer groups. And the sentences need to be correspondingly shortened. With everybody in real solitary, including no interaction with the guards...this is mandatory, the time will need to be shortened by ... well, this would need to be determined. People in total isolation start hallucinating after a few months.

    Notice that this would immediately destroy the recruitment of members for the prison gangs. That is but one of it's benefits. It would also destroy the corruption of the guards, which is just as important. The moral atmosphere of a society requires that the guardians should act in a moral fashion, and that includes not knowingly allowing immoral actions (e.g., the beatings of prisoners, the smuggling of drugs that they consider "wrong" to transport) to take place without at least speaking out. So the systems need to be so designed that they need not allow such things to happen. The easy way is to prevent them from happening, and the easy way to do that is to close off the avenues of communication.

    Notice that this implies that there should be no use of money within the prison. None. No phone calls (I expect that calls by lawyers would need to be allowed.)

    This is but a skeleton, and there are lots of details that would need to be adjusted. But it provides the idea. I recognize that this is, in many ways, more punishing to many than the current prison environment would be (I recognize this by proposing shorter sentences), but that's not the purpose. The purpose is to cut the various cycles of corruption that I have identified.


    Caution: Now approaching the (technological) singularity.
  • And I think that negligent homocide is the appropriate accusation. The other is just silly. That one thought ... I find it hard to believe anything else. Remembering back to when I was in my twenties, and the times that I was lucky, rather than careful though ...

    I'm rather glad that I was lucky. I don't think I would have ended up with anyone ... else ... dead, but I'm rather glad that I was lucky.


    Caution: Now approaching the (technological) singularity.
  • The police are not to blame, but their job design creates intolerable pressures of various kinds. Police need to support each other. This is sufficiently strong (their life may depend on the action of their fellows) that they will not speak out against those that fairly blatently violate politeness, civility, decency, the constitution, and local ordinances. Consider that in the Rodney King case no policeman could be found to testify against those involved. And all of those involved supported each other.

    Even if you take the kindest possible interpretation of their actions, at least they were guilty of excessive use of force. But no policeman testified to that.

    So the "good" hide and protect the evil. Should they then be surprised that they are tarred with the same brush? There's no obvious way to tell them apart.

    But the problem is basically structural. The job design is quite awful. And most of that design is in the hands of politicians who neither have real experience, nor any long term interest in fixing the problems. It it doesn't win votes at the next election, then they don't care. (And that's another, different, design error.)

    These design errors are, actually, the same. Many jobs are designed to create centers of authority, which are clustered in subservience to a higher center of authority. This is a social design that we have inherited from, at minimum, the feudal Kings and Lords. Possibly from the Romans (the intermediate period is hard to trace things through). It's not the only way to do things, but is one of the easiest to design. (Rather like code that's just thrown together, and then evolved by a chain of maintenance techs, who each need to re-write some piece of it, but have to keep the whole thing working the entire time, and never get to debug it.)

    Caution: Now approaching the (technological) singularity.
  • Actually, I have a vauge memory that says he used that quote in "The Gods Themselves". Not sure though. If so, he identified it as a quote, wherever he used it. Other authors have also used it, also identifying it as a quote (though not always identifying the source). I believe that it was Clarke's first law, but I can't remember where it appeared.

    Caution: Now approaching the (technological) singularity.
  • You lived in a gentle area. Well, I did too, but there were small gangs of bullies. If one wasn't enough, you got several.

    So for some reason I'm distrustful of authority figures. I don't think of them as supportive. Not terrible (they never jumped on me themselves), but certainly not supportive, or trustworthy.

    As an adult I have seen no reason to change my mind. The first rule is don't piss off the boss. The second is don't get caught. You can pretty much forget the rest.

    Caution: Now approaching the (technological) singularity.
  • It's a socialist state, what do you expect?

  • by BRock97 (17460) on Saturday July 14, 2001 @05:49AM (#85484) Homepage
    Unless you are blind, all quickiemarts (aka 7-Eleven, Kum and Go, etc) have some form of sticker when you enter the shop that says the place is under the camera's eye. So, in that respect, it is different. Sorry, but no legal action for you.

    Bryan R.
  • The police abusing a bad law is not news specifically for nerds, but this is also about the bigger issue of the dangers of legislative overreaction to technology, in this case, the ever cheaper and smaller video cameras.
  • I was in Harrod's a couple of years ago and I noticed one of the ceiling cameras pointed directly at me. I walked 45 degrees along its circumference and it followed. Another direction, it followed again. I put down the £200 worth of stuff that I was buying, flipped the camera the bird and walked out. I was disgusted.
    That kind of rudeness should not be tolerated - not from a salesperson and not from some clown sitting in a back room twiddling his joystick.
    I hear people in England say thet they enjoy the *security* of these cameras, but at what cost?
    Where I live, we have beat cops who actually walk around, not so afraid that they have to hide behind a camera. They say hello, offer politeness and respect and expect it in return, get to know the people in the neighborhood (to the point of stopping by your house once a year to introduce themselves and see who you are) and they won't hesitate to stop you if you look like you are doing something suspicious. (Or lend a helping hand if you happen to need one at that moment.)
    That's the kind of security I would prefer from the police - When a policeman makes a mental note of you, he has his intuition and his conscience, backed by a brain that no computer can compete with. When a camera takes note of you, you are just an entry in a database waiting to be taken out of context, the first time suspicion is cast upon you for something. I mean, we are conditioned to see anyone on a security monitor as an instant perpetrator.
    Which would you choose?

    Cheers,
    Jim

    MMDC Mobile Media [mmdc.net]
  • but 'wiretapping', I thought, by definnition, was when an electronic conversation was eavesdropped on.
    Recording a meatspace conversation is not wiretapping..
  • True enough.
    I just know I've heard about this type of interpretation of state wiretapping laws in several states... so much that the common person on the street (even in canada) is under the impression that its' illegal to record a conversation without the permission of all parties.

    It's rediculous.... and this court ruling is doubly rediculous. Wiretapping laws were to prevent eavsdropping on telephone conversations....not to prevent people from recording what they are legally hearing.
  • Wiretapping laws are supposed to safeguard privacy, you got that right.

    But if I call you on the phone, you have no expectation of privacy with regards to me. You can expect that whatever you say into the phone, I will hear (and be able to record, etc).
    It's only some states that have 'abused' the wording of their anti-wiretap statutes, interpreting recording your OWN phone calls as 'intercepting' the communications. (By classical definition, you cannot intercept something already destined for you)
  • No, I don't think it matters. There may be some other laws unrelated to wiretapping regarding this.. howver.

    In the scenario you described, there is no 'sneakiness'. The person in question IS talking to you, and has no expectation of privacy with regards to you. Playing a videotape back is similar to verbally recounting a conversation, except it's more accurate. It's not any sort of invasion of privacy.

    Now, if I leave the room, and some of those I'm meeting wiht start talking while I'm not present, even for a moment, then they DO have an expectation of privacy, and my videotaping them may be illegal.

    As with spying; using a device to pick up a conversation (or picture) you cannot see without such an aid is illegal; using the same device to simply record or make easier some transaction is perfectly legal.

  • by mindstrm (20013) on Saturday July 14, 2001 @03:56AM (#85493)
    Especially the 'wiretapping' bs where tape recording your OWN phone call is considered 'wiretapping'.

    Canada, lots of other places, you can record any conversation so long as at least one party involved knows about it. I believe the same goes for video. (You can't video tape people in a private place without their permission, but if you are one of the people involved...)
  • I do not bellieve it is illegal to record a phone call for your own personal use, even in most states where there are two-party consent laws. It IS illegal, however, to share the resulting tape (or a transcript, etc.) with another person. Even if it is illegal, such a law is basically unenforceable. Unless you tell someone you have such a tape, no one will know anyway, so it's kinda hard to enforce. And of course, the resulting tape cannot be used against the uninformed party, in court or otherwise, since that would violate his assumed privacy. (Unless you're a democrat, and the republican party doesn't like you, in which case, all bets are off.)
  • Tell the officer he's being recorded. You don't have to show him the recording device, nor do you actually have to have one. In fact, you can put a notice on the driver's side window that says something to the effect "Traffic stops may be monitored or recorded for quality assurance." or some BS like that. Then that whole "I didn't know I was being recorded bit" doesn't apply. Of course, if you actually SAY you're being recorded, then its on the recording as well, and they'll have a REALLY hard time dening that they knew about it.

    The problem with is, is the fact that the whole REASON for recording police encounters is to have later evidence of police wrongdoing. If the police KNOW they're being recorded and they commit said act of wrongdoing, they will probably attempt to confiscate or destroy any recording devices. The way around this is to not HAVE any recording devices in the car. Use a cell phone to transmit the encounter and have a recorder on the other end.

    In fact, if you're recording the conversation over the phone, you might not even have to disclose that fact. It HAS been proven in court that only one participant in a phone conversation has to know they're being recorded. I wonder....

    -Restil
  • Affirmative action needs a sunset clause. 2010 would be a good time to put that behind us. It can only really be justified as the law trying to compensate for the mass amount of discrimination against minorities that occurs.

    There are two problems here. The first is that AA simply covers up any discrimination, worst those best at discrimination can come out looking the best. The same way that corrupt cops can wind up looking "good".
    The other problem is that as soon as you remove AA the qualifications of any previously favoured group become utterly valueless
  • Did you see this page [state.ma.us].

    Apparently they've never heard of the web. Very crafty; to avoid getting citizens all uppity about their opinions, they hide them behind some ancient BBS system that may or may not even still be around.
  • by csbruce (39509)
    All citizens should have the right to secretly or non-secretly record any public official while they are discharging their duties in public.
  • This case just confirms the basic problem with Brin's concept (i.e. if you think that the people in power will in fact permit universal surveillance results to be available to Joe Sixpack, particularly in cases where it shows their own misconduct, I want to know what you're smoking and where you got it).
    /.
  • by ender- (42944)
    How many times has a cop car without its lights on blow by you doing 90MPH on the freeway? Have you ever seen one of these guys pulled over for speeding?

    I like to make note of the vehicle number and make a call to the police station. I have called in and reported officers speeding, driving without seatbelts and tailgating a motorcycle.

    I don't know that the officers are ever reprimanded or anything, but at least it lets someone at the station know that they are being watched.

    Ender

  • She was writing a dissenting opinion. The purpose of a dissenting opinion is not to set legal presedence, but to espouse your viewpoint.

    The comment about the Rodney King video was what's known as 'obiter' (I THINK I spelled the word right). -- It's, more or less, an aside to the larger argument. It doesn't have the effect of creating any sort of precedent, but coming from the chief justice of the state, I would be inclined to believe that she knew what she was talking about.

    Even dissenting opinions have some real value in the legal world. They often describe the issues that the majority decision is either opening up or leaving unresolved. These issues often need to be addressed later -- whether by future decisions or future legislation.

    (That having being said: If the person describing her comment as flat out wrong was Thurgood Marshall [google.com], then I'd say we had a real legal disagreement on our hands).
    --

  • by darkonc (47285) <stephen_samuelNO@SPAMbcgreen.com> on Saturday July 14, 2001 @07:46PM (#85510) Homepage Journal
    >> The laws on the books say you can record public places on videotape, but you can not retain copies of audio.
    > What's the purpose behind laws like that?

    Most surveilance-type tapes are made without audio. Most consumer video devices have builtin microphones that are often difficult to disconnect (i.e. requiring [warranty-voiding] disassembly).

    In other words it allows professional surveillance videos of public places, while making it hard for the public to do the same on an ad-hock basis.

    Ain't public protection nice?
    --

  • by darkonc (47285) <stephen_samuelNO@SPAMbcgreen.com> on Saturday July 14, 2001 @08:21PM (#85511) Homepage Journal
    Not all police are assholes... In fact MOST police are not assholes. The problem is that the police system often allows the assholes to continue to do their dirty work.

    As an example, most RCMP are fine people, but I had a run-in with a Sgt. Bruce Waite. Mr. Waite has a history of beating up prisoners -- especially natives. The RCMP has settled a number of times out of court after he was sued for beating up prisoners. (One, for example, had to be medivaced to hospital after the beating he recieved).

    After one such lawsuit, they then gave him a Promotion and put him in charge of a detatchment... near yet another native reserve.

    And you wonder why minorities sometimes hate police?
    --

  • And the United Nations meeting in New York is about removing all guns from private ownership.

    Don't belive everything you read in Black Helicopter Times, ok? While there are definitely legitimate RKBA concerns with the proposals to limit small-arms sales, suggesting that the U.N. is assmbling a plan to confiscate our firearms is exageration.

    Tom Swiss | the infamous tms | http://www.infamous.net/

  • by interiot (50685) on Saturday July 14, 2001 @04:34AM (#85514) Homepage


    David Yas, publisher of Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly, said the wiretapping law was established to protect citizens against government oppression.

    "The preamble to the law said electronic devices are a danger to the privacy of all citizens. This case turns that notion on its head because here we had an individual trying to protect himself from a misdeed on the part of public officials and he's the one who ends up being arrested for it and prosecuted," Yas said.
    --

  • So just because I received a speeding ticket, I now see cops blowing by me on the highway at 90 mph? Wrong.

    The officer who gave me my ticket was right - I admit that much, which is why I paid it. I was in the wrong - and I don't hold it against him. But it doesn't excuse the cops I see speeding down the highway at far excessive speeds without lights or sirens. It doesn't excuse the cops who beat Rodney King, either.

    Are there good cops? Sure. But they seem to be in short supply.

    The police are paid by us, through taxes. They're there to serve us, the public. It should be reasonable for them to expect they *will* be recorded, while serving the public in a public place - even if it only serves as a check for those who abuse their power.
  • Remember Ted Kennedy's "Where Was George" speech?
    Remember the T-Shirts the RNC made?

    Heh. They said "Dry, Sober and Home With His Wife."

    Woot!

    - - - - -
  • IANAL. The legality of one-party recordings varies by state. In some states (Maryland & Massachusetts apparently), all parties must know of the recording. In some others (Texas), only one party need consent to a recording. Check with a lawyer.

    Of course, this cuts both ways: the police may or may not need to inform you of their recordings. In all states and Federally AFAIK, evesdropping without either party's consent is illegal.

  • by NetJunkie (56134) <jason...nash@@@gmail...com> on Saturday July 14, 2001 @03:50AM (#85519)
    The part of the article that concerns me is where the Judge said the Rodney King video would have been prohibited in that state. Didn't that take place on a public road? You couldn't record the actions of police in a PUBLIC place?

    Be interesting to see if police want to set up video cameras with face matching software in Boston in a few months....
  • I'm friends with four police officers in Massachusetts, three of which I see on a weekly basis. All of them are nice people, and none of them abuse their power.

    You have absolutely no way of knowing that they don't abuse their power. Nice and friendly people are frequently guilty of horrendous crimes
  • I don't need to know them or you, all I need to know is that you're not present when they perform their job. That means that you simply can't know if what they do there.

    That they are very nice and friendly too you doesn't mean that they will treat people they percieve to be scum legally. Neither does being married to a black woman, or even being black for that matter.

    Things like planting evidence on or beating up people who they know are guilty of something, but don't have enough evidence for can easily be seen as a way of helping justice and doing a good thing for officers who percieve themselves as being very good upstanding people. They would most likely not discuss that with civilian friends. It's been known to be a routine tactic in many police departments.

    Check out what friends and neighbours say about serial killers sometime. It's quite often that it's incomprehensible that such nice and friendly people could possibly be guilty of anything remotely so horrific. The bottom line is that you just don't ever know.

    That they don't tell you about any criminal activity they engage in is no guarantee either. If the police themeselves operated by those standards, they would catch very few criminals.
  • This is what is called a strawman argument. Instead of responding to my actual argument, that he can't be sure his police friends are not criminals, tentacle pretends that I have claimed that his friends in fact are criminals, and responds to that instead.

    This is usually done because people have no good response to the real argument and have to invent a stupider argument that they can respond to. It can possibly also be because of poor reading or comprehension skills. In either case, there is nothing for me to add.
  • This is deteriorating into nonsene. You ask me to prove my accusations. But I haven't made any accusations. You suddenly demand that courtroom rules should apply to this thread, seemingly unaware that this is not a courtroom.

    The "innocent until proven guilty" principle only means that the legal system should treat people as innocents (i.e. not punish them) until convicted of a crime, not that they have not actually commited the crime. I'm sure you also know that when you're not trying to win an argument.

    To get back to the actual issue, what I originally commented was this statement by you:

    I'm friends with four police officers in Massachusetts, three of which I see on a weekly basis. All of them are nice people, and none of them abuse their power.

    This clearly says that your friends do not break the law. What you're saying now is that they have not been convicted of breaking the law. A completely different statement. I suppose I could see the fact that you no longer defend your original statement as a quiet admission that you were wrong.
  • by romco (61131) on Saturday July 14, 2001 @04:02AM (#85528) Homepage
    OK this is a out there...

    But your honor I was helping the police officer
    with HIS DUTY to record any interviews with suspects.

    FROM: http://www.commonwealthpolice.com/Free_Stuff/Crimm inalProcedure312_388/7police_interrogation_recordi ng_e.htm

    In Commonwealth v. Diaz, 422 Mass. 269 (1996), the SJC stated that "[w]e decline at this time to adopt or prescribe a rule of general superintendence or of common law suppressing statements taken from a defendant in custody in a police station unless those statements have been electronically recorded. However, defense counsel is entitled to pursue the failure of the police to record a defendant's statements. Counsel may, for example, inquire of a testifying police officer, as happened here, whether he or she was aware of the availability of recorders to use during the questioning of suspects. Counsel may argue to a jury and to a judge as factfinder that the failure of the police to record electronically statements made in a place of custody should be considered in deciding the voluntariness of any statement, whether the defendant was properly advised of his rights, and whether any statement attributed to the defendant was made."

    Thinge that make you go hmmm....

  • ... the cop said I was weaving around in my lane. Well, the REASON I was weaving ... I was looking in the rear-view mirror, trying to figure out why a car had closed in on me going 120-150 mph, then slowed down to my speed and started shadowing me

    Something similar happened to me. I was in the right-but-one lane just after bar closing, approaching my exit. Car pulled up into my right blind-spot and sat there - where I couldn't tell whether it had my bumper hooked or not.

    Sped up, it sped up. Slowed down, it slowed down. (Is it a drunk or a cop.) Repeat, with more extreme changes, until I finally hit the brakes max from 65 down to about 45 and they couldn't slow abruptly enough. So THEN they lit up and pulled me over. Two in car, one came out...

    "Do you know why we pulled you over?"

    "Why, no, officer. Could you tell me, please?"

    "You seemed to be having difficulty controlling your speed."

    (No I didn't explode in her face...)

    After I told her I thought she might have been a drunk and I was trying to get her out of my blind spot (and her partner had a good laugh) she gave me a bunch of drunk tests looked through the junk in my back seat (for "junk"?) and finally sent me on my way.
  • How many times has a cop car without its lights on blow by you doing 90MPH on the freeway? Have you ever seen one of these guys pulled over for speeding?

    No, and you won't. Because sometimes it's proper and legal cop behavior.

    When they are called to a crime in progress they are often ordered to approach dark and silent. This is to avoid alerting the perpetrator, which might lead to a hostage situation.

    They are supposed to proceed lights-only (because sirens CARRY) until close enough that the perp or his lookout might see them, then go down to just running lights (to look like ordinary traffic) and perhaps go totally dark for final approach if it's safe.

    If they're full-blast on the freeway without lights they're probably either on such a call or moving up on someone they observed doing something questionable or illegal and trying not to spook him into a chase (VERY dangerous to bystanders) until they're too close for him to think he has a chance to escape.
  • MA is interesting. I guess those laws allowed a senator from the state to get away with murder (or at least negligenct homicide), but prevent a common citizen from protecting himself from a authority figure abusing his/her power.

    MA is indeed interesting. Once it was a major factor in the revolt against England and a hotbed of freedom-lovers - and the free press. But after the Potato Famine an influx of immigrants (not JUST from Ireland) turned its legal system upside-down, making it a hotbed of censorship. The ideological descandants of the revolutionaries headed west.

    A significant fraction of them ended up in Oregon, which is now a hotbed of porn publishing. B-) Unfortunately, the east-coast transplanted-European-serf mindset followed in two stages - into California starting perhaps in the '60s, and is just now moving on Oregon, Washington, Arizona, and Nevada.

    Perhaps the "hi tek crash" will slow it down - at least until the next economic half-cycle.
  • I'm pointing out that if we're going to get legal about the issue, the law states that video is OK, but audio isn't. That's just the way the ball fell.

    I am not aware of the philosophical standings that lead to this decision, I'll be willing to wager a guess. By being in public, you are making it impossible for people _not_ to see you. If we were to make it illegal to record people visually in public, it would be impossible to do any public recording, for fear of people steping into the frame of view of the camera.

    With recording audio, it a damned hard task trying to record just what you want when you are doing it intentionally, let alone without someone's permission. It is much easier to establish probable cause when someone is recording someone else's voice than it is to establish probable cause for recording someone else's picture.

    Additionally, in public, you can view another persion from 50+ feet away with or without the aid of technical devices. If you try to listen to a conversation from 50 feet away, it is a completely different issue. When you go out in public, you have accepted the fact that you will be viewed by other people. The degree and detail with which you will be viewed is moot.

    In legislation, shades of grey are the last thing we want. The only shades of gray should be in establishing justifiable cause. If you want freedom, you have to define where it begins and ends. Otherwise, we have anarchy.

  • Well, then, as public officials performing a public function in accordance with prevailing laws and regulations, they should have no problem with being recorded in any form.

    Answer me the simple question: Will this make it harder for police officer who do not abuse their power (IE, the vast, vast majority) to perform their job?

    One of the most important traits of being a police officer is judgement. You have to constantly make decisions on a moment's notice, with the consequences of life and death lying in your hands. This includes decisions about confronting individuals, among other things.

    The accusations of "racial profiling" has resulted in, in many counties, the documentation of the race of suspects pulled over by police. Now, the prime concern of a police officer in those counties has changed from "has this person committed a crime" to "will pursuing this person get me in trouble." If it turns out you are pulling over a disproportionate number of minority drivers because minority drivers are doing more things to be pulled over, reality ends up taking back seat to a knee jerk "police are racist" mentality.

    Would you agree that police officers would have to fear their words being twisted against them, whether right or wrong, in a civil lawsuit?

    You claim that police officers perform a public service, and should be held to open scrutiny. This is true, however, they should not be held up to an asinine degree of scrutiny. A private individual has no right to record the conversation of another without their consent. This is a law on the books, and just because the other individual happens to be a police officer, it doesn't take away this legal freedom when he puts on a badge. Police officers choose to protect the public, risking their lives every day, only to have the public spit back in their faces. The last thing we should do is make the lives of the police any harder than they already are.

    If you still want officers to have their conversations recorded, rally your local community to force police to wear microphones, or inform the next officer who pulls you over that you will be recording the conversation.

  • Given that you don't know these people or the nature of which I know them, I find you unqualified to judge my statements about them.

    I _do_ know that they don't abuse their power, because I listen to what they go through at work. These men go completely by the book, and I have never heard them once allude to anything illegal or abusive.

    One of the police officers is my cousin. He once returned an extra monitor that was given to him by accident by Gateway. He is a person who I would view as the least likely in the world to be bigotted, given that he is married to a black woman. I'm pretty sure he doesn't fit into the stereotype of police officers that many political whores like to foster for the sake of sensationalism.

    Of the three other officers, two of them are active, while one has retired. Twice a week, I take a jujitsu class with them. They have invited me to come down to a shooting range some time this summer, and they'll show me how to fire a .22.

    I regularly hear stories about their jobs which makes me sick to my stomach at the flak they recieve. This ranges from law school students who and kids with rich parents who are ready to sue at the drop of the hat, to idiots who are ready to fight an armed officer (or worse). I trust these people so much that if I had a bag with a million dollars, I would know they could hold on to it without a dollar dissapearing.

    Do not try to comment on how I judge people, when you don't even know the facts surrounding the situation.

  • She was writing a dissenting opinion. The purpose of a dissenting opinion is not to set legal presedence, but to espouse your viewpoint. She could have said that this opens the door for martian invasion, and she would have had the right to do so.

    Also, as you said, she is the ultimate interpretation of the law in Massachusetts. If she was speaking a on literal level, she would have to be mentally inept, since the Rodney King case took place in California. In fact, she was talking about where this legal legislation could possibly lead. She is also a justice in a court in one of the most constitutionally illiterate states in the country. I should know, since I live in the state.

    Justice Marshall touted rhetoric because she didn't like the ruling. It was her opinion, and she gave it from a rhetorical, and not legal, perspective.

  • I doubt anyone is impressed that you read the list of fallacious arguments [don-lindsay-archive.org]. I'm sure that everyone is much less impressed, however, by the fact that you can't even cite it in the proper situation [don-lindsay-archive.org].

    You said that it is impossible to know that the police I know are not criminals. Either you prove that they are criminals, or by burden of the law, they are not.

    Unlike you, who thinks that by looking through a FAQ they are the next Robert Shapiro, I actually base my arguments on logic and reasoning. You see, in any courtroom I would need only prove that there is no evidence against my friends in order to prove they are not guilty. I have gone above and beyond the requirement, by proving that their motives are _contradictory_ to those of the corrupt. I don't need to prove a universal negative to win the argument.

    You, on the other hand, have to prove that the police friends I know are, beyond a reasonable doubt, corrupt. The burden of proof always lies on the accuser.

    For those unfamiliar with litigation: when someone asks you a question, you are obligated to answer it. I follow the personal rule that you ask a person a question 3 times before breaking off the discussion, since by then you can be sure the person does not possess the mental facilities to make your time worthwhile.

    For the second time: can you please cite for me evidence that suggests that the police officers I know have committed crimes?

    By your own rules, you prove for me that your wife or mother is not a slut?

  • If you had more foresight than Mr Magoo, perhaps you would have bothered to read the rest of the thread. I did not use my police officer friends as the only basis of my argument. It was when someone called into question my belief that these men are not corrupt that I decided to bring up their traits which are contradictory to the police stereotype.

    I did err in my original post by not pointing out he was a white police officer married to a black woman. Like any decent human being, I don't try to exploit race to win arguments. However, since the subject was police, and police are commonly stereotyped as racist/fat/corrupt/violent pigs, I found it necessary to point out he did not fit in to any of that mold.

    If you give details about your beating, I will be glad to comment on them. For all I know, you might be the exception to the rule. However, the majority of the time police violence is justified. I would rather see a police officer shoot and potentially kill a violent suspect, rather than put an officer in danger of breaking a fingernail.

    We, the people, have the right not to have our conversations taped without our consent. If we expect police officers to be put to the same standards as the rest of us, then we have to give them those same rights.

  • You made this statement:

    You have absolutely no way of knowing that they don't abuse their power.

    Yes, I do know that they don't abuse their power. They are straight arrows. Can I prove it to be an absolute truth? No. Can I prove it beyond a reasonable doubt? Yes.

    You don't know the nature of my relationship with these people. For all you know, I could be the adopted child of these people.

    The only way you can say that I don't know whether these people break the law is by proving either (1) it is impossible to conclude beyond a reasonable doubt that these people have not abused their power, (2) provide evidence that these particular people have abused their power.

    I can state, beyond a reasonable doubt, that these people do not systematically abuse their power. Do I know if they've ever once used their siren in a less than emergency situation, or talked to a friend to get out of a parking ticket? Nope. But I do know that abuse of power is not consistent with their regular behavior.

    You can not judge how I know these people based on the information I have provided you. To make a judgement of how I know these people, based on what little you know, is to make a blind stab in the dark.

  • by tentac1e (62936) on Saturday July 14, 2001 @09:52AM (#85561) Journal
    The Rodney King statement is flat out wrong. The laws on the books say you can record public places on videotape, but you can not retain copies of audio. The person who recorded it would have been perfectly allowed to record the incident, just as long as what they were saying wasn't audible.

    I'd also like to address the disgusting stereotype of police I have been reading around here. I'm friends with four police officers in Massachusetts, three of which I see on a weekly basis. All of them are nice people, and none of them abuse their power.

    The problem we have in society in relation to the police is that because we get a speeding ticket, we suddenly decide to foster a hatred for the person who gave it to us. Only a fraction of a fraction of a percent of police harbor any racism or abuse their power, most of which residing in towns that only recently obtained indoor plumbing.

    Cops choose to do their job knowing that their lives are in danger every day. If this makes it easier for them to do their job, without worrying about some asshole posting a recording of their actions on the Internet without their permission, than I'm for it.

    If you don't think there are enough methods to record police officers' actions, then rally your town to pay for every officer to wear a microphone. Just don't be surprised later if it turns out their job performance suffers.

  • 3001: The last Odessey
    Definitely not "The God Themselves".

    Against Stupidity, the gods themselves content in vain.
  • by smirkleton (69652) on Saturday July 14, 2001 @05:24AM (#85567)
    I thought you said "Police Misconduct is Illegal".


    Whew...
  • by RedX (71326) <redx@wideo p e nwest.com> on Saturday July 14, 2001 @07:29AM (#85571)
    No need to speak. Just shrinkwrap your driver's licenst in an EULA that states that you are recording this encounter for quality control purposes and that the police officer recognizes this fact by removing the license from the shrinkwrap.
  • Police-related... My friend (nickname: Elephant) told me this a few days ago in e-mail.

    "I just saw a license plate frame on a cop car that read: 'CHEER UP. I'M NOT BEHIND YOU!'"

  • Wrong! It is Mass. residents that don't have those rights. Here in Arizona we can shoot burglars and record what we need to.
  • I find this idea interesting. Do you think there would be any advantage to allowing interaction between the authorities/prisoners (to reduce any harm from complete isolation) but reduce physical interaction to as limited as possible (solitary without the solitude for all prisoners).
  • by Noer (85363)
    Lots of employees (esp. bank employees) but especially some gov't employees (i.e. those who work in the money mints) work under the knowledge that they are being recorded, for good reason.

    I think police officers should also work under the knowledge or assumption that they are being recorded. If a cop is going to say "well, I have a right to be aware that I'm being recorded, so I don't get caught harassing and abusing people" then I guess that's ok - but I don't think it should be each citizen's responsibility to remind the pig that he's being recorded. It should go with the job. Just as a cop is aware that he may be shot at by a crazed motorist (which is why they follow certain safety procedures), the cop should be aware that he may be recorded, which is why he should follow certain CIVILITY procedures.

    Being a public employee should essentially mean you must ALWAYS assume that you are being recorded, WHILE ON DUTY. Of course, when you're off duty, you're not under that assumption.

    It's not that cops are in a different category, it's that they do not have a right to privacy while on duty, and they should assume they're being recorded (and maybe they should stop acting like assholes so much of the time).
  • I think he means that if you forget to tell the cops that you're carrying a gun then you might get shot or have an otherwise bad day.

    -Andy

  • by JoeShmoe (90109) <askjoeshmoe@hotmail.com> on Saturday July 14, 2001 @03:38AM (#85587)
    Next time a cop pulls you over, whip out a tape recorder and politely tell them that you are making a record of everything.

    I'm kinda curious if they would ask you to stop or not. In any event, it seems like a great idea because if there is one thing I have learned is that cops love to twist your words around. I once told a cop my license plate was in my trunk because my front mounting bracket was broken and when the cop recounted my statement it had somehow become that i refused to mount a front license plate to avoid photorader. Jerk.
  • by Sc00ter (99550) on Saturday July 14, 2001 @05:46AM (#85591) Homepage
    The sticker says "Anybody pulling over this car will be video taped, if you don't like it, don't pull me over". Then the cop knows he's being video taped.

    Seriously.. I've been pulled over a few times, I don't know if they were taping or not, but if they were, I did NOT know about it.. And if you watch these police videos on TV, the drunk people that get pulled over also don't know they're being taped, so how could that be evidence?


    --

  • "I was in Harrod's a couple of years ago and I noticed one of the ceiling cameras pointed directly at me. I walked 45 degrees along its circumference and it followed. Another direction, it followed again. I put down the £200 worth of stuff that I was buying, flipped the camera the bird and walked out. I was disgusted." I hate to say it but that was probably not the best idea, they guards probably assumed you knew you were caught and gave up... What you should have done is walk up to a manager, hand him the stuff and tell him you were leaving and why. Otherwise most security assumes the worst (they are security after all) heck they probably told their boss about the one they scared off that day. On another note, has anyone considered if this means I can insist a police officer turns off his dash camera when he pulls me over? If they are citing a state law it should work both ways.
  • That's exaclty what I was about to post, but I also wondered if anybody knew - can they even legally take the device? do you have to reveal where it is hidden?

  • Ah - violence is the solution. Is that what you are telling children who feel victimized?

    Here's a better analogy fuckhead WACO.

    Here's a clue: You shouldn't feel offeended by me calling you a fuckhead. That's exactly what you advocate for perceived victimhood - slashing out. I doing it to you, the violence advocate.

  • I was referring to the now elder and still often drunk Senator Kennedy [ytedk.com]. The girl killed was named Mary Jo Kopechne and her body was most defin. found.
    "Science is about ego as much as it is about discovery and truth"
  • by cluge (114877) on Saturday July 14, 2001 @05:40AM (#85602) Homepage
    Somewhere on a dark night outside of Boston

    The lights flash, and a siren wails. "Damn cops, they are on to me." As I pull over I flip the face plate down so they can't see I have cajun [sourceforge.net] in the car and quickly hit the hidden record button [linuxvideo.org]

    "Do you know why I pulled you over boy?"
    "No SIR!"
    "You have a picture of a penguin on your car, you know the Linux operating system is illegal don't you??"
    "Yes Sir I only run Microsoft product as per the constitutional amendment of 2015, Sir"
    "You wouldn't be an illegal coder would you? I see the case of Jolt cola there, and I think I see an O'Reilly book on your back seat, thats damn near probable cause to search your car!"
    "But sir, I'm just a lowly cleaner, see all the cleaning supplies. I found this stuff in an storage unit I was cleaning out".

    I showed him my pay stub for the idiots I work for. I knew going through those old storage lockers would net me someting eventually. The cop bought it. Berated me for the penguin sign, said even though it wasn't illegal he'd take it off the car. I promised I would. Cop said owning a O'reilley book was illegal even though I knew it wasn't. I tried to argue but got a quick slap in the face. Ended up giving him the book, don't want him opening the trunk. We parted amicably, my cheek still stinging. Wow what a bitch slap that was. He probably dresses in drag on the weekends.

    I'll use my new face recgonition software and cross my video with the video feed we have at dumbkin dognuts. Have to keep an eye on this one, he must of spotted that penguin sticker from 200 meters or more.

    Over the top can't happen? Well at one time I would have thought that you could always record what a public official does in public. MA is interesting. I guess those laws allowed a senator from the state to get away with murder (or at least negligenct homicide), but prevent a common citizen from protecting himself from a authority figure abusing his/her power.


    "Science is about ego as much as it is about discovery and truth"

  • Yeah, I got pulled over once at around 3 am, because the cop said I was weaving around in my lane. Well, the REASON I was weaving around in my lane was because I was looking in the rear-view mirror, trying to figure out why a car had closed in on me going 120-150 mph, then slowed down to my speed and started shadowing me. Christ, I thought the guy was some kind of psychopathic freeway killer, it scared the shit out of me.

    The only "intuitive" interface is the nipple. After that, it's all learned.
  • by gengee (124713) <gengis@hawaii.rr.com> on Saturday July 14, 2001 @04:39AM (#85607)
    Yet another example of a typical Slashdot You-Deserve-It response.

    The extent of your stupidity is frightening.

    Firstly, I can hide in the bushes on a sidewalk and secretly record passers-by. If someone is standing on their balcony having sex, I can videotape that as well (so long as it's in plain view).

    In the United States, you have the right to privacy where you might reasonably expect it. This includes your home, the trunk of your car, etc. It does not, however, describe a bubble that travels around with you protecting you wherever you go.

    The fact that the person being recorded in this instance was a public official only furthers the point. Courts have held time and time again that those who have by their own will become famous have less rights to privacy than normal citizens do. This is because there reasonable expectation of privacy goes down as their fame increases. The premise is basically the same in this case: The police officer cannot, while being paid by taxpayers, expect any form of privacy.

    I'd like to find the hookups the Mass. Supreme Court has, because they're smoking some good fucking crack. I hope very much this is appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court where it will no doubt be overturned.
    signature smigmature
  • The application of a wiretapping law to such things is ridiculous. Wiretapping legistlation is to protect people who have no possibility to be aware that they would be viewed or recorded, such as people who are in the privacy of their homes or offices. If I call up a cop and talk to him and record what he says, then I am guilty of illegal wiretapping.

    The same would apply if I had gone to a cop's house of office and performed the same activity. Again, they have a reasonable expectation of privacy, and thus should not be expected to be observed or recorded.

    Even undercover police, operating undercover, could have the same legislation used with a little stretching, as it is in the spirit of the law.

    However, if a police office pulls over another car, they are making an obvious presence, alerting everyone in the area to their activity. In any situation where you make a decided and obvious presence of yourself, you are now acting in a public capacity. It is no different than a public offical giving a speech or a military convoy rolling into my town. Those are obvious actions, and in the case for someone being harrassed without reason, it can be an embarrassing situation.

    Simply put, if the cops can pull me over in full view of everyone else, and they're testimony in court can decided immediately (often without other evidence) that I'm guily of obstructing justice or harrassing an office of the peace, then why can't I as a citizen, record my encounter with the police in that situation, whether they know it or not?

    Are we going to start arresting every person who records police raids that happen across their street because they didn't alert the police to the event?

  • I am a teacher at a local college, where I come across a large number of people every day. One particular instance that stands out in my mind is a current police officer who was talking about touching up his technical skills to get a higer paying position. In the course of conversation he said he felt no loyalty to the police department and would go to whatever company paid the most. He then said, "Hell, half the guys I work with are corrupt." Now, out of the mouth of a cop, I'm inclined to believe his statement, especially since we get along well and he will often tell me about some poor bastard that got screwed over by the cops that day.

    ---=-=-=-=-=-=---

  • by No Such Agency (136681) <<moc.liamg> <ta> <yakcamba>> on Saturday July 14, 2001 @05:48AM (#85614)
    Anyone interested in the legal and moral ramifications of this case should read "The Transparent Society" by David Brin. Brin's argument is an unpopular one here (total privacy hurts the little guy more than it benefits us, including legal strong encryption etc.) but he has very good points about public surveillance. He advocates UK-style street surveillance cameras, with the footage available to everyone and not just the police. Unless people have the ability to "watch the watchers" as well as they can watch us, abuses WILL occur.

    That said, IMO, This guy was pretty foolish, taking the tape to the police. On TV, "IA" (Internal Affairs) may look like they're out to get the beat cops for any little thing, but in reality the Blue Wall still thrives, and unless you have a good lawyer they will F**K you. Next time, take it to the PRESS! It may not be "just" but the spotlight of public attention might be the only way to force the police to respond appropriately.

  • by fleener (140714) on Saturday July 14, 2001 @04:41AM (#85620)
    People do not have an expectation of privacy in public places. That's why there are video cameras on police cruiser dashboards, on street corners and in stores, but not (legally) in bathrooms. To say people cannot tape record activity occuring in their own car and on public streets is, at best, asinine.

    The police are here to server us. They are agents of the people. The Massachusetts Supreme Court has made them agents of power and eliminated the one check-and-balance we had available to us for protection from abuse of power.

  • No way that they would. They do that and they are admitting discrimination. It is illegal to discriminate based on race/sex.
  • That, or get a CD copy of the cop's video tape ("My arrest, 7/14/2001").

    With the part that incriminates the cop conveniently edited out, of course.

    ---
  • by AntiNorm (155641) on Saturday July 14, 2001 @07:39AM (#85627)
    the cop's aren't recording you secretly. That's the difference.

    Not exactly. The problem is that not everybody knows of this police surveillance. Therefore, the (relatively few) people that don't know about it ARE being recorded secretly. It's like the Miranda case -- most people knew what their rights were when they were arrested, so it was assumed that everybody knew. But in this case, he didn't, and so he took it to court. Guess what? He won.

    ---
  • Driving on the roads IS NOT RIGHT, it is a PRIVELIGE you pay for...through the nose.

    If you meant this as sarcasm, you aimed it at the wrong state. Massachusetts is land of the toll roads. Yes, it is a privilege you pay for... and pay for... and keep paying. Then they raise the tolls because some morons couldn't figure out to the nearest billion dollars [bigdigsucks.com] how much it would cost to run a freeway underneath downtown boston.

  • by duffbeer703 (177751) on Saturday July 14, 2001 @07:44AM (#85640)
    You do not have any RIGHTS to privacy under the law, only a reasonable expectation of it.
  • by ckedge (192996) on Saturday July 14, 2001 @11:20AM (#85650) Journal

    All right, I'll bite:

    > The laws on the books say you can record public places on videotape, but you can not retain copies of audio.

    What's the purpose behind laws like that? If I can retain a "memory" of something observed in public, why the hell shouldn't I be allowed to retain a recording, video *or* audio?

    Sounds like a choice between black and white because no-one's got the balls to try and sort out the fine grey lines seperating everything. I hate that type of human stupidity.

  • by rchatterjee (211000) on Saturday July 14, 2001 @03:57AM (#85666) Homepage
    Being a nerd, remember getting mistreated by bullies back in school? Remember telling the teacher and being told you'll need some solid proof before any actions would be taken or being told to not be a "tattle-tale"? And remember that bitter taste when nothing was done to them? Well some bullies grow up to wear uniforms, and this decision basically takes away one of your ways of having proof should you be mistreated, thus opening the path for you again taste the bitterness of injustice.
  • by j_snare (220372) on Monday July 16, 2001 @07:19AM (#85676)
    Indeed. I've got a couple of friends that are cops, and one cop I ran into was amazingly helpful (even though he did give me a ticket). I eventually saw this cop while I was fighting a different ticket, and he was extremely helpful to me, since I hadn't been in the courthouse before.

    Unfortunately, I don't run into many of the "nice cops" out on the road. I've found that many of the cops in my area get pissed at me no matter how polite I am. Interestingly, I have found that many of the cops in this area (Georgia, USA) react better if I use a southern accent when I speak to them than using my normal (slightly northern) accent.
  • by xenocide2 (231786) on Saturday July 14, 2001 @06:56AM (#85684) Homepage
    If you didn't realize it, the Rodney King case was pointed out because it would have been illegal under the current system. The law prohibits all secret recordings, even those in public. The judge was pointing this out because he wasn't in favor it the ruling. Its called a "dissenting opinion;" something courts with multiple judges can only have.

    In fact, the article states that your point is exactly the defense Hyde tried to use. The 'people should have no expectation of privacy in public' defense, and he lost with it.

    Look for a showing of this case in your nearest US Supreme Court.

  • by EABinGA (253382) on Saturday July 14, 2001 @06:35AM (#85693)
    For those that would like an overview of the Recording Laws in the 50 states:

    http://www.rcfp.org/taping [rcfp.org]

    Also has links to the relevant state codes concerning this.

  • by Sarcasmooo! (267601) on Saturday July 14, 2001 @04:02AM (#85703)
    US residents that don't work in law enforcement are now 2nd class citizens. Whether FBI, IRS, local police, or other, the 'commoners' are prohibited from criticizing you [politechbot.com], identifying you to the public [politechbot.com], or recording your actions in the same public areas that you record theirs [citypaper.net].
  • by StressedEd (308123) <`ku.ca.lairepmi' `ta' `ecarg.je'> on Saturday July 14, 2001 @05:25AM (#85719) Homepage
    Perhaps in light of this your politzi will try to prosecute the people that recorded them "interrogating" Rodney King.... ....the law is an odd planet. Hmm.... Cameras-cameras everywhere....

    This remindes me of a missed opportunity.

    A friend of mine is making a film and they were practicing some of there scenes in Hyde Park which involved the use of BB guns (toys that fire plastic pellets).

    Now as the more astute of you may be aware, hand guns were made illegal over here a while ago and the police (rightly in my opinion) take a pretty hard line with threats to the public.

    So when someone phoned them and said "There's a man with orange hair shooting people in Hyde Park", what were they supposed to do?

    Well what they did was to send in a heavilly armed anti-terrorist-style unit, complete with helicopter to "take-down" these people who, by that time, had begun to play frisbee and were completely unaware that within the space of 10 seconds they would find there faces in the ground with guns pointed at them...

    If only they'd got that on film! It could have been great as part of the story line!

  • by ProfessorPuke (318074) on Saturday July 14, 2001 @04:33AM (#85731)
    Oh yes the ARE recording secretly. He was taping you from the minute the guy pulled over, and his first words to the suspect were NOT "To ensure your satisfaction, this traffic-stop will be monitored". Patrol cars never seem to have prominent signs warning of video cameras inside.

    The legal reason for that is that the wiretapping statute only applies to audio recordings, not video, so the police and the department stores can take all the pictures of you they want.
  • by janpod66 (323734) on Saturday July 14, 2001 @01:13PM (#85736)
    I'd also like to address the disgusting stereotype of police I have been reading around here. I'm friends with four police officers in Massachusetts, three of which I see on a weekly basis. All of them are nice people, and none of them abuse their power

    Well, then, as public officials performing a public function in accordance with prevailing laws and regulations, they should have no problem with being recorded in any form.

    The problem we have in society in relation to the police is that because we get a speeding ticket, we suddenly decide to foster a hatred for the person who gave it to us.

    No, the problem we have in US society is a escalation of violence and power. The police have too much power to make people's lives miserable, criminal convictions are often life-or-death issues, yet such power appears to be necessary because US society as a whole is so violent and disrespectful of the law.

    If you don't think there are enough methods to record police officers' actions, then rally your town to pay for every officer to wear a microphone. Just don't be surprised later if it turns out their job performance suffers.

    I'd much rather have them work by the book and be less effective than to have a very efficient police force that operates without checks. Have you been in countries where people have traded freedom for security? I have, and it's not pretty. And the US is moving more and more in that direction.

    Giving police and the legal system ever more powers is the direct route to a police state. It's a short-term fix for what is a more fundamental problem in US society. Crime needs to be attacked at the root; that is: the US finally needs to get its act together and address its profound social problems. Then the US wouldn't need all-powerful police and harsh punishments anymore.

  • by gd23ka (324741) on Saturday July 14, 2001 @03:47AM (#85737) Homepage
    Well, what do you think will happen? They'll confiscate the device and wipe the recording. It's also doubtful whether they will give it back to you and they'll probably also feel the need to teach a lesson to an uppity ci-villian.
  • by Waffle Iron (339739) on Saturday July 14, 2001 @07:28AM (#85738)
    The court's observation is that the law applies to the cops to. I LIKE that idea. LOTS. If you want to place cops in a different category, not held to the same laws as you and me, then your line of reasoning is the way to do it.

    The issue isn't whether you or I put the cops in a different category. The big problem is that many cops see fit to place themselves in a different category. In the real world full of like-minded cops, they have little to fear.

    How many times has a cop car without its lights on blow by you doing 90MPH on the freeway? Have you ever seen one of these guys pulled over for speeding?

  • by the_brat_king (443955) on Saturday July 14, 2001 @08:34AM (#85741)
    It's true that in Minnesota a sticker on your WINDSHIELD or Driverside front-most window is illegal (visual obstruction), it's also illegal in Minnesota to have any object hanging from your rear view mirror, or mounted to your dashboard (I saw a State trooper confiscate a radar detector yesterday because of the "obstruction" law); but, on any of the rear windows, or passenger side front window, such a sticker can be posted LEGALLY. Also, Minnesota is a single-party consent state (meaning only one party needs to be aware of a recording device, hence there's no need for the obnoxious sticker). I monitor (with audio equipment) everything that is said inside my car, and -with video and audio- everything that occcurs inside my apartment. These tapes have come in handy; most recently dealing with a case between myself, a state inspector, and the property management.
  • by canthusus (463707) on Saturday July 14, 2001 @03:53AM (#85772)
    So you say "I am recording this". They confiscate the recorder they can see. You have evidence of that violation recorded on the other recorder, that they didn't see!
  • by bartlett's (465717) on Saturday July 14, 2001 @04:08AM (#85778) Homepage
    So the guy takes a recording of the incident to the police, and they arrest and try him for it. In addition to the fact that people need to be careful about secretly recording anyone, there's another big lesson here: if you have a dispute with the police, you need to get yourself a lawyer. And fast.

    Don't fool around and try to handle things on your own, or the cops will hang you out to dry.

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