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Police Officers Seek Right Not To Be Recorded 1123

Posted by kdawson
from the ain't-nobody's-bidness-if-we-do dept.
linzeal writes "When the police act as though cameras were the equivalent of guns pointed at them, there is a sense in which they are correct. Cameras have become the most effective weapon that ordinary people have to protect against and to expose police abuse. And the police want it to stop. Judges, juries, and legislatures support the police overwhelmingly on this issue, with only a few cases where those accused of 'shooting' the cops being vindicated through the courts."
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Police Officers Seek Right Not To Be Recorded

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  • by dward90 (1813520) on Thursday June 03, 2010 @12:33PM (#32446282)
    While I'm sure some(most) of this sentiment is created by media exaggeration and selective reporting, cops have the persona of themselves being above the law.

    A movement to remove recording them will only serve to propagate that idea, and remove one of the only tools that civilians have to combat any police abuse.
  • Sure (Score:5, Interesting)

    by SoupGuru (723634) on Thursday June 03, 2010 @12:34PM (#32446302)
    And I'm sure getting rid of probable cause makes their jobs easier too. I guess I don't want their jobs to be easy. I want their jobs to be really fucking hard. That's what you get along with a badge and a gun... scrutiny. At least, that's what should happen but rarely does.

    After all, if you have nothing to hide Mr. Office Sir, what's the big deal?
  • by gestalt_n_pepper (991155) on Thursday June 03, 2010 @12:36PM (#32446370)

    Take away American Idol, fast food and cheap antidepressants and other entertainment psychoactives and you'll see an uprising. We're a prozac and adderal nation now. How tolerant would we be of this nonsense if that didn't exist?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 03, 2010 @12:41PM (#32446458)

    All states with heavy Democratic majorities in both Executive and Legislative branches. Still more Hope and Change...

  • by scharkalvin (72228) on Thursday June 03, 2010 @12:42PM (#32446492) Homepage

    Eventually such laws will end up before the supreme court in a first amendment (freedom of speech) test.
    Then (hopefully) it will fail the constitutionality test.

  • by Monkeedude1212 (1560403) on Thursday June 03, 2010 @12:44PM (#32446518) Journal

    No kidding.

    FTFA

    In at least three states, it is now illegal to record any on-duty police officer.

    [...]

    Drew is being prosecuted for illegal recording, a Class I felony punishable by 4 to 15 years in prison.

    [...]

    Hyde used his recording to file a harassment complaint against the police. After doing so, he was criminally charged.

    And their defense is

    The police are basing this claim on a ridiculous reading of the two-party consent surveillance law - requiring all parties to consent to being taped.

    Does that mean you can break in and rob a store - and if there is security footage, whoever owns the camera is going to jail for 4 years?

    Can I write a legal disclaimer that simply by looking at my face you agree to allow me to record footage of you, and post this disclaimer on my T-shirt?

  • Re:Make it obvious (Score:2, Interesting)

    by grub (11606) <slashdot@grub.net> on Thursday June 03, 2010 @12:44PM (#32446528) Homepage Journal

    Sure, then you just get it confiscated and the footage mysteriously disappears.

    I've been thinking that it'd be neat to have a wireless camera which streams wireless and encrypted to the actual recording device. One person could have the camera while a friend nearby has the recordings save in his pocket.
  • by linzeal (197905) on Thursday June 03, 2010 @12:44PM (#32446534) Homepage Journal
    This over the ear video unit [go.com] is being used by some San Jose, CA cops after they beat the living crap [youtube.com] out of a Vietnamese foreign exchange student who is suing for 6 million dollars now.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 03, 2010 @12:45PM (#32446562)

    From TFA: The legal justification for arresting the "shooter" rests on existing wiretapping or eavesdropping laws, with statutes against obstructing law enforcement sometimes cited.

    The 1st justification seems a somewhat convenient convergence of privacy laws with the intention of the police case, about the first time it's been argued in the police's favour. Given that they're usually opposed, how's that going to sit with the court? The second: Is that even an argument? If the objective is the truth, can addtional video evidence that hasn't been censored or tampered with in some way be argued to be a bad thing? There is a long record of cases being blown by the prosecution or law enforcement restricting the availability of evidence that is not the the benefit of the case they are making. How, if CCTV or police surveillance is to be admitted can we argue that similar evidence collected by a member of the public can not?

  • by prakslash (681585) on Thursday June 03, 2010 @12:50PM (#32446672)
    Here is how a police officer relative of mine explained this:
    (Please dont mod me down, I am just a messenger)

    When you point a camera, it is not just a passive device recording events. Instead, it can actually influence the events that it is recording. A witness at a crime scene may be hesitant to say exactly what he or she thinks because he knows the neighbors may see it. People may run away or refuse to come forward because they are afraid that they will be identified later on television and thus could become the victims of a crime. A lot of things happen in police encounters and sometimes a camera can have a chilling effect on the proceedings. Sometimes the influence of camera presence can benefit society by keeping police abuses in check. Sometimes it can be a harm.

    Personally, I think the police officers only have their own benefit in mind when they ask for a ban on cameras.

  • by www.sorehands.com (142825) on Thursday June 03, 2010 @12:51PM (#32446690) Homepage

    In the Mass. Supreme Court case, there was a conviction for a person recording a police stop. The finding that it was illegal under Mass. law was upheld, but one of the comments from the Supreme Court stated there should be an exception and recording of police on duty should be allowed to be recorded.

  • Re:Why? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Spatial (1235392) on Thursday June 03, 2010 @12:54PM (#32446758)
    It damages the credibility and prestige of the police. Important for a number of reasons.

    Of course, ignoring genuine abuses will do far greater damage in the long run. A few bad eggs is one thing, but if you protect them it calls the whole system into question.
  • Double standard (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Locke2005 (849178) on Thursday June 03, 2010 @12:57PM (#32446806)
    And yet when I complained the school district was illegally audio and video taping my daughter on the bus without our knowledge or consent, their response was "Oh no, that's perfectly legal -- everybody does it!"
  • by EmagGeek (574360) <gterich@ao[ ]om ['l.c' in gap]> on Thursday June 03, 2010 @01:00PM (#32446868) Journal

    "When somebody invokes the authority of law enforcement, they assume the responsibility, too."

    That is where you are wrong. Police are more or less unaccountable for their actions, because it usually boils down to their word against someone else, and their word always wins.

    The exception is when the brutality is video taped and becomes evidence. Then and only then are the police given a paid vacation and a slap on the wrist. These laws only seek to give Police carte blanch to rule by the fist, and is but one more step along the road to tyrannical despotism.

  • Re:But... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by v1 (525388) on Thursday June 03, 2010 @01:06PM (#32446976) Homepage Journal

    they obviously have something to hide, but it's probably more of a fear of what might happen. I doubt many cops go into a situation intending to behave illegally. There's so many laws that if taken literally can make their jobs really hard to do. I'm not really defending the cops on this, just saying I can somewhat relate and see their problem with it.

    That being said, I'd personally like to see a federal law or constitutional amendment etc that explicitly gives people the right to record (audio, video) anyone on public property or their own property without their consent. Including cops. And without any requirement for you to notify them they are/may be recorded. If you're in the public, or you're in someone else's private, you should have no expectation of privacy, outside certain limits. (bathroom for example)

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 03, 2010 @01:07PM (#32446998)

    The problem with the dash cams though is that all the power is still with the police. They have the upper hand and the video. If the video is bad for them, "it got lost" or there was an "equipment failure."

    I'd argue that there is never a reason for a police officer to beat a suspect. Throw them down, jump on them, and cuff them. It does not require multiple people beating on a suspect to get compliance.

    Look at the UMD tape from earlier this year. Maybe the person was doing something/said something. You can't tell. The police are within their right to knock him over/thrown him into a wall and jump on him with cuffs. Instead, multiple officers beat him with batons while he was on the ground. That's unacceptable and w/o the citizen video would probably have resulted nothing happening to anyone in the police department.

  • Try this (Score:2, Interesting)

    by SolarStorm (991940) on Thursday June 03, 2010 @01:09PM (#32447022)

    We live in a big brother society. Everywhere you go, you are on camera. My city just installed cameras at every intersection, stating it was to help traffic flow analysis, and oh yeah it will also issue speeding an red light photo tickets. Now we are a small city so this was easy to do, but so far, traffic patterns seem the same, but there are a lot more flashes at the intersections now. But more importantly, did you consent to being filmed? I can even pull up the AMA website and watch and capture video from some of these video feeds. I dont remember allowing myself to be filmed.

    Walk into a store, look up, again you are being captured on video. Did you consent to that?

    Now try this, take your video camera, put it on your shoulder and walk into the local police station... Or even stand outside and take a picture. Google was able to do this all over north america, but I will bet if you stand out there filming for 10 min, you will be asked to leave.

    At some point we have given up our right, if we ever really had one, to not be filmed without our consent. At one point, it might have been because we were still reasonably anonymous. Now with a few searches through facebook, I can get an awful lot of pictures to cross reference with my video.

    And now the police are saying they should be exempt from all of this video. Fact is we live in a video captured society, and it is getting worse. I remember reading in a novel about a society that had every moment of their lives recored. This was held in a secure private data facility, and only accessed if a crime was committed. I see us heading in that direction.

    Lastly, the police have a hard enough time keeping up with catching the criminals. I am on the side of if you are doing nothing wrong, what does it matter. That is why I dont worry about the store video camera, im not stealing. Yes partial editing or videos can be used, but then they are also taken in context.

    I am sure...
    Police arrest suspect.
    Suspect strikes officer.
    bystander starts filming.
    police strike back, wrestle suspect to ground and handcuff.
    Suspect gets video and charges police.

    Would a judger really not take into account that the video started 1/2 way through an incident? And if the media started to sensationalize then its time to charge the media!

    In fact in this situation, the police could turn around and use the video to support thier argument that they used "reasonable force". UNLESS they decided on a little payback for the the first hit. But then the police themselfs have sunk to the level of a street gang.

    We live in a recorded society. Learn to make home movies or really good disguises.

  • Re:FUCK THE POLICE! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by 2obvious4u (871996) on Thursday June 03, 2010 @01:27PM (#32447366)
    Well for starters it is a cultural reference. Second even good cops are not there to protect "us". True all of the blame can't be put on the police officers that enforce the law, since some idiot had to write it first. But arresting children for schoolyard brawls is not protecting anyone, it is ruining their lives. Arresting drug users who were otherwise productive members of society is ruining their lives. Stealing people's cars because an idiot passenger of theirs had drugs on them isn't protecting anyone. Sitting on the side of the highway taxing people at a whim isn't protecting anyone.

    Police do more harm than good in society. The only good thing they do is act as a deterrent for really bad behavior. It is nice knowing that after someone murders me (which the police won't be able to stop) that IF that person is caught they may spend 10 years in jail. So they at least serve a purpose as a deterrent. Then again all that I've ever been on the "good" side of the law was when my house was robbed and they filled out a police report for insurance purposes. The time before that when my parents house was robbed, they accused me of doing it because when the officer questioned me I didn't look him in the eye. Ass holes.

    I watched half my friends in High School serve time in Juvee for drug possession, they were honor roll students and turned out just fine. The cops do nothing but harass. Can't even jump off a freaking bridge into the river without the police showing up to harass people.

    You know a lot of it isn't the officer's fault, I get that, but for God's sake sometimes its better to just leave people alone. I haven't even gotten into all the dirty shit they do, just the legit things that don't make sense.

    Really if you don't have money to defend yourself the entire law enforcement system walks all over you. I've watched people all around me get abused by the system, luckily for me I've kept my head down and all my courtroom experience is for speeding. The poor people in the courtroom, they are clueless. The entire system is set up to get you to pay your fine as quickly as possible, the forms even threaten you with jail time if you're found guilty - for a speeding ticket. You've got to have a lot of balls and character to see an invalid ticket to the end. They threaten and harass you throughout the entire process, they delay hearings hoping you'll give up. It is a total sham. Police are modern highway robbers and thugs. Occasionally they'll hit you with a lesser charge to make it look like they are being the good guy, but they never just let you off. They always have to be proven right, even with minor charges.

    Hell they even arrest good Samaritans, try to find the owner of one of the bait cars to prevent auto theft and actually enter the car and you're busted for auto theft. Doesn't matter that you called the police 4 times asking them to investigate the strange car left in front of your apartment.

    So when I say "FUCK THE POLICE" I mean it. I have a lot of resentment for what I've seen as a systemic abuse of power and lack of common sense when dealing with the public and especially the socially challenged.

    BTW - Since you think the police are their to protect you, if they ever knock on your door, be sure to let them right in. If they happen to see an antique shotgun, prescription pills, alcohol with children present, porography of 18 year old girls, you name it they will no longer be trying to protect you. Also when they question you at an accident, because you had a rolling stop at a stop sign, or the most common speeding (which they can apparently tell just by looking). Tell me that they are there to protect you. The police protect through fear and intimidation, nothing else. There are no carrots, only sticks, and sticks with minimum sentences, because judges and juries can't decide that a crime was an accident, but still a crime and should only have 6 months instead of 20 years. So yeah, FUCK THE POLICE.

    Oh, and you be
  • Obvious thing to do (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Locke2005 (849178) on Thursday June 03, 2010 @01:27PM (#32447380)
    At the beginning of every encounter with law enforcement, clearly utter the simple phrase "You are being recorded." (Regardless of whether or not you actually have a recording device.) If they continue the encounter, they are obviously consenting to being recorded, and you are obviously not in violation of any wiretap laws.

    It would be interesting to see if these states slap the same penalties on someone for making a "nannycam" video of their babysitter and catching them abusing their child -- obviously the babysitter has an expectation of privacy when they are in someone's home slapping an infant around!
  • Anecdote (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Theodore (13524) on Thursday June 03, 2010 @01:30PM (#32447470)

    If you ride the Amtrak Southwest Chief from LA to Chicago, and are a white/hispanic male in coach, you will be stopped in Albuquerque, and your belongings searched (because you're obviously smuggling meth).
    I had recently, just before my trip, read a bit on slashdot about people being stopped in Amtrak terminals for taking pictures, and being an artist, was duely pissed at that.
    At Albuquerque, there were a couple of rail cops who stopped all of the above mentioned groups coming off the train, I was respectful, addressed him as sir, kept my hands in plain sight...
    so when the officer asked if I had any weapons, I jokingly said "just a camera"...
    Spent the next 15 minutes handcuffed, sitting on a rail with his partner looking like he was ready to kick me in the teeth while the first officer meticulously went through my baggage.

    If a picture is worth a thousand words, a vid of that should have been worth a few million dollars.
    Instead I'm left with a funny story to tell people one of the reasons when they ask, why I don't explicitly trust cops.
    (I do know some good cops, lots of them, but there's always "that guy" that fucks it up for them).

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 03, 2010 @01:33PM (#32447508)

    most places have a sign that say by entering this store you agree to be videotaped.

  • by Dishevel (1105119) * on Thursday June 03, 2010 @01:38PM (#32447600)

    Hmmmm . . . an armed revolution because the police don't want to be videotaped.

    No. But a revolution because elected officials do not represent the citizens, because the courts and politicians support the police being able to secret violate your rights, because unions and big business get to make law, because we are 13 TRILLION dollars in debt and all they want to do is spend more money on government / union programs, because everytime you bitch about their spending they threaten to cut infrastructure and police and firemen not union contracts and new cars for the politicians.

    Look at the whole picture.

  • Re:Double standard (Score:5, Interesting)

    by MBGMorden (803437) on Thursday June 03, 2010 @01:45PM (#32447714)

    In all fairness, are you in one of the states mentioned? The article mentions that this is illegal in only a handful of states.

    Mine's not listed, and I personally have taken to rolling a tape whenever I'm pulled over. That specifically was prompted by a police officer accusing me of "not stopping at the red light for long enough". I asked him if I had come to a complete stop, and he admitted then that I had, but it hadn't been for "long enough" (and he accused me of "cutting him off", apparently because I had turned left before he got to the opposing side and stopped himself. my guess is this was the real reason I was stopped).

    When we got into court and I clarified with the judge that I only had to come to a complete stop at the sign, and that there was no stopped time requirement, the officer claimed that I never came to a complete stop at all, contradicting what he himself had said during the actual traffic stop.

    Luckily the judge dropped the ticket anyhow, but that one incident has made me overly cautious about the police. Sure, they're good to have around when the shit hits the fan, but the shit just doesn't hit that fan too often. The other 95% of the time they're basically just harassing the public for fines to support their salaries.

    Then there was the other time that my brother and I had a (very nervous and panicky) police officer pull his gun on us at a traffic stop because he saw gun cases in the back seat of the truck. We'd been duck hunting. We're pulling a jon-boat with a duck-blind obviously attached to it. We're both obviously dressed in full camo. To anyone with half a brain, you know there's going to be guns in this truck before you even get to it - and this idiot totally freaks out like someone is going to kill him because he spots gun cases in the back seat (which were being legally transported, cased, and unloaded, as per the law). No ticket there, but I don't like having a gun waved in my face because the rookie deputy is jittery either.

  • by morgan_greywolf (835522) on Thursday June 03, 2010 @01:48PM (#32447782) Homepage Journal

    The problem is, Joe 40 year old voter doesn't watch YouTube videos, might read a few liberal or conservative blogs, and watches lots of TV.

    [citation needed]. Seriously. YouTube is very, very mainstream, and virtually every single one of my non-geek-friends regularly watches videos on YouTube and most probably watch YouTube videos even more than I do. (And it may surprise you, but I'm almost 40. Now get off my lawn.)

    You're right about mainstream America watching lots of TV, but even TV is increasingly showing things like police brutality more and more. It's definitely on the mainstream news channels.

    But voters are increasingly aware of the problems surrounding police brutality and have been demanding action from politicians for years.

  • by geminidomino (614729) on Thursday June 03, 2010 @01:57PM (#32447934) Journal

    And if he opts not to use it because it shows that the defendant isn't guilty and only the cops/DA have access to it, the defense is fucked.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 03, 2010 @02:12PM (#32448160)

    http://www.cuapb.org/HomePage.asp

    Communities United Against Police Brutality is a non profit organization in Minnesota that has a whole pile of listings from people that have either died or been abused in the hands of Police. I am pretty sure all of the people listed on their site and the families of those affected would have something to say about this ridiculous idea.

  • No, this is bad (Score:3, Interesting)

    by AnAdventurer (1548515) on Thursday June 03, 2010 @02:28PM (#32448444)
    I RTFA and this is really bad. It seems that since they only want to prosecute video where the police office in question is doing something that makes him look bad this is the reverse of "equal protection" and as such will create a rift between concerned and active citizens and police. In other times and places, this is referred to as a "police state". I don't think it could hold up as Constitutional, but given the actions of the courts in the last 9 years I just don't even know.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 03, 2010 @02:29PM (#32448472)

    For those questioning why this is such an issue. take a look at this headline in South Florida "2 ex-Hollywood cops arrested in video frame-up case"
    MiamiHerald.com: News 13 hours ago Two former Hollywood police officers were arrested Wednesday and charged with doctoring a police report in 2009 after one of them crashed into a vehicle of an alleged drunken driver.

    while this is the minority, it's exactly this type of crap that justifies why we should be capturing this beloved moments on video.....

  • Since I've been riding a bike for more than just a few years now, I've frequently come this close \~\ to getting killed more than two handful of times. So my idea is some new technology. Here's how it works:

    For cars, particularly for police cruisers, they have a dome mounted on their roof. It has 4 points of view from it. This goes to several things: A) a recorder that records everything that unit has been through through its shift, B) a computer which scans license plates as they fly by and checks DMV records for warrents or other offenses. This then pipes that info to the display in the cruiser which displays the front/rear view cameras. On that display the car's license plates which are offenders have different color coded frames, varying according to the level of bad. (A more expensive version is that of a HUD that projects the framing colors of the license plates on the actual windshield in real time so the officers don't even have to look away). C) Attached to the officers a lapel mic which sends back info to the recorder so all communications is recorded (and no more of that crappy lo quality police radio stuff).

    Similar units can be mounted on motorcycles and freeway signs.


    There are MANY reasons for this, primarily those such as cars flying by so fast that I can't get a license plate, just a rough time estimate and description of the vehicle. So at some point that car should pass something with such a camera and have it recorded. Or how about that time when a nissan sentra broke the double yellow line of the car pool to get in front of me @ ~ 6 AM. In doing so they kicked up a piece of metal that looked like a wide L bracket made of heavy metal. That which flew by my head not more than just inches. A little to the left and my head would have come off. Yeah, I remember you CA license plate 2VEH1** after 7 years.

    So for people like me, we have a way to get those who almost kill us on a daily basis. But, for the rest of the population, you have a way to protect AND defend yourself. I heard that the City of Compton is trying to get their own Police Department again. Who would think that's a bad idea right? Well, it was disbanded for a reason http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Compton_Police_Department_(California) [wikipedia.org]

    Who watches the watchmen?
  • by clone53421 (1310749) on Thursday June 03, 2010 @02:45PM (#32448730) Journal

    Eh, revert to cryptic statements and remember your right to remain silent... don’t admit that you are recording, but don’t deny it either...

    The camera in their car is recording everything.

    You didn’t say that you were recording them.

    Simply that they were being recorded.

    You just wanted to remind them that they are being recorded.

    Their camera is recording, right?

    Simply evade the question by pretending to be talking about their camera. You know... the recording they’re still thinking they can just make go away if anything happens that would show them in a bad light. If they know they are being recorded, they can’t claim your recording is an infringement of their privacy...

    Of course, I live in a single-party consent state so I wouldn’t tell them I was recording in the first place.

  • by clone53421 (1310749) on Thursday June 03, 2010 @02:55PM (#32448908) Journal

    Those cameras in their cars are never used to show cop misconduct. The video disappears.

    It’s their video and they won’t use it to self-incriminate. What did you really expect?

    Good luck forcing them to yield the video as evidence. It’s theoretically possible, but nearly impossible.

  • by Angus McNitt (542101) on Thursday June 03, 2010 @02:56PM (#32448918)
    Well, the don't want camera's off. I'm sure they would be very adamant about that. Just, they want control of the cameras. CCTV, DashCams, even the new "Officer Safety Cameras" that they want to start deploying in PA, are all controlled by the police. All footage is recorded and managed by the same departments that record it. So they are monitored themselves. Not a bad concept, ie Internal Affairs, except for the fact that there is _no_ oversight of this. Up until now, this has not been too greatly called into question, as citizens have taken their own video and stills and provided third party documentation. So if a police officer steps across the line, that footage can find it's way to the media/youtube.

    As a local editorial said: "Ever try to subpoena the footage from a DashCam? We have 8 times. Of those eight attempts, 3 actual subpoenas were issued. However, in each instance the tape had been 'erased' for reuse. However, in one of the instances, the police were able to produce a DashCam tape that was 3 and a half years old as evidence. When questioned as why they had a 3 and a half year old tape but could not produce a 2 month old record, their response was 'the older tape had been misplaced and as such was not erased on schedule'."

    On another note, how do you know if you took a picture of an undercover cop? Shout out "Everyone who is an undercover cop, raise your hand?" Yup, that should work.
  • by tobiah (308208) on Thursday June 03, 2010 @03:12PM (#32449144)

    Everyone is aware of the police car cams used in traffic stops, but many also are equipped with voice recorders which they turn on at the beginning of every encounter. Some even have personal video recorders. These recordings may be obtained through a freedom-of-information inquiry, although the departments may resist or deny they exist.
    I think a reasonable law would be to make any recording equally available, which is implied if you are prosecuted (defendant's right to view evidence). Same with the unavoidable recordings that are made when calling customer service, both parties should have access to that recording. Also if someone is recording you, you should be allowed to make your own recording of that encounter. The few times on a customer service call where I announced I might also be recording the conversation "for quality assurance purposes", I was transferred immediately to the completely freaked out boss. I mean really, every conversation he's ever had at work was recorded, and suddenly it's scary?

  • Ahh, Rampart (Score:5, Interesting)

    by edremy (36408) on Thursday June 03, 2010 @04:32PM (#32450264) Journal
    I was in the CA National Guard during the Rodney King riots and was stationed in Rampart district. I had a number of local citizens (non-gang-bangers) come up and thank me, not for protecting them from the rioters but from the police reprisals. At the time I wondered about it, having seen the corruption investigations later I began to understand.

    There were a huge number of scumbags in Rampart- a lot were wearing gang colors, others police uniforms.

  • by cdrguru (88047) on Thursday June 03, 2010 @05:45PM (#32451202) Homepage

    You absolutely can have in-car video subpoenaed as part of a trial. Your lawyer does it and there is no way it can be denied. Losing the video is pretty clear at trial that something hinky is going on. There are rules about how in-car video has to be kept. My company deals with police archiving in-car video for this very reason.

    Traffic court without a lawyer? Forget about it - nobody wants to deal with that and you would be correct.

    Submitting your own video record is going to be problematic because there is no presumption (or even requirement) how this video has been handled. Who exactly would be available to testify that the video hasn't been altered? You would need a video forensic expert to be on hand and there would need to be documentation about the chain of custody of the video, just as for any other piece of evidence. Not having that pretty much means it would be excluded.

    So if you have a video of police misconduct you need to get proper documentation and have witnesses that can testify about the chain of custody and handling of the video. Best to have a neutral third party take the video from the camera and put it on a DVD or something where is cannot be altered. And they need to mark the DVD and be prepared to testify that it is the DVD they made.

  • by MstrFool (127346) on Thursday June 03, 2010 @06:33PM (#32451834)

    This is already the reality in many places. What would be nice is if we could also do it back to the people monitoring us. It's already unbalanced in that they don't face the same penalties we do, but to then add in a law forbidding the gathering of evidence of abuse and still taking only their word on it? Doesn't sound like a a reasonable thing. Then add in to it that the police are filming you, and if they don't like what the vid shows they have the ability to vanish it, and seldom face any action for it. Yea, some get nailed if they do it too much and too many people find out, but with all the horror stories out there about abuse from police and evidence that vanishes, wouldn't it be nice to have more evidence? Police say to me, if you have nothing to hide, then you have nothing to fear, so I now say to them. If you have nothing to hide, why do you fear?

  • by demonlapin (527802) on Thursday June 03, 2010 @06:33PM (#32451838) Homepage Journal
    And, as has been pointed out by numerous good cops who have kept their mouth shut (and as demonstrated in American Gangster near the beginning), if you really do get into a bad situation, you never know who else is going to be out on patrol to respond to your "officer needs assistance" call...
  • by Hotawa Hawk-eye (976755) on Thursday June 03, 2010 @07:49PM (#32452660)
    If I had the authority to throw people in jail, to write them tickets that would cost them hundreds or thousands of dollars on my say-so (see the discussion about the Ohio Supreme Court decision about speeding tickets), and to use physical (or perhaps even deadly) force to restrain people if in my opinion they were committing a crime? I'd be okay with my work duties being captured by video cameras.

    I know it's cliched ... but with great power comes great responsibility. Recording the on-the-job behavior of the police seems like a reasonable amount of responsibility to balance out their significant amount of power.
  • by BetterSense (1398915) on Thursday June 03, 2010 @11:13PM (#32454148)
    look at the carnage caused by a few relatively talentless nutballs out there. Remember the DC "snipers"? That was two, unskilled and relatively dumb dudes in a white van, but it was enough to captivate the media and terrorize a whole city. Imagine that in every city in america. Continuously. If there was ever any kind of Fight-club style, pseudo-organized armed domestic insurrection it could be extremely effective in short order. The ammo box remains effective, it is just dormant.
  • by adolf (21054) <flodadolf@gmail.com> on Friday June 04, 2010 @03:10AM (#32455286) Journal

    Disclaimer: I install these systems as part of my income.

    According to some Federal statute that I can't be bothered to look up right now, an officer's use of an in-car camera must be indicated by a light. What light? Where?

    In one county I work for, it's a bright yellow light behind the grill of the car. If the light is on, the system is recording.

    In another, it's part of the camera: A bright, green LED that shines through the windshield whenever the system is recording.

    In the latter case, most (perhaps all) of the deputies have placed black tape over the light and insist that the law doesn't apply to them.

    FYI, FWIW, etc, so on, and so forth.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 04, 2010 @03:49AM (#32455484)
    it should haso work in reverse: if they don't have anything to hide...
  • by Jedi Alec (258881) on Friday June 04, 2010 @05:26AM (#32455994)

    Europeans don't even allow you to record and publish murderers and criminals.

    Yes, god fucking forbid we protect the rights of those who are still presumed to be innocent. Or aren't you referring to the fact that we disallow the publishing of names and faces of folks when they get arrested?

    Try recording a police officer in Europe doing something unflattering and posting that video on YouTube; you'll get prosecuted for invasion of privacy.

    Well, yes, the same thing happens if you film *me* and do the same. One of our civil liberties is privacy, even in public places. You don't get to record me without my permission and vice versa.

    In Europe, they're effectively already gone, but the people don't even notice.

    Wow...and you base this on what exactly? My free speech seems to be working just fine. I get to do a lot of stuff you guys can't even dream about. The only thing I can't have is a gun and that's historically something nobody but the 'Merkins gives a shit about anyway.

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