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US Justice Dept Defends Right To Record Police 306

Posted by samzenpus
from the watching-the-watchers dept.
Fluffeh writes "In recent times, it seems many Police Departments believe that recording them doing their work is an act of war with police officers, destroying the tapes, phones or cameras while arresting the folks doing it. But in a surprising twist, the U.S. Justice Department has sent letter (PDF) to attorneys for the Baltimore Police Department — who have been quite heavy handed in enforcing their 'Don't record me bro!' mantra. The letter contains an awful lot of lawyer babble and lists many court cases and the like, although some sections are surprisingly clear: 'Policies should prohibit officers from destroying recording devices or cameras and deleting recordings or photographs under any circumstances. In addition to violating the First Amendment, police officers violate the core requirements of the Fourteenth Amendment procedural due process clause when they irrevocably deprived individuals of their recordings without first providing notice and an opportunity to object.' There is a lot more and it certainly seems like a firm foothold in the right direction."
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US Justice Dept Defends Right To Record Police

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  • About time (Score:5, Insightful)

    by honestmonkey (819408) on Thursday May 17, 2012 @07:17PM (#40035969) Journal
    About goddamn time we get a voice of reason and someone "higher up" on our side. Not that it'll make a damn bit of difference. "Protect and Serve" is a joke. Cops don't care and won't care. I imagine the mantra from cops now will be "What photos? I never saw any."
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Isaac-Lew (623)
      Response: "The photos that the defendant automatically copied to (insert webhost/cloudhost here)"
    • Re:About time (Score:4, Insightful)

      by SwedishPenguin (1035756) on Thursday May 17, 2012 @09:57PM (#40037149)

      I came across this about a week ago: http://greece.greekreporter.com/2012/05/11/more-than-half-of-police-officers-voted-for-neo-nazi-party/ [greekreporter.com]
      It says that half of the Greek police force voted for the neo-nazis. I realize that this is only one datapoint and it's in Greece specifically, but I think it's an international phenomenon that I have long suspected: the people who are attracted to the policing profession tend to have somewhat fascistoid tendencies. I'm sure there are some great cops out there who became a cop because they wanted to help people, but there also seems to a ton of bad apples within the police force, regardless of country. Of course police violence can't entirely be blamed on the officers, the politicians and the higher-ups set the policies that enable such bad behavior. I think Norway and the UK have the right idea - don't allow officers to carry around guns in their everyday work, I think this simple measure could deter some of the people attracted to the profession for its monopoly on legal violence.

      • Re:About time (Score:5, Informative)

        by IonOtter (629215) on Thursday May 17, 2012 @10:50PM (#40037479) Homepage

        I don't think law enforcement-in general-is prone to fascism. Fascism is a political/social ideology of extreme patriotism, such that nothing the nation does can be wrong.

        I would say that law enforcement is prone to totalitarianism, wherein the populace is strictly controlled in every single aspect of their lives.

        This may or may not be a predisposed condition of law enforcement, as in "they were always like that"? Rather, I suspect it is a product of the environment that most law enforcement exists.

        Law enforcement is not a 90-10 job, where 90% of the time you're bored out of your skull, and 10% crapping your pants in fear. It's more of a 60--20-40 job, where 60% of the time you're not in danger, but busy as Hell, 20% in actual danger, and 40% trying to catch up on paperwork. Yes, that's 120%, which means most law enforcement is running on a 20% deficit of time. Your finest days are when you can actually go home, on time, with no paperwork hanging over your head.

        This cultivates a very dangerous mentality of "Leave me the fuck alone, OR ELSE!". And because all of the other officers are in the same boat, this can foment a culture of totalitarianism, not out of a desire for convenience, but out of the struggle to merely keep one's head above water.

        That politicians and the public do not want to provide sufficient warm bodies to reduce the workload on the overall force, only makes the situation worse. You get a feedback loop that only gets worse and worse, until you have officers who have gone beyond thinking "Hitler may have had a good idea," to "This is how I am going to do it!"

        Is this acceptable? No.
        Is this excusable? No.

        But it is an explanation of a problem, and that means it can be fixed.

        • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Friday May 18, 2012 @01:03AM (#40038201)

          City police are only one of many police forces in the US. There are plenty of others out there, many that offer better jobs in terms of less danger and more pay. For example if you've ever been around non-military federal government buildings, you'll find they are guarded by police, not some mysterious quasi-military force or something. That's right, the security guards at the CIA for example are police, uniformed ones in fact.

          Well needless to say, those people have to be good. Not only do they need to be vigilant in their job, but they'd better be good at being respectful to people at well. The CIA is not going to be amused at all if one of their security cops assaults their analysts or case officers or something. However for that there are compensations. Nobody is very likely to actually try anything there, your on the job danger is very low, same as pretty much any other office worker. You get to deal with people who are generally nice to you all the time, not people who are hostile, crazy, on drugs, etc.

          So that also is part of it. The best police are able to get better jobs with better agencies. Those agencies can afford to be more selective about who they hire. That leaves less talent for regular city police.

        • Re:About time (Score:4, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 18, 2012 @03:12AM (#40038777)

          I'm a police officer in England, and from my experience the fault is not with the officers. I'm not saying everyone is a saint - there are certainly some bad officers out there - but the problem in terms of revealing such behaviour mainly lies with the higher-ups. I'm biased, of course, but hear me out.

          When there are incidents involving officers violating the rights of suspects, the higher-ups don't want to hear about it. It looks bad on their report, and it makes the force look bad if/when it gets in the media. In fact, the organisation of the whole system makes it exceedingly difficult to be a whistle-blower. Reporting such things will make you very unpopular - it's tantamount to throwing your career prospects away. You can't talk to the press either, because it would jeopardise any legal proceedings that might occur in future. The whole "anonymous reporting" thing is a joke, too, because if it ever comes to trail you've got to take the stand as a witness anyway. I'm not saying it's right to ignore this stuff, but it's understandable.

          Now before you think it's all doom and gloom, there are a massive proportion of good officers out there. They avoid this stuff by never getting involved in the first place. Most officers don't beat up suspects, or attack innocent protesters. I'm all for increased CCTV on police because I've got nothing to hide. In fact, it'll provide the CPS with more evidence if a case goes to trial, and quickly dispel any claims of evidence planting or police brutality. Furthermore, it helps identify officers who are bent, because they're the ones who don't want you to film them. It's a win-win situation.

          So next time you see an officer arresting someone, film it and put it on YouTube. If they're one of the good guys, they'll thank you for it.

          • Re:About time (Score:4, Interesting)

            by 0111 1110 (518466) on Friday May 18, 2012 @04:25AM (#40039087)

            Despite all that, despite the fact you'd be hurting your career and that your superiors don't want to hear it and all the rest, if you aren't willing to stand up for what is right, why be a police officer at all? What about the value of being able to look yourself in the mirror without shame?

            I'm a victim of police brutality here in the US and I thought back to all the portrayals of police officers that I saw in films and television. Whatever faults the characters might have, most of them had a strong sense of right and wrong. It's too bad that so few police officers seem to have that in real life.

            In my own experience the US has some of the worst police officers. They seem to hate pretty much anyone who is not a cop. They are often angry and have short tempers and get some kind of enjoyment out of hurting people. In other countries I've lived in the police seemed more just like regular guys. They didn't have that 'edge' to them that makes American cops seem so much like grown up bullies.

            I'm not sure how plea bargaining works in the UK, but I was advised by my attorney to lie to the judge under oath because the deal he made with the prosecutor required that I admit to all the charges against me. I had only minutes to decide and so I decided to make a false confession, but it was one of the hardest things I have ever done, and I will always think at least somewhat less of myself for doing it. I felt terribly guilty about it because doing so violated my own sense of right and wrong. In order to stay out of prison for things I did not do I was persuaded to commit the real crime of perjury and admit to a violent crime that I did not commit.

            It's amazing to me the kinds of things that American cops do to hurt people on a regular basis and yet they don't seem to feel any guilt about it. I think they must dehumanize [wikipedia.org] us. Anyone who is not a cop they see as lesser beings. And maybe some cops just can't live with all of the horrible things they have done to people and that's why the police suicide rate is so high in the US. Not because of the things they've seen, but because of the things they've done. I think a lot of cops are true sociopaths who just do not feel guilt, but if you do feel guilt I would imagine that doing what you feel is right is far more important than getting a promotion by doing things you know are wrong. Despite what some people think, for anyone who is not a sociopath immune to feelings of guilt, integrity and honesty and always doing what you think is right have their own rewards.

          • by h4rr4r (612664)

            There cannot be a massive proportion of good officers out there. You admit it yourself. If they don't speak up and when that fails go to the media they are not good officers.

    • Re:About time (Score:5, Insightful)

      by archieaa (961120) on Thursday May 17, 2012 @10:16PM (#40037269)
      Simply put: With our police, we have created a class of "Super Citizens" who get to do things that the general population can't. It is extremely important that they follow the rules and we are able to observe their actions. The penalties for breaking the rules MUST be higher for those in charge of enforcing the rules. Anything less is a gradual invitation for creating a police state. Transparency and oversight. We always need them. Each of the three branches of government watch each other and All three should answer to us. I am profoundly worried by the fading away of the free press and its replacement by partisan reporting designed to comfort what ever political leaning you have. It is good for all sides to exchange views. It is good to challenge your assumptions. There also is great need for fact checking in the media. The need to draw attention to half truths and out and out lies. The real war has been a war on debate. End Rant.
  • by guanxi (216397) on Thursday May 17, 2012 @07:20PM (#40036005)

    The elephant in the room is that they rarely have a good reason to delete the recordings. Why would a police officer not want his work recorded?

    (The rare reason: It violates the privacy of a citizen who is involved.)

    • You would be surprised. google around. Specifically gun owners/people WITH cameras have been targeted.

      • by guanxi (216397) on Thursday May 17, 2012 @07:32PM (#40036145)

        You would be surprised. google around. Specifically gun owners/people WITH cameras have been targeted.

        Targeted for what? Gun owners are having the recordings on their guns erased?

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward

          No idea how it is relevant to the current discussion, but gun owners who carry openly are sometime bothered by police under the guise of a visible firearm 'causing a disturbance' or making an officer 'feel uncomfortable'. Police turn exercising that freedom into an enormous hassle to discourage people from exercising it.

    • by sed quid in infernos (1167989) on Thursday May 17, 2012 @07:57PM (#40036355)
      Hearing about such destruction of recordings makes me think of the doctrine of spoliation [wikipedia.org]. The underlying principle is that when a party intentionally destroys evidence, there's reason to infer the evidence would hurt them, not help them. Seems doubly important when the police are involved.
    • by Jason Levine (196982) on Thursday May 17, 2012 @08:19PM (#40036527)

      My question is always this: "Am I committing a crime by recording this?"

      If the answer is "Yes, I am", then deleting the photos/videos is destroying evidence.
      If the answer is "No, I'm not", then they have no reason for deleting the photos/videos.

      • by AngryDeuce (2205124) on Thursday May 17, 2012 @09:15PM (#40036889)

        What do you do when the answer is "YOU'RE RESISTING ARREST!!!" and they beat the shit out of you, taze you, then 'lose your phone down the sewer in the struggle'?

        And don't count on any dashcam footage to help you. Here's an example where nine independent dashcams mysteriously "failed" [harvard.edu] to record an incident where a reporter, who was coincidentally (of course it's just a coincidence, am I right?) covering a series of corruption scandals within the local government, was pulled out of her car by a dozen officers, along with her cameraman, and roughed up on the side of the road.

        Here's a nice passage:

        Although I was the first journalist in the United States known to be subjected to a felony traffic stop while on the job, some officers said I was "lucky it wasn't a real one." Had it been, they claimed, I would have been "eating the pavement." One police official told Washingtonian magazine, "McCarren should quit her whining. She wasn't shot."

        America! Fuck Yeah!!

        • by 0111 1110 (518466) on Friday May 18, 2012 @12:31AM (#40038049)

          In my state the use of dashcam videos has been discontinued because it almost never helped the prosecution. 99% of the time it was solely benefiting the defense. Since it didn't help with convictions they just got rid of it. I guess their logic was why pay extra for something that only helps the other side. And it's not like the DA really wants to have to deal with corrupt, violent cops and false charges and all that other crap which he couldn't really pursue even if he wanted to because he relies on a close relationship with the police to get convictions. Or at least that's the logic I think. I think he would still get cooperation from the police because they want the convictions at least as much as the prosecutor himself does. The cops might start harassing him though.

    • by Aryden (1872756)
      incorrect, in most states, when you are arrested, you automatically lose the privacy rights. Hell, in many states, they will print your photo with the date you were arrested and the crime as well as location in the paper, online and elsewhere. See: Chattanooga News Free Press.
    • by J'raxis (248192) on Thursday May 17, 2012 @10:02PM (#40037175) Homepage

      (The rare reason: It violates the privacy of a citizen who is involved.)

      Yup. This was always the excuse they'd bring up when we in New Hampshire [freestateproject.org] were fighting this issue legislatively [nhliberty.org]. Domestic violence cases, child victims, whatever emotional bullshit they could throw up to keep the wiretapping law here [state.nh.us] usable as a weapon to prevent people from recording police abuse---which [google.com] is [google.com] how they always [google.com] use it here.

      Fortunately there was recently a very positive U.S. District Court ruling, Glik v. Cunniffe, 655 F.3d 78 (1st Cir. 2011) [google.com], which overrules all of this and makes legislative attempts to fix the problem a moot point.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 17, 2012 @07:28PM (#40036097)

    How about instead, they advise the police if they are caught doing it again, said officers will be arrested by the FBI or similar, and put in federal prison. Seems that would be a good incentive.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I'd say arrest the whole department on conspiracy charges.

      They stand together, they can hang together.

    • by p0p0 (1841106) on Thursday May 17, 2012 @07:46PM (#40036269)
      The reality is if they do it again they'll be put on suspension with pay for 6 months. Easiest vacation ever.
      • At the very least it provides a good basis for a lawsuit if someone has their recordings destroyed. The 14th amendment connection of not allowing the destruction of personal property without due process helps. I think this is an important and very beneficial ruling.

  • by mark-t (151149) <markt@l y n x . b c .ca> on Thursday May 17, 2012 @07:36PM (#40036193) Journal
    ...is that you can take pictures, and it won't matter if the cops take or even if they destroy your device. As technology improves, and the service gets faster, it expect it may even become possible to upload video in real time.
    • But it is already possible :/

      • by mark-t (151149)
        Although it may be technically possible today already, it's my own experience that wireless data transfer speeds are still to slow to handle real time video.
      • by J'raxis (248192)

        Yup. A lot of New Hampshire liberty activists use Qik to live stream to the Internet from the phones.

        • by 0111 1110 (518466)

          Surely the police know about such things now. So they may just assume you are uploading the data somewhere. So what are they going to do? They'll just grab your phone and turn it off before they beat you half to death .After they beat you, assuming you are still alive, they will do their best to put you in prison for a long time by charging you with any cover charges they can think of. I doubt there are many cases of police brutality where the victim was not charged with something. Most victims will have ho

    • That is great and fully possible except for one huge flaw, the device has to be logged into that cloud provider, which makes it still equally easy to delete it from the cloud on that device. Many police stations give their officers lessons on how to delete photos/video from a phone, if that became a more common practice, they would add lessons on how to delete from cloud apps.
  • Sanity prevails.
  • by Nom du Keyboard (633989) on Thursday May 17, 2012 @08:05PM (#40036425)

    The police harassment of photographers won't really end until either:
    1) A settlement over this costs a city a Whole Lot of Money (>$100,000.00 + all lawyer fees).
    -or-
    2) A police officer goes to jail for at least a year over this.
    Until then, threatening letters, especially from this Justice Department, are little more than toilet paper.

    • Why would a city care? Any judgment against them is paid by... the taxpayers! No, the way to solve this is to remove official immunity for the cases in which police officers violate citizens' civil rights.
      • by garcia (6573) on Thursday May 17, 2012 @08:54PM (#40036743) Homepage

        Have you ever been involved in government at the city level? They most certainly do care--even about very little citizen participation and news coverage.

        You get someone to stir up shit about something like that at a City Council meeting and have several news outlets there and a packed room and I guarantee you that the City Council will not make the typical stupid moves it normally does.

    • by J'raxis (248192) on Thursday May 17, 2012 @10:16PM (#40037273) Homepage

      The police harassment of photographers won't really end until either:
      1) A settlement over this costs a city a Whole Lot of Money (>$100,000.00 + all lawyer fees).

      How's $170,000 sound? :)

      See Glik v. Cunniffe, 655 F.3d 78 (1st Cir. 2011) [google.com]. Glik got a $170,000 settlement out of the Boston police. In New Hampshire, there are several people [google.com] who were similarly abused by police and now have similar lawsuits underway. The First Circuit covers New Hampshire, so I think you can guess how these cases will go.

  • by Ol Olsoc (1175323) on Thursday May 17, 2012 @08:05PM (#40036437)
    If they are doing nothing wrong, then they should not have any problem whatsoever allowing recordings.
    • I am not saying that the police shouldn't be recorded, they should, but I can understand why even if they aren't doing anything wrong they don't like it. First off it just kinda sucks to get recorded when you are doing work. I think if I came in to your cube/office and setup cameras to record you all day long, you might get a little mad at me and the "if you are doing nothing wrong" argument won't help mollify you.

      Then there's the fact that given enough recording time, you are going to do something that mak

      • by 0111 1110 (518466)

        The part about editing. That's what the cops always say. They say, "Yes he did shoot that 12 year old girl in the head with a taser for running away from him, but you didn't see what happened just before that." They'll claim her real crime was edited out. I doubt that sort of thing happens very often. What is the motive supposed to be anyway for doing that? Maybe if the cop and the injured suspect had some kind of prior history, but usually that's not the case. People need to realize that for every police c

  • latin for "Who watches the watchmen?"

    it seems we have finally answered the ancient conundrum:

    everyone, on youtube

  • ...your word against theirs that there ever was a recording device.

    • I wonder why people would think I only carry ONE?

      There's the visible camera.

      Then there's the two invisible cameras. (buttonhole HD and pen HD. Oh yes, I have both)

      Then there's the highly sensitive voice recorder.

      Then there's the Android phone streaming video and audio to justin.tv

      Better to be prepared and not need it than to need it and not have it!

  • Something Good (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ToastedRhino (2015614) on Thursday May 17, 2012 @08:20PM (#40036543)

    It's great how when something good actually happens in the US the comments on Slashdot are still mostly negative.

    The existence of these letters and their public nature will make it basically impossible for any police department in the country to win a case in which they are accused of illegally destroying a recording. The legal arguments are handed to us here, by the DoJ no less. This creates a huge financial incentive for states and cities to make sure that their officers are not destroying recordings, and as they say, money talks. This seems like a good move which saves the administration from having to arrest police officers while accomplishing basically the same goal.

    • A little idealistic, when you consider the symbiotic relationship between prosecutors and cops. Like an AC posted above, it will just make sure that the recording devices are "confiscated" rather than destroyed on-site. Then, short of something like Qik automatically streaming the recording elsewhere, it's the recorders' word against the cops'.

      Historically, it's not difficult to guess which side will get preference.

    • Re:Something Good (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 17, 2012 @10:24PM (#40037327)

      It's not really that good a thing. At all.

      It formalizes privilege. It says that it's a violation of the constitution they admit is happening, and that they will not arrest them over it, but will instead brief in favor of the defendant. In effect, it /weakens/ a position of strength, but doesn't punish the abuse. It admits they know it's happening and have done nothing about it. It's like fining microsoft a thousand a day on antitrust violations... the punishment may be real, but it's wholly trivial and effectively legitimizes the violations, the same as wehrgeld used to permit rape and murder by the wealthy aristocracy.

      And even if it was a good thing, it's still just one small step forward after a hundred big steps back. I'm not cheering for that.

      The DoJ handed out legal arguments. What they have not done is:
          - prosecuted the officers
          - revoked their pensions or suggested they be turned over to the victims via civil forfeiture. Which, if you're aware ... is the penalty for a lot of relatively minor civilian crimes. Shoot a deer in the wrong spot, have some weed in your house... you can lose your car or home.
          - stripped them of the protection of their department and union -- as they are allowed to do by law in most civil rights violations.
          - revoked their qualified immunity when acting in egregious violation of law
          - revoked departmental immunity
          - taken out entire departments, internal affairs, and the citizen's review board on charges of corruption, conspiracy, battery, kidnapping (that is what unlawful arrest is usually), sexual assault (most frisks) and then thrown them all in for the rest of their natural life under rico. They are of course, free to roll on their comrades in exchange for a 5-10 year reduced sentence with 20 years of probation. The same as any other violent felon would be in a first time offense.

      Because let's face it. Citizens get the book thrown at them. Police should too. They at least have the benefit of a bit of training in the law.

      You want progress -- do the above publicly to TWO police department's, one sheriff, and one executive law enforcement agency somewhere in the US.

      Until then -- it is a mere piece of advice that it is a violation of the constitution which comes with no repercussion save paid leave and the possibility of a civil suit. Not good enough.

    • by bky1701 (979071)
      "Please stop violating the citizens' civil rights" isn't exactly something to be applauded. A move in the right direction, but not a fundamental shift. There is still a deep problem which needs resolved, something this doesn't do.
    • My friend got a fix it tixket for his LEGAL flowmaster xhaust on his mustang. When the CHP officer approached him about the loud exhaust, my friend, a wise legally minded citizen, pulled out the spec sheet for the exhaust showing it was below 95db at some range (thelimit) and also a safety bulletin from the head of CHP in california stating that no CHP officer is trained or qualified to make exhaust sound level distinctions.

      He was nearly arrested and still got the ticket. He won in court because the offic

      • by VanessaE (970834)

        it's sad that the officer threatened arrest, but I can't say I blame him for harrassing your friend. Why? Because there's no legitimate reason for ridiculously loud exhausts outside of a race track or similar environment, unless your exhaust happens to be damaged and you're en-route to get it fixed or some other equally-improbably corner case. The rest of us just don't want to hear the noise. Get off my lawn, etc.

  • Even a broken clock is right twice a day...

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 17, 2012 @09:47PM (#40037079)

    Why? Because there is no gray area here. Nobody has a right NOT to be recorded in public.

    The US Justice Department HAD to act because local DAs gave them no choice. Every DA that thought arrests and confiscating/destroying video was an acceptable response to the public recording of LEOs should be disbarred. They are either to incompetent or corrupt to hold office.

  • Sue them! (Score:5, Informative)

    by reboot246 (623534) on Thursday May 17, 2012 @10:09PM (#40037219) Homepage
    Individual police officers (and other government agents) who violate a person's civil rights may be sued under federal law and/or state law. The main federal civil rights law is 42 U.S.C. 1983, which authorizes suits against state and local officials who violate a person's constitutional rights. Federal officials may be sued under an analogous judge-made law called the "Bivens doctrine". In addition, state and local officials, but not federal officials, may be sued under state law.

    When a police officer loses his house, his car and a lot of his future income maybe he will pay attention to the law next time. Maybe his fellow officers will learn something, too.
  • by 0111 1110 (518466) on Friday May 18, 2012 @03:38AM (#40038905)

    The truly pathetic part is the state could easily prevent a lot of police beatings and misconduct by simply forcing them to get video recordings for any of the typical cover [tumblr.com] and contempt of cop [wikipedia.org] charges. Resisting arrest? Disorderly conduct? Disturbing the peace? Failure to obey a lawful order? Assault and battery against a police officer? With a deadly weapon? In my case they even included little things like "failure to identify oneself". All of the attorneys know that a lot of the time these charges are bogus and in fact likely mean that the alleged aggressor is in fact the victim. So why treat the situation the same as any other charge? When it comes to these sorts of charges the police should need real evidence and only unbiased civilian witness testimony should be admissible.

    You obviously can't trust other police officers to come forward and rat out their fellow officer for beating up or in some cases even killing someone for some minor insult or sign of disrespect. In fact you can pretty much count on every last one of them to lie about it even under oath. I mean, you are talking about accusing a fellow officer of excessive use of force, false arrest, false imprisonment, malicious prosecution, violating the victim's civil rights and tort assault and battery. It's just not going to happen. To pretend that it is is completely ridiculous. There is simply no police misconduct case where the police officers themselves can be counted on to testify truthfully. In such situations it is quite reasonable to assume that they are going to lie to protect themselves and lie to protect each other under the assumption that if they ever ended up losing control and injuring or killing someone out of anger that their fellow officers would back up their story as well.

    I was attacked by a pissed off psycho cop at a DUI roadblock They had to drop the DUI charges against me when they finally allowed me to take a breathalyzer test at the police station and after 3 separate tries the machine refused to output anything other than 0.0% alcohol. They really wanted to get me on that, but I don't even drink. Luckily I don't use alcohol based mouthwash either or I might have been fighting a DUI charge as well and probably wouldn't have gotten such a favorable plea bargain. DUI roadblocks shouldn't even exist in this country and some states don't allow them, but if we have to have them all the encounters should be filmed. Police simply cannot be trusted to not abuse their power in such situations. If they can't videotape the stops and sobriety tests they should at least have an unbiased witness not associated with law enforcement there to observe and make sure things don't get out of hand or serve as a witness if they do. Former victims of police brutality would make good witnesses although most of us would probably be too scared. Once you realize that cops can and will severely injure or kill you for even the most minor sign of disrespect, it's difficult to have voluntary contact with any of them for any reason ever again. I can only admire the courage of those NH guys intentionally filming the police. No doubt if one of them is killed or very badly injured people will consider that courage to be stupidity. People will say, "What did he expect, provoking a cop like that? I have no sympathy for him."

  • by moeinvt (851793) on Friday May 18, 2012 @07:35AM (#40039845)

    This is a good step. Now I wonder if the Feds feel the same way when someone is taping THEIR activity? DEA? BATF? TSA? FBI? DHS?

    This practice of blocking recordings, seizing and destroying cameras, etc. has been going on at the federal level as well, so I'm not about to fall on my knees and thank the DOJ for lecturing Baltimore.

    Note that there ARE complications when videotaping because certain states have laws which prohibit audio recording of a conversation unless all parties give their consent. The cops have used this as an excuse to charge people with a crime for making video recordings of cops.

    This is a useful resource from the ACLU:

    https://www.aclu.org/free-speech/know-your-rights-photographers [aclu.org]

    So keep recording government abuses and posting them online, but know your rights and be careful.

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