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Recording the Police

CmdrTaco posted more than 3 years ago | from the better-still-be-legal dept.

Security 515

Bruce Schneier says "I've written a lot on the 'War on Photography,' where normal people are harassed as potential terrorists for taking pictures of things in public. This article is different; it's about recording the police: Allison's predicament is an extreme example of a growing and disturbing trend. As citizens increase their scrutiny of law enforcement officials through technologies such as cell phones..."

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In Soviet Russa (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34634356)

Police deports your first post to siberia.

and we should also... (1)

bball99 (232214) | more than 3 years ago | (#34634402)

record store clerks, the checkout counter at the grocery, fast food transactions, buying lottery tickets, paying tax bills, trying on clothes in the store changing room...

oh wait....

Re:and we should also... (0, Redundant)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 3 years ago | (#34634414)

Everything but the last two are already done in a lot of cases, where have you been?

Re:and we should also... (2)

blair1q (305137) | more than 3 years ago | (#34634448)

...record things going (*whooosh!*) wherever it occurs...

Re:and we should also... (1)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 3 years ago | (#34634592)

I was afraid that might happen.

Re:and we should also... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34634516)

That was exactly his point.

Regular surveillance in those cases are common and overlooked, where important things like police business are not.

Re:and we should also... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34634520)

and we should also record store clerks, the checkout counter at the grocery, fast food transactions, buying lottery tickets, paying tax bills, trying on clothes in the store changing room...

oh wait....

Had you RTFA, you would know Schneier's reasoning for making it legal to record the police, and you would consequently realize that those reasons would not apply to your counter-examples, thus rendering your rebuttal useless.

Re:and we should also... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34635022)

>Had you RTFA, ...

You must be new here...

Re:and we should also... (5, Insightful)

PCM2 (4486) | more than 3 years ago | (#34634840)

And let's not kid ourselves; the reason you have cameras on store clerks is because store clerks steal. There's this stereotype that convenience stores are always getting robbed. Trust me, though, when I worked at a 7-Eleven as a kid, the camera wasn't pointed straight down at the register because that's where they thought I would be standing when I was robbed at gunpoint. The cameras are there for theft prevention, and nine times out of then the thief is an employee.

So if it's OK to use cameras to prevent store clerks from committing crimes (or document them), why is it not OK to use cameras to prevent police officers from committing crimes (or document them)? Not only do police officers sometimes commit pretty heinous crimes, including robbery and battery, but I would argue that just about any crime committed by a police officer is more serious than one committed by a store clerk, both because of the abuse of authority and the breakdown of societal values that inevitably occurs as a result.

Re:and we should also... (5, Funny)

greatgreygreengreasy (706454) | more than 3 years ago | (#34635040)

But, but... According to Jim Pasco, executive director of the national Fraternal Order of Police, police misconduct is "so rare it might as well not exist." [reason.com]

9 times out of 10? (1)

Esteanil (710082) | more than 3 years ago | (#34635144)

9 out of 10? Wow, is that a real statistic?
Here in Norway it's apparently about 25%... Maybe there's something to this thing about treating employees decently?

Re:9 times out of 10? (2)

broknstrngz (1616893) | more than 3 years ago | (#34635200)

9 out of 10? Wow, is that a real statistic?

No, 78.3% of all statistics are made up on the spot.

Camera in eyeglasses (2)

h00manist (800926) | more than 3 years ago | (#34634904)

Perhaps eyeglass-mounted cameras and a video-in connector on the cellphones.

Re:Camera in eyeglasses (1)

cayenne8 (626475) | more than 3 years ago | (#34634982)

"Perhaps eyeglass-mounted cameras and a video-in connector on the cellphones."

That doesn't help the contact wearers, or lasik people....or even those rare people with normal uncorrected vision, unless they happen to be out in daylight wearing shades.

Re:and we should also... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34635246)

What's the matter? Are you a cop? Are you afraid that somebody will record you and catch you not doing your fucking job up to standards?

Anybody that doesn't like the idea of cops being recorded apparently encourages them to be corrupt and incompetent.

Rule of Law (5, Insightful)

digsbo (1292334) | more than 3 years ago | (#34634416)

The arbitrary application of existing, irrelevant laws to cover actions which the powers that be find convenient to criminalize offers proof that the rule of law is dead, that people are afraid to speak and act against it, and that we now have rule by force. It will take conscientious effort by a large part of the population to peacefully reverse this disturbing trend.

Re:Rule of Law (3, Interesting)

blair1q (305137) | more than 3 years ago | (#34634534)

It will take conscientious effort by a large part of the population to peacefully reverse this disturbing trend.

But that is the rule of law. It only wouldn't be if you couldn't do that under the law.

The rule of law also includes your right to question the actions of the police before a judge.

And many jurisdictions have official boards of citizens who listen to complaints about the police and can cause much grief to the police hierarchy [google.com] if the rank-and-file are abusing their badges.

But that doesn't stop perps who get their necks stepped on from shouting "police brutality!" even though they deserve it.

Re:Rule of Law (5, Informative)

Hatta (162192) | more than 3 years ago | (#34634614)

It stops being the rule of law and becomes the rule of man when you cannot punish the prosecutor for abusing his power.

Re:Rule of Law (3, Informative)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | more than 3 years ago | (#34634630)

Most citizen review boards are rubber stamps for the police leadership, exonerating police brutality and OKing police shootings.

Re:Rule of Law (-1, Troll)

blair1q (305137) | more than 3 years ago | (#34634742)

That happens because, as I mentioned, the perp generally deserved it.

And if you don't like how it's being done, you can try to get on a CRB yourself just by filling out a form [citizenreviewboard.com] .

Sure, there's politics involved. When isn't there? You're doing it now, by posting opinions about how the process is rotten.

Re:Rule of Law (5, Informative)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | more than 3 years ago | (#34634878)

Last city I lived in with alot of police shootings of civilian non suspects was Portland Oregon.

Where we have things like the police shooting unarmed people in the back.

http://www.oregonlive.com/portland/index.ssf/2010/11/family_of_aaron_campbell_files.html [oregonlive.com]

"Campbell, 25, was shot in an apartment parking lot in North Portland. Police had been called to the scene on a report of a suicidal man who was armed. Campbell came out of the apartment with his hands behind his head, walking backward toward police, witnesses said. Police, who said he ignored commands to put his hands up, hit him with six beanbag rounds. Frashour then hit him in the back, firing the fatal shot with his AR-15 rifle. The officer said he saw Campbell reaching with both hands toward the back waistband of his pants and thought he might be reaching for a gun."

But I'm sure to you everyone is a "perp".

Re:Rule of Law (1)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | more than 3 years ago | (#34634894)

I don't live in Las Vegas Nevada so I can't really apply for that gig.

Re:Rule of Law (3, Interesting)

scot4875 (542869) | more than 3 years ago | (#34634958)

And most people are bloodthirsty bastards who make snap judgments and love to see police beatings (see: Cops) and would happily have public hangings for even minor offenses without a moment's thought.

--Jeremy

Re:Rule of Law (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34634616)

If all else fails we can whip the horses' eyes, and make them sleep and cry. On another note: Remember when we were back in Africa?

Re:Rule of Law (1)

cayenne8 (626475) | more than 3 years ago | (#34634956)

"If all else fails we can whip the horses' eyes, and make them sleep and cry. On another note: Remember when we were back in Africa?"

Stronger than dirt.

Re:Rule of Law (5, Insightful)

MozeeToby (1163751) | more than 3 years ago | (#34634736)

Targeted application of laws which are not generally enforced should be the most terrifying thing in the world to you if you worry about a police state evolving. The general lack of enforcement means that the public is unaware and/or unconcerned about the law, meaning penalties can be stiff, and that violations are common because the general public doesn't know any better. The upshot being that nearly anyone the police or judiciary doesn't like can be thrown into prison for decades, which is practically the definition of a police state, and the scary thing is that it already exists in the good old US of A. The wiretap laws are hardly the most commonly used for this purpose, but the ridiculous penalties (can easily be 100 years in prison if you have multiple offenses) make it one of the most terrifying.

Re:Rule of Law (5, Interesting)

NFN_NLN (633283) | more than 3 years ago | (#34635174)

Targeted application of laws which are not generally enforced should be the most terrifying thing in the world to you if you worry about a police state evolving. The general lack of enforcement means that the public is unaware and/or unconcerned about the law, meaning penalties can be stiff, and that violations are common because the general public doesn't know any better. The upshot being that nearly anyone the police or judiciary doesn't like can be thrown into prison for decades, which is practically the definition of a police state, and the scary thing is that it already exists in the good old US of A. The wiretap laws are hardly the most commonly used for this purpose, but the ridiculous penalties (can easily be 100 years in prison if you have multiple offenses) make it one of the most terrifying.

Parent is absolutely right. I think the rule should be that ALL laws are applied in order of their severity at all times.

If there was a stupid law about being drunk in public and everyone who walked from a bar into a cab got a ticket during that 5ft walk... I bet the laws would be changed in a hurry. Yet, as it stands, a cop can selectively apply these ridiculous laws to effectively harass anyone they want.

The only way laws change is if the general public stands up to them. If they cherry pick people to abuse then they mostly go unnoticed.

How I handle it. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34635000)

Because of this, I will consider the police and prosecutors to be liars until proven otherwise.

If the cop had to shoot a guy because "he was resisting arrest", the cop better have an unaltered video of it happening because I will consider him to be a liar without it. You see all these type of cases [wpix.com] in news where all the police cameras failed at the same time and it happens when the police used questionable force on a suspect.

It's one sided. Only they are allowed to video and as a result, they can control which video is available.

Until this horseshit of prosecuting citizens for recording of police ends, then as far as I'm concerned, the police are lying until proven otherwise.

Someone gets their ass kicked by the cops, well there better be video showing that it was necessary.

If the cops don't like it, then they can get another job. My local police are constantly turning applicants away so there's no problem replacing any cry baby cop who says "it's rough out there!".

There is no expectation of privacy (5, Insightful)

cpu6502 (1960974) | more than 3 years ago | (#34634428)

.....in a public place." - SCOTUS. It applies to the cops as well. They have no reason to believe they should be unrecordable when they are out on the road or on the sidewalk. Besides: They record us all the time, with cameras installed in their cars and taping during confessions.

Re:There is no expectation of privacy (4, Insightful)

Zumbs (1241138) | more than 3 years ago | (#34634500)

Furthermore, the police is given significant power over the citizens. Is it so strange that citizens want assurances that this power is exercised in accordance with the law? And that this includes watching over the shoulder of police officers on duty, exercising these powers? After all, power is known to corrupt if it is not held in check.

Re:There is no expectation of privacy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34634544)

As someone who has had police lie in court against him, I wholeheartedly agree.

Re:There is no expectation of privacy (5, Informative)

theaveng (1243528) | more than 3 years ago | (#34634612)

I just heard on the radio today that cops arrested some Maryland Libertarians who were trying to collect signatures to appear on the state ballot. The LP members were asked to stop, and then when one of them whipped out a camera to document the unconstitutional limitation (the MD SC already ruled in favor of ACORN that petitioning is legal), the cops arrested them for assault.

This is the second time. About two weeks ago a motorcyclist with a helmet cam was arrested when he posted a traffic stop on youtube. The cop had pulled a gun on the citizen w/o identifying himself AS a cop (he was plain clothes), and then the Police Bureau arrested the man after the Chief saw the video online. It seems Maryland is turning into a tyranny.

Re:There is no expectation of privacy (3, Interesting)

bluefoxlucid (723572) | more than 3 years ago | (#34634830)

The sad thing is one day I might not be able to live in it. I am sliding more and more into a warrior's philosophy each day... I try to stay out of it, but one day I'm going to look around and realize I can't let things be the way they are.

It doesn't matter. The whole impact of my existence is zero; if I die today it's fine. Never had a girlfriend, no kids, no need for that sort of thing; and I've completely rejected the part of society directly connected to me in the biological tree. and anyone tied to them usefully in the association graph.

Re:There is no expectation of privacy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34635156)

The motorcyclist arrest happened longer than 2 weeks ago. That went through court already. I guess you didn't see the results posted on /. But hey, since it's /. and with the trouble they have with dupes, it's not a problem responding now.

Re:There is no expectation of privacy (1)

BobMcD (601576) | more than 3 years ago | (#34635172)

.....in a public place." - SCOTUS. It applies to the cops as well. They have no reason to believe they should be unrecordable when they are out on the road or on the sidewalk. Besides: They record us all the time, with cameras installed in their cars and taping during confessions.

I had this thought as well. The judge said, from the bench, that his privacy had been violated. How can this possibly be the case? He's in public as a function of his duties. Everything is on the record, by law, so wherein lies the privacy??

Foul Bruce - Link to Actual Article (4, Insightful)

shaitand (626655) | more than 3 years ago | (#34634432)

The link is to a stub article with no real content on Bruce's blog that just points to the real article:

http://reason.com/archives/2010/12/07/the-war-on-cameras [reason.com]

Bruce has useful articles sometimes but it isn't any more legitimate for Bruce to use his blog as gateway page to real articles than anyone else trying to scam hits for content that isn't theirs.

Re:Foul Bruce - Link to Actual Article (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34634702)

His blog isn't just facts, it is clearly an editorial containing his opinion on what this means and how he feels about it. It is appropriate for him to link it in this way if his intention is to convey his opinion on the issue.

Re:Foul Bruce - Link to Actual Article (1)

david_thornley (598059) | more than 3 years ago | (#34634710)

I fail to see that Bruce is doing anything wrong by providing pointers to articles that interest his readership.

Of course, submitting such pointers to Slashdot isn't the right thing to do, but I again fail to see that's Bruce's fault.

Re:Foul Bruce - Link to Actual Article (1)

mooingyak (720677) | more than 3 years ago | (#34634828)

Well then, we should go and check on who the submitter is and blame that guy.

Re:Foul Bruce - Link to Actual Article (1)

bluefoxlucid (723572) | more than 3 years ago | (#34634880)

This is all important. Being able to record the police is one of the best ways to ensure that the police are held accountable for their actions. Privacy has to be viewed in the context of relative power. For example, the government has a lot more power than the people. So privacy for the government increases their power and increases the power imbalance between government and the people; it decreases liberty. Forced openness in government -- open government laws, Freedom of Information Act filings, the recording of police officers and other government officials, WikiLeaks -- reduces the power imbalance between government and the people, and increases liberty.

Privacy for the people increases their power. It also increases liberty, because it reduces the power imbalance between government and the people. Forced openness in the people -- NSA monitoring of everyone's phone calls and e-mails, the DOJ monitoring everyone's credit card transactions, surveillance cameras -- decreases liberty.

I think we need a law that explicitly makes it legal for people to record government officials when they are interacting with them in their official capacity. And this is doubly true for police officers and other law enforcement officials.

No real content, you say?

Re:Foul Bruce - Link to Actual Article (1)

hkz (1266066) | more than 3 years ago | (#34635064)

To be honest, I read it for Bruce's commentary.

Re:Foul Bruce - Link to Actual Article (3, Insightful)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 3 years ago | (#34635088)

The link is to a stub article with no real content on Bruce's blog that just points to the real article:

I disagree. His commentary about how privacy for the powerful decreases overall liberty while privacy for the common man increase liberty is a very succinct and insightful analysis. It may even be more important than the narrow topic of stupid legal tricks regarding the recording of on-duty cops.

Chicago Artist Faces 15 Years (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34634506)

The Chicago artist Chris Drew was charged with a felony and faces 15 years imprisonment for making an audio recording of his own arrest:

http://www.c-drew.com/blog

http://www.wellesparkbulldog.com/news/chris-drew-granted-a-continuance-in-free-speech-trial

http://chilaborarts.wordpress.com/2010/01/01/why-is-it-a-felony-to-record-your-own-arrest-c-drew/

Re:Chicago Artist Faces 15 Years (2)

micheas (231635) | more than 3 years ago | (#34635132)

The Chicago artist Chris Drew was charged with a felony and faces 15 years imprisonment for making an audio recording of his own arrest:

http://www.c-drew.com/blog

http://www.wellesparkbulldog.com/news/chris-drew-granted-a-continuance-in-free-speech-trial

http://chilaborarts.wordpress.com/2010/01/01/why-is-it-a-felony-to-record-your-own-arrest-c-drew/

At least this was someone that was consciously challenging a probably unjust, unconstitutional law, as opposed to someone that was just in the wrong place at the wrong time.

That said, I really hope the law is invalidated by the courts.

Not just wiretapping laws (5, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | more than 3 years ago | (#34634522)

Prosecutors are able to get away with these bad faith prosecutions because of a doctrine called "prosecutorial immunity". We need a way to hold these prosecutors responsible for their actions, that will require the abolition of prosecutorial immunity.

Re:Not just wiretapping laws (5, Insightful)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 3 years ago | (#34634642)

This is correct because courts have ruled in several states that recording a police officer in the process of a traffic stop or otherwise conducting his official duty on a public street is not a violation of the "all parties" wire tap laws, yet prosecutors keep bringing these charges.

Re:Not just wiretapping laws (3, Insightful)

oracleguy01 (1381327) | more than 3 years ago | (#34634898)

This is correct because courts have ruled in several states that recording a police officer in the process of a traffic stop or otherwise conducting his official duty on a public street is not a violation of the "all parties" wire tap laws, yet prosecutors keep bringing these charges.

I think it is kind of like the other crap in the legal system these days. As the little guy you might be 100% in the right but since you have comparatively very limited resources they bank on people being too afraid to having to spend tons of money proving their innocence. So they get to make it more or less illegal without the actual political blow back of making it illegal.

Re:Not just wiretapping laws (3, Insightful)

taustin (171655) | more than 3 years ago | (#34634886)

Generally speaking, prosecutorial immunity is a) applied to civil, not criminal, offenses, and b) does not cover acts that prosecutor knows or should know are illegal.

What's needed is somebody, like Allison, to dig in their heels and push it and push it, until it gets to the Supreme Court, where he will win.

And if you want prosecutors put in prison for abusing their power, vote for people who will do so. Make it your only issue, and get your neighbors involved, too. If you won't, because "it won't do any good," you're part of the problem.

You're violating Contempt Laws (2)

Kagato (116051) | more than 3 years ago | (#34634526)

Contempt of cop that is.

It's video such as... (3, Insightful)

pongo000 (97357) | more than 3 years ago | (#34634560)

...this of harassment by the Detroit PD [examiner.com] which is the reason why our gov't officials want to make videotaping of LEOs [thefirearmsforum.com] illegal.

Yet further evidence of our (as in US) slow slip into the grips of a police state.

Re:It's video such as... (5, Insightful)

GiveBenADollar (1722738) | more than 3 years ago | (#34634816)

I kinda understand where the officer was coming from. There were some people loitering outside a gun buyback and buying guns. This in itself is not illegal, but if the owners of the property object then the loiterers can be asked to leave, or they can call the police and ask the police to make them leave. All normal. When the officer gets their CCLs that's pretty normal too, people loitering where they don't belong buying guns seems like probable cause. The problem is that the officer treated them like criminals instead of like innocent bystanders conducting a harmless transaction where they are not wanted. There was no cause for the officer to get upset with the questions being asked. The problem here comes from the police officers assumption that he is the law rather than the enforcer of laws, and sadly that is pretty common in these incidents. Once he had determined that the people there were within their legal rights he should have asked them not to loiter around there and wished them a happy holidays.

Police side of things. (5, Interesting)

GiveBenADollar (1722738) | more than 3 years ago | (#34634570)

I work with an ex police officer and he's pretty set against 'civilians' recording police, in his eyes its another way to get innocent police officers in trouble since a lot of the videos that have implicated officers in the past have lacked any context. This makes sense because a clip showing police brutality could be part of a longer incident where the suspect resisted arrest and tried to hurt the officer. I understand that in the heat of the moment a person who feels their life is in jeopardy may use force which seems excessive out of context. That being said, the same officer buddy is in favor of red light cameras, the nanny state, and airport scanners that see through your clothes. You can't have it both ways in a free and just society. You can't give the police the ability to watch everyone while denying the public the ability to watch the police. I think a better solution, that nobody in law enforcement would like, would be to put cameras on police officers and also allow the public to photograph them. That way in a court of law you have evidence that can provide context to any side videos in play. If the police officer is innocent he has nothing to fear from the surveillance, that's the line they have been feeding the public in general so it's fitting for it to fly back in their faces.

Re:Police side of things. (1)

kherr (602366) | more than 3 years ago | (#34634662)

Cops are using head-mounted cameras [startribune.com] to record everyone and everything they come in contact with. They like this tool because they control the video. That's what it's really about, controlling information. But when ordinary people record street scenes, that's "bad".

Cops are out in public engaging in public-viewable activity, just like the rest of us. They should expect being recorded and do their job appropriately.

Re:Police side of things. (3, Insightful)

calmofthestorm (1344385) | more than 3 years ago | (#34635050)

Arguably, if the cops are recording it too, they can show the context you didn't see in the shock vid on YouTube. I fail to see why the cops are against this; it's nice to be able to prove you're telling the truth when you have the public calling for your blood.

Re:Police side of things. (2)

marcop (205587) | more than 3 years ago | (#34634712)

I think a better solution, that nobody in law enforcement would like, would be to put cameras on police officers and also allow the public to photograph them. That way in a court of law you have evidence that can provide context to any side videos in play.

That assumes the video doesn't mysteriously go missing or the camera doesn't mysteriously malfunction during crucial moments. Both have happened before.

The police can argue context and the benefit of the doubt can be given. However, some video is quite clear that police brutality does happen.

Re:Police side of things. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34634826)

"That assumes the video doesn't mysteriously go missing or the camera doesn't mysteriously malfunction during crucial moments. Both have happened before.

Thats why the public needs to be able to film the officers at will. If I had my way they officers would have to keep checksummed and authenticated versions of all the audio video of all their on duty time for 5 years. Any gaps, "losses", or forgeries of said video would be a felony that would lead to life in prison. Police have the power to destroy people's life in part of "just doing their jobs." The seriousness of that needs to be impressed on them in a way that if they screw up a little their lives can be destroyed as well.

Re:Police side of things. (5, Insightful)

vux984 (928602) | more than 3 years ago | (#34634836)

That assumes the video doesn't mysteriously go missing or the camera doesn't mysteriously malfunction during crucial moments. Both have happened before.

Right, but the aspect where police can record themselves is complemented by the public being able to record them as well. We need -both-.

That way if the "public" produces video that casts the police in a bad light, the police can contribute their video that puts it into context. There is nothing the public will be able to record that that will harm an innocent officer because he'll have his own "alibi tape". And the argument against the public recording them goes out the window.

Now your comment that police may withhold video that is 'damaging' to their position is bang on, but then we'll have the public recording to work from. And if the police camera that exonerates them "failed at that crucial moment"... the courts can sort it out, with an annotation that perhaps they should invest in cameras that "work better" for their own protection.

Re:Police side of things. (5, Insightful)

Abcd1234 (188840) | more than 3 years ago | (#34634750)

I work with an ex police officer and he's pretty set against 'civilians' recording police, in his eyes its another way to get innocent police officers in trouble since a lot of the videos that have implicated officers in the past have lacked any context. This makes sense because a clip showing police brutality could be part of a longer incident where the suspect resisted arrest and tried to hurt the officer.

Then a court of law will sort it out.

Your cop friend, frankly, sounds like a thin-blue-line, don't-mess-with-the-brotherhood asshole. He should realize that accountability is a *good* thing. Well, assuming he cared about cops actually being held accountable.

I think a better solution, that nobody in law enforcement would like, would be to put cameras on police officers and also allow the public to photograph them. That way in a court of law you have evidence that can provide context to any side videos in play

Absolutely! As you say, there is a *very* obvious solution to this problem: When a cop is involved in a law enforcement action, *the police record themselves*. Problem solved.

But, of course, that would involve transparency, and cops actually, possibly being held accountable for their actions. And who really wants that?

Re:Police side of things. (3, Insightful)

PCM2 (4486) | more than 3 years ago | (#34634762)

So it's the old "sure I kept clubbing him, but you gotta believe me, he resisted arrest twelve minutes before the camera started rolling" defense, eh?

Re:Police side of things. (1)

GiveBenADollar (1722738) | more than 3 years ago | (#34634892)

So it's the old "sure I kept clubbing him, but you gotta believe me, he resisted arrest twelve minutes before the camera started rolling" defense, eh?

Well, if you apply a little logic that defense seems a lot more probable than 'I was minding my own business doing nothing wrong and the officer started clubbing me.' If there are officers who beat people for no reason then they need to be sent to jail, if there are officers who use excessive force when it isn't needed then they need to be retrained or fired, and when an officer is in a situation which requires force and he uses the proper amount of force he should be commended. We can't make a judgment without seeing the full story and something captured on a cell phone camera won't cut it unless it caught the entire incident.

Re:Police side of things. (5, Insightful)

Abcd1234 (188840) | more than 3 years ago | (#34634970)

Well, if you apply a little logic that defense seems a lot more probable than 'I was minding my own business doing nothing wrong and the officer started clubbing me.'

It does, huh? Apparently you didn't watch any of the news coverage vis a vis the G20 demonstrations... innocent people beaten and/or arrested by cops rendered unidentifiable by their "safety" equipment, thus rendering them immune to prosecution.

In short: I trust a cop about as far as I can throw them. Anecdotal comments like those in the OP only make me *more* suspicious.

Re:Police side of things. (5, Insightful)

PCM2 (4486) | more than 3 years ago | (#34635016)

Seriously? So a guy is on the ground and the cop is beating him, and beating him, and beating him, and nowhere is the suspect seen trying to resist except to cover his head with his arms so he won't be knocked unconscious, you're going to accept the defense that it's OK because we just happened to miss the part where the guy was resisting arrest? How long does a police officer have to beat a suspect before they're considered to be subdued? The argument doesn't even have to me "I was minding my own business doing nothing wrong" -- if I was on a jury watching the videotape, I would convict a police officer for beating a guy for twelve minutes even if I knew the guy had committed a crime.

Re:Police side of things. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34635146)

If there are officers who beat people for no reason then they need to be sent to jail, if there are officers who use excessive force when it isn't needed then they need to be retrained or fired

Yeah, good luck with that shit.
  Police brutality is a symptom of a broken system. You can punish all the "bad apples" you want, the culture and environment of policing just makes more. Treating the symptoms alone won't solve the problem.
  Of course, this is assuming you even can punish the "bad apples." Those who've tried have found that it's almost impossible to get a conviction even with damning evidence and multiple witnesses. People are conditioned to trust and believe authority figures, and police have been turned into authority figures, when by all rights they should be viewed as crime janitors.

This is part and parcel of the greater problem with police culture which causes these bad behaviors. If you give someone power over others, and the leeway to abuse that power exists, then even good, normal people will begin to do so. A dark, hidden part of the human psyche opens up and unleashes horrible things most people are unaware they are even capable of. It's what psychologists call the "power of the situation", as demonstrated in the Milgram experiments and the Stanford guard experiments, but it can be prosaically summed up as: "Power corrupts."

Re:Police side of things. (5, Insightful)

chemicaldave (1776600) | more than 3 years ago | (#34634778)

Police brutality, by definition, is never warranted, regardless of context. Police exist solely to apprehend people, and the courts are used to administer punishment. And if a video is taken out of context, the courts will decide what to do. The idea that a recording might be misused as evidence in court is no reason to ban it entirely. This is likely why many police departments are starting to use surveillance devices on officers' uniforms and tasers, it protects everyone's rights involved. It only makes sense that a civilian be able to record any interaction as well.

Re:Police side of things. (1)

GiveBenADollar (1722738) | more than 3 years ago | (#34634902)

Agreed, but without cameras on the cops you will never get both sides of the story. It makes sense that they should have cameras and everyone should be able to record them as well. At least in a free society.

Context still matters (2)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 3 years ago | (#34635102)

There's a couple reasons:

1) What force is appropriate depends on the situation. If you are standing peacefully, following all instructions, almost no force is appropriate. They can grab hold of you and handcuff you if you are being arrested, and guide you in to their car, but that is about it. Anything else is probably excessive since you are offering no resistance. However if you come at them swinging, well then a good deal more force is authorized. They can fight back to subdue you. Doesn't mean any amount of force is ok, doesn't mean they can beat the crap out of you, but getting physical is fine in that situation. This increases again if you use or threaten lethal force. You pull a gun and threaten them, they are justified in shooting you.

So context matters in that what the civilian did before can make a difference. You show just the police being rough with someone as they take them down and restrain them, without showing the person throw punches first, it changes the perception of the event.

2) You do have to account for human emotions. If you expect the police to be perfect inhuman robots that never react emotionally, then you are an idiot. So if someone punches a cop in the face and the cop hauls off and punches them, that has to be considered. I'm not saying "Let the cop off scott free," but also don't punish them lkke you would a cop that just hits someone on no provocation.

Now none of this is to say "ban recording of the police," but it is something that has to be considered in terms of admissibility of evidence and use and so on. People can edit their video for their own ends. Perhaps along with laws allowing the recording of police, there needs to be a requirement that for the video to be used in any kind of disciplinary or criminal action it has to clearly show the events leading up to the problem. So if a video shows a person and a cop talking for a bit, and the cop suddenly gets violent, that is usable. However if a video just shows a scuffle, it is not.

Re:Police side of things. (2)

Entropius (188861) | more than 3 years ago | (#34634908)

No officer should be convicted of anything based on a video taken out of context. If a video taken out of context shows a cop appearing to do something illegal when he's really not, then he can explain it to the judge and jury during his trial, and if his explanation makes sense, he will be acquitted. If the person who made that recording did so maliciously, then the officer can sue for libel.

Why should the police have extra protections against false prosecutions beyond what every citizen has?

Re:Police side of things. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34634972)

Police already film to support their allegations. At a "freedom, not fear" demonstration in Berlin, police officers caused a protester severe injuries. The person was accused of resisting. Several police officers were filming, but all police-made video material of the incident was very selective: It does not show the violence against the protester. Right at the critical moment, all cameras turn away from the scene. Additionally there was a significant gap prior to the incident during which no police-made video was made available. Several police officers corroborated the initial allegations even after public outcry of eye witnesses. That protest march had been organized by people with a high technology affinity, so many protesters had also filmed the scene and provided their material to the victim's defense. A synchronized combination of multiple videos then showed that the police officers had clearly been "bending the truth". This [youtube.com] is the primary video of the defense.

Police officers lie. Police officers use unjustified physical force. Police officers often get away with it because of their privileges. If the public is not allowed to produce evidence against police officers, then we truly live in a police state.

Why the citizens do it (2)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 3 years ago | (#34635006)

Has anyone stopped to ask why otherwise decent people would be posting videos that put the police in such a bad light? I have said this before, and I will say it again: there is no conspiracy amongst criminals to discredit the police, we do not live in a comic book world. These are ordinary people posting videos that make the police look like violent thugs; that means that ordinary people have a problem with the police.

Personally, I do not think it is all that surprising that so many people have a problem with the police, given the size of our prison population and the fact that the police cannot turn the other cheek when it comes to enforcing our numerous laws. The police are the face of law enforcement, and by extension of the law itself, and so people who discredit the police are acting out of a general distaste for the current state of the law. I think a good first step toward repairing the relationship between the citizens and the police would be to repeal many of the laws that have landed so many decent people in prison cells (I would say innocent, but in a technical sense, they are not innocent).

Re:Police side of things. (1)

Trent Hawkins (1093109) | more than 3 years ago | (#34635118)

I don't know about the US but in Canada edited videos or ones out of context are thrown out of such cases. So realistically this is a complete straw man.

Re:Police side of things. (1)

interkin3tic (1469267) | more than 3 years ago | (#34635198)

in his eyes its another way to get innocent police officers in trouble since a lot of the videos that have implicated officers in the past have lacked any context

Tell him he shouldn't throw the baby out with the bathwater. Just because some people are going to show videos out of context, to make good cops look bad, that doesn't justify being opposed to the whole thing.

It would be as bad as if I said that since some cops are corrupt, some cops are violent thugs, and some cops are racist, we ought to do away with all law enforcement.

The police should embrace public video (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34634586)

A recent Canadian survey shows that people, while they overwhelmingly still support the police, do not support them as much as they used to.

We have had several police abuses of power that came to light only because of video. The worst was the killing of a Polish man at Vancouver airport. Also we had the beating of innocent people during demonstrations at the recent G20 meeting in Toronto.

An officer has been charged in one of the G20 beatings because video made it possible to identify him.

The disturbing thing is that the police stood in solidarity with their brother officers in their own Mafia style code of silence. Only one officer could be found who was willing to identify those seen in the videos.

It won't take too many more incidents before the population turns on the police. They have had the benefit of the doubt until now. At some point that will end. The police, if they knew what is good for them, should embrace video as a tool for cleaning out the goons who should never be allowed to wear a badge.

Illegal Wiretapping by the Gov? (5, Insightful)

purpledinoz (573045) | more than 3 years ago | (#34634622)

So the government can illegally wiretap its citizens with no punishment. But a citizen can be arbitrarily thrown in jail for recording a cop? This sounds like a story that would come out of the former East Germany. Not the United States of America.

Re:Illegal Wiretapping by the Gov? (1)

MozeeToby (1163751) | more than 3 years ago | (#34635002)

So, does anyone have a simple resource to see what the laws and/or precedents are in place in each state? I haven't seen either my home or current states in any of the several articles I've read on the subject but there's really no way of knowing for sure. Of course, this is part of the root of the problem, the legal code is so convoluted and full of legalese that you can't just do a simple DB search to get answers to your questions, you'd probably need to contact your state's Attorney General to get a for sure answer (and even then you don't really know for sure).

Its not the video... (3, Interesting)

MDillenbeck (1739920) | more than 3 years ago | (#34634640)

Its not the video recording that is the issue, it is the audio. There are states where you cannot record audio without both parties being aware of the recording. Believe it or not, this is done for your protection. Thus, if you are like the biker who got pulled over while using a helmet cam, my advice would be wearing a T-shirt that states by being in your presence you are agreeing to be audio recorded.

Re:Its not the video... (5, Funny)

TheL0ser (1955440) | more than 3 years ago | (#34634752)

my advice would be wearing a T-shirt that states by being in your presence you are agreeing to be audio recorded.

Congratulations! You, sir, have just invented the EULA and won yourself the obligatory xkcd [xkcd.com] .

Re:Its not the video... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34634844)

This is true, for example in Oregon I know during a traffic stop if a police officer has a video camera in the car and carrying the remote mic on them they have to tell you when they first approach you that your voice is being recorded.

Re:Its not the video... (1)

Entropius (188861) | more than 3 years ago | (#34634942)

Don't most of those states also have a rule that if A notifies B that A is recording their conversation, and B consents, then B is also allowed to record the conversation?

Seems like if the cops want to use two-party wiretapping laws against the citizenry then they shouldn't be able to record either -- and that includes an open radio loop.

Recording the Police (5, Funny)

PCM2 (4486) | more than 3 years ago | (#34634734)

I believe the key to recording the Police is never to let Andy Summers solo for more than one measure. All the musicians went a little wild with the improvisations on the recent reunion tours and I think the songs suffered for the lack of restraint.

Re:Recording the Police (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34635044)

It would be OK if they were as good at real improv as Fripp or as prepared with fake improv as Gilmour.

Well then, CHANGE the law. (5, Insightful)

MarkvW (1037596) | more than 3 years ago | (#34634838)

In many States, citizens possess the power of initiative, where laws can be presented directly to the people.

A law that decriminalizes recording law enforcement officers acting within the scope of their duties or acting during their working hours (and immunizes the same conduct) is something, I suspect, that the general voting population would support.

If you care, get out there, conspire with others and ACT. I guarantee that you will be surprised at your results.

Look at what the no-tax freaks accomplished. It IS possible--don't let the naysayers with their weak arguments keep you down. Look at the crime victims' bill of rights that many states now have--those generally come from citizen activity!

There is almost zero downside to political activism of this sort in the US. You won't get killed (like you might in some other country) and you are likely to face negligible negative consequences. The worst that can likely happen is that you will fail. But think of all that you will learn in the process: Media manipulation . . . public speaking . . . organization . . . logistics . . .. That experience will make you more effective the next time . . .

And then you will be a politician, my son.

Now, get off my lawn!

Re:Well then, CHANGE the law. (1)

BobMcD (601576) | more than 3 years ago | (#34634946)

Yes, this. We need to make this happen.

Could we, maybe, also up the ante just a bit?

I'd love to see a law where it was likewise illegal for any public employee to LIE during any interactions with the public. This should apply to anyone presently receiving tax dollars in compensation for their actions, and the penalties should be identical to perjury.

Who's with me?

Re:Well then, CHANGE the law. (1)

Whorhay (1319089) | more than 3 years ago | (#34635104)

I don't know about making it identical to perjury. But it should definitely be grounds for immediate dismissal should it be proven that the lie was deliberate.

Re:Well then, CHANGE the law. (1)

BobMcD (601576) | more than 3 years ago | (#34635142)

Well, it shouldn't be something one does to our public officials by surprise, by any means - but I really do think that it is a reasonable rule:

If you're on the clock, you cannot lie, under penalty of law.

Any public official that wasn't okay with this could reasonably seek private employment, right?

Re:Well then, CHANGE the law. (1)

rhizome (115711) | more than 3 years ago | (#34635184)

If you're on the clock, you cannot lie, under penalty of law.

Where do you draw the line between lying and shading the truth? Be specific.

Re:Well then, CHANGE the law. (1)

TheL0ser (1955440) | more than 3 years ago | (#34635168)

I'd love to see a law where it was likewise illegal for any public employee to LIE during any interactions with the public.

Finally, cops will actually have to answer the question "Are you a cop?" truthfully.

Also, I have to throw this in: "Mr. Congressman, boxers or briefs?"

Re:Well then, CHANGE the law. (1)

BobMcD (601576) | more than 3 years ago | (#34635212)

I'd love to see a law where it was likewise illegal for any public employee to LIE during any interactions with the public.

Finally, cops will actually have to answer the question "Are you a cop?" truthfully.

Also, I have to throw this in: "Mr. Congressman, boxers or briefs?"

I'm willing to allow lies by omission. I'm pretty confident that the perjury laws do as well.

Captain Obvious (1)

DaMattster (977781) | more than 3 years ago | (#34634866)

I know I am being Captain Obvious by saying this but filming the police keeps them honest. In times when police are prone to abusing their authority, there needs to be a check to their power. Police don't like it for obvious reasons but a film could potentially exonerate a police officer wrongfully accused of a crime.

Whats the difference (1)

thechristelegacy (756228) | more than 3 years ago | (#34634950)

After RTFA the one question I have is what's the difference between a civilian using a camera without the officers consent and it being a federal crime for wiretapping and the cameras used in police cars that show up on Cops and all the other out-of-control-crazy-driver videos? Does the same apply to network television such as to catch a predator? I just don't understand why it's okay for the police to do it, but when a civilian does it its a crime.

Give Credit/Source? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34634974)

Umm, why not Give Radley Balko some credit, he has been writing on this for quite some time and the article linked is just a summary of his article: http://reason.com/archives/2010/12/07/the-war-on-cameras

For everyone saying "There should be a law..." (1)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 3 years ago | (#34634988)

There can be one. It's easy - you just have to convince enough people to vote for you, then enough of your fellow legislators to agree with you, and you can pass any law you like. Go to it.

Re:For everyone saying "There should be a law..." (1)

Jozef Nagy (1082101) | more than 3 years ago | (#34635190)

You're thinking of an elected dictator. In the US system it takes many more people like the one you described before a bill becomes law. I fear the day a lone man can do it all.

It doesn't matter. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34635108)

It doesn't matter. The police are killing people and not being held accountable. When video evidence is present they are taking the evidence and destroying it. The police state is here.

If you state that you're recording... (1)

martinux (1742570) | more than 3 years ago | (#34635242)

If you have a shirt or car-sticker that clearly states that you're recording does that cover you or will the cops just see that as perverting the course of 'justice'?

The cops should have nothing to fear ... (1)

fiannaFailMan (702447) | more than 3 years ago | (#34635244)

... if they have nothing to hide.

Sauce for the goose and all that.

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