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US Justice Dept Defends Right To Record Police

samzenpus posted more than 2 years ago | from the watching-the-watchers dept.

Privacy 306

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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306 comments

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that first sentence (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40035923)

what is this, i don't even

Re:that first sentence (-1, Offtopic)

Internetuser1248 (1787630) | more than 2 years ago | (#40036061)

In recent times, it seems that 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 US 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.

It's less a sentence and more a stream of consciousness. Maybe some extra full stops would help

Re:that first sentence (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40036363)

It's a sentence. Just because we have insisted on simplifying everything down to where those who can barely read at a 2nd grade level can "understand" it, that doesn't mean that complex sentences that express a sophisticated set of connected ideas are invalid.

Re:that first sentence (1)

Fluffeh (1273756) | more than 2 years ago | (#40036539)

Wow, thanks AC! You just brightened my day back up after reading the first few posts.

Re:that first sentence (-1, Troll)

jeffb (2.718) (1189693) | more than 2 years ago | (#40036631)

I'm sure you're very proud that you read above 2nd grade level, but when you get to seventh or eighth grade, you'll find that your teachers call this a "run-on sentence", and penalize you for writing such sentences yourself. They'll also point out that "US Justice Department has sent letter" is missing an article.

Re:that first sentence (4, Informative)

psiclops (1011105) | more than 2 years ago | (#40036927)

but when you get to seventh or eighth grade, you'll find that your teachers call this a "run-on sentence", and penalize you for writing such sentences yourself.

No they wouldn't. because the schools i went to had english teachers who understood the language. hint:just because a sentence is long does not make it a run-on sentence.

They'll also point out that "US Justice Department has sent letter" is missing an article.

what would you call that word before it.

Re:that first sentence (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40036973)

I would generally call "sent" a verb. Also, the sentence really needs a comma between war and with.

Re:that first sentence (0)

TheRealMindChild (743925) | more than 2 years ago | (#40037135)

You can't really argue that you know better, when you don't capitalize the first letter of a sentence, or "I".

Re:that first sentence (-1, Troll)

joocemann (1273720) | more than 2 years ago | (#40037201)

Are you new to the internet? i'm serious.

Re:that first sentence (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40037027)

They'll also point out that "US Justice Department has sent letter" is missing an article.

So we can't RTFA then?

Re:that first sentence (2)

LocalH (28506) | more than 2 years ago | (#40037251)

Yeah, but it's an awkward sentence. I can make a very minor modification and make it flow much better:

In recent times, it seems that 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. In a surprising twist, the US Justice Department has sent a letter to attorneys for the Baltimore Police Department, who have been quite heavy handed in enforcing their 'Don't record me bro!' mantra.

Re:that first sentence (1, Insightful)

reboot246 (623534) | more than 2 years ago | (#40036567)

"In recent times, it seems that 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, . . . . . "

Remove the comma after 'times' and put it after 'war'.

It's simply very poor sentence construction so typical of the younger generation. Did none of you pay attention in English class?!?

About time (5, Insightful)

honestmonkey (819408) | more than 2 years ago | (#40035969)

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:About time (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40036337)

How bigoted of you.

Re:About time (5, Interesting)

AngryDeuce (2205124) | more than 2 years ago | (#40036365)

When simply asking for a complaint form gets you arrested [youtube.com] in police departments all over the country, I'd say his description is pretty accurate.

The Largest Street Gang in America [youtube.com]

Re:About time (2)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 2 years ago | (#40036821)

You don't ask for a complaint form; you say you want to file a police report. That STILL might get you arrested but you'll have a highly entertaining story to tell your lawyer.

Re:About time (1)

Zero__Kelvin (151819) | more than 2 years ago | (#40036383)

Maybe he's a cop

Re:About time (3, Informative)

Isaac-Lew (623) | more than 2 years ago | (#40036423)

Response: "The photos that the defendant automatically copied to (insert webhost/cloudhost here)"

Re:About time (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40036793)

Seriously, you take the actions of a small percentile of cops to represent the masses?

Re:About time (5, Insightful)

chuckymonkey (1059244) | more than 2 years ago | (#40036893)

I know I'm responding to an AC here, but I think this needs to be said. Every cop is culpable for the actions of these bad cops because almost none of them stand up for what's right. What happens to these guys is they're put on paid vacation for a couple weeks until everyone forgets that they did something, no matter how heinous or egregious the violation was. When the rest of the police force stands up and starts throwing the bad cops out to the curb, then I'll stop lumping them in together. Until then, they're all in cahoots as far as I'm concerned and I'll avoid dealing with them by whatever means I have.

Re:About time (5, Interesting)

JoeMerchant (803320) | more than 2 years ago | (#40037311)

I've known an awful lot of "good" cops, but you're right, the good ones won't step up to do anything about the few "bad" ones that there are.

Re:About time (1)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 2 years ago | (#40036921)

Of course. Did "the masses" arrest that "small percentile" when they abused their positions?

No? So they're equally guilty then.

Re:About time (5, Insightful)

bratwiz (635601) | more than 2 years ago | (#40037017)

Seriously, you take the actions of a small percentile of cops to represent the masses?

It's the actions of a small percentile of cops that ARE the problem. So what's your point? If you happen to be misfortunate enough to have a run-in with one of them, that's all that will matter. Not how many others or what the percentages are-- just that one cop. He'll be a 100% dick and will be busy fucking up your day. But you can console yourself as you're getting ass-raped by the four biker dudes with skull tattoos that it's really not that big a problem for everybody else.

Re:About time (3, Insightful)

bky1701 (979071) | more than 2 years ago | (#40037313)

It isn't a small percentile when it is systematic procedure in some departments, a procedure seemingly unchallenged by those in it. No, it is a representation of the masses of police. If they disagree, they should stand up. Their silence is agreement.

Re:About time (3, Insightful)

SwedishPenguin (1035756) | more than 2 years ago | (#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 (5, Informative)

IonOtter (629215) | more than 2 years ago | (#40037479)

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.

Re:About time (5, Insightful)

archieaa (961120) | more than 2 years ago | (#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.

We disagree (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40035989)

Dear Justice Department,

We disagree.

Sincerely,
The Police Departments of America

Re:We disagree (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40036043)

Strongly reminiscent of an Andrew Jackson quote:

"John Marshal (a supreme court justice) has made his decision, now let him enforce it"

*sigh*

Why delete the recordings? (5, Insightful)

guanxi (216397) | more than 2 years ago | (#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.)

Re:Why delete the recordings? (2)

Nocturnal Deviant (974688) | more than 2 years ago | (#40036099)

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

Re:Why delete the recordings? (5, Funny)

guanxi (216397) | more than 2 years ago | (#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:Why delete the recordings? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40036253)

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.

Re:Why delete the recordings? (5, Insightful)

Nocturnal Deviant (974688) | more than 2 years ago | (#40036359)

what guanxi said makes no sense.

It is very relevant, because the ones who have RECORDED it, recorded themselves being harassed and police have been trying to get those thrown out at court.

Re:Why delete the recordings? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40036107)

Re: The rare reason

Exactly that!

We must preserve the privacy of unarmed, peaceful people lying dead on the ground.

Re:Why delete the recordings? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40036159)

If it occurs in a public place, neither the officer or citizen have any reasonable expectation of privacy.

Re:Why delete the recordings? (2)

crashumbc (1221174) | more than 2 years ago | (#40036555)

LOL common sense and reason have no bearing here AC,,,

Re:Why delete the recordings? (2)

Concerned Onlooker (473481) | more than 2 years ago | (#40036697)

Common sense and reason have nothing to do with it. it is the law that if you are in public you are fair game for non-commercial photography.

Re:Why delete the recordings? (1)

hot soldering iron (800102) | more than 2 years ago | (#40036983)

Apparently the Police Departments of America disagree with this law, and feel that it doesn't apply to them. That's what the big pissing match is all about.

Re:Why delete the recordings? (1)

aliquis (678370) | more than 2 years ago | (#40036729)

I think it was suggested or changed into or decided in some places that parents isn't allowed to take photos of their children at kindergarten at say Lucia, Christmas celebration and I suppose school endings and such over here in Sweden because everyone who takes a photo of children is a pedophile!

Our highest court will also decide whatever Manga/Hentai is children pornography or not because it has been ruled as such at the lower courts.

Fucking retarded. No victim and similar to an action movie. OH THE HORRORS! WILL SOMEONE PLEASE THINK OF THE PAPER!

Re:Why delete the recordings? (2)

aliquis (678370) | more than 2 years ago | (#40036845)

It's going down quickly over here.

Earlier Wikileaks and Assange wanted to be here, we had The Pirate Bay of course and as I understood it the old / regular photography rules over here is more or less that you'd free to shoot anything except "skyddsobjekt" ("protected object") with photography ban (some military and electricity property for instance.) Stores for instance can't really "ban" you (AFAIK/U - IANAL) from taking a photo but they can of course ask you to leave for whatever reason so if they have a sign telling you to not take photos and you do anyway they can tell you to leave but not remove your photos (AFAIK - IANAL.)

But things move fast in the wrong direction. More surveillance, more "terrorist protection", less freedom. US and UK copy cats (and I guess the US may even "suggest" how we can improve things to their likening ...)

I doubt the old Sweden would need protection against Muslims blowing up themselves. But not being without alliances and not interfering except peace keeping (maybe that's more or less only what we still do but whatever, we listen to Nato at least) make us targets to. Media focus on the Muhammed drawings and the excessive immigration and possible response from that can't help either. Even though the immigration and huge amount of Muslims probably should had been seen and spread as something positive.

I don't care for Muslims myself and are no threat whatsoever but for egoistic reasons I think we should had spent the money on ourselves or help people help themselves where they live (I think capitalism/globalization can do that to though) and I don't want a Sharia majority in the government and Sharia laws just as I don't want Christians force their crap on us either (can't understand all the God and christian focus over at the US either.)

Re:Why delete the recordings? (1)

bratwiz (635601) | more than 2 years ago | (#40037033)

If it occurs in a public place, neither the officer or citizen have any reasonable expectation of privacy.

Especially if the citizen is busy being dead.

Re:Why delete the recordings? (5, Insightful)

Tastecicles (1153671) | more than 2 years ago | (#40037223)

POLICE OFFICERS are public servants. Into that, read: as long as they wear the UNIFORM they represent (or are supposed to) the LAW, and are responsible for making sure it is upheld in a VISIBLE MANNER. When they fuck up, they should expect to be called on it. Publicly.

With that uniform and the visibility comes the realisation that one HAS NO PRIVACY. If one cannot accept that, then one has NO BUSINESS WEARING THE UNIFORM.

Re:Why delete the recordings? (5, Insightful)

sed quid in infernos (1167989) | more than 2 years ago | (#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.

Re:Why delete the recordings? (5, Insightful)

Jason Levine (196982) | more than 2 years ago | (#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.

Re:Why delete the recordings? (5, Informative)

AngryDeuce (2205124) | more than 2 years ago | (#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!!

Re:Why delete the recordings? (-1, Troll)

Aryden (1872756) | more than 2 years ago | (#40037155)

Yeah I read that story. I moved to Baltimore and my daughter lives in PG county. I can't get on board with McCarren on this one. If you are following a government official in an unmarked vehicle, noticeably, there is going to be a very negative police response. This is pretty much everywhere. As for her overly extreme recuperation time and rehabilitation, I cant get on that one either. Both of my shoulders have been dislocated numerous times and never has it taken months to heal up.

Re:Why delete the recordings? (4, Insightful)

joocemann (1273720) | more than 2 years ago | (#40037363)

9 dashcams failed, and you're an apologist? Please go away to some crappy country that deserves such foolish citizens.

Re:Why delete the recordings? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40036755)

People in public places have no "reasonable expectation of privacy". It would be somewhat different if someone was being arrested in their home.

Re:Why delete the recordings? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40037001)

Someone in their own home is free to make whatever recordings they want to including a police officer arresting them. If not we're in trouble.

Re:Why delete the recordings? (2)

Aryden (1872756) | more than 2 years ago | (#40037011)

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.

Re:Why delete the recordings? (4, Informative)

J'raxis (248192) | more than 2 years ago | (#40037175)

(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.

destruction of property is a crime (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#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:destruction of property is a crime (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40036213)

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

They stand together, they can hang together.

Re:destruction of property is a crime (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40036259)

That wouldn't be a federal crime. To be a federal crime the Congress must have jurisdiction, and about the only which might give them jurisdiction in such a scenario is the 14th Amendment. They'd need to pass a law in furtherance of 14th Amendment protections which made destroying your camera this way a crime. But as far as I know there is no such thing.

At best the person might have a federal civil remedy: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Civil_Rights_Act_of_1871#As_later_amended_and_codified_as_section_1983

Re:destruction of property is a crime (4, Insightful)

ifwm (687373) | more than 2 years ago | (#40036583)

"That wouldn't be a federal crime. " Incorrect, it would in fact be a violation of both the 1st and 14th. The FBI is tasked with investigating civil rights violations by police departments, which this is. Glad I could educate you.

Re:destruction of property is a crime (4, Informative)

ifwm (687373) | more than 2 years ago | (#40036597)

"That wouldn't be a federal crime. " And as an aside, it would also be a violation of the 4th, another civil rights violation. Happy to educate you again.

Re:destruction of property is a crime (2)

TheABomb (180342) | more than 2 years ago | (#40037217)

Haha, quaint.

Re:destruction of property is a crime (4, Insightful)

p0p0 (1841106) | more than 2 years ago | (#40036269)

The reality is if they do it again they'll be put on suspension with pay for 6 months. Easiest vacation ever.

Re:destruction of property is a crime (1)

joe_frisch (1366229) | more than 2 years ago | (#40036343)

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.

Re:destruction of property is a crime (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40036641)

Additionally:

Destruction of evidence and evidence tampering are also crimes. The images and sounds recorded are evidence. Being as citizens can make a citizen's arrest then the officers are potentially interfering with the performance of the citizen's duty. IANAL but to me those things and more are true.

The government has gone way too far in exempting itself and its agents from the law of the land. It is good when they finally admit the citizen has some rights.

Re:destruction of property is a crime (1)

Aryden (1872756) | more than 2 years ago | (#40037173)

police orders trump any "personal arrest" or "citizen's arrest"

One good thing about the cloud... (4, Informative)

mark-t (151149) | more than 2 years ago | (#40036193)

...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.

Re:One good thing about the cloud... (1)

boxxertrumps (1124859) | more than 2 years ago | (#40036227)

But it is already possible :/

Re:One good thing about the cloud... (1)

mark-t (151149) | more than 2 years ago | (#40036277)

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.

Re:One good thing about the cloud... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40036851)

http://www.color.com/

I know nothing about it, just saw a commercial on tv (must be true since I saw it on tv)

Re:One good thing about the cloud... (2)

J'raxis (248192) | more than 2 years ago | (#40036981)

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

Incredible (1)

interval1066 (668936) | more than 2 years ago | (#40036267)

Sanity prevails.

As A Baltimoron : (1)

SuspectNumber3 (2623637) | more than 2 years ago | (#40036349)

Hopefully this will reduce the agressive nature of those in parking enforcement.

Next we will need to move to the more difficult task of the patrol officers.

Re:As A Baltimoron : (1)

J'raxis (248192) | more than 2 years ago | (#40037069)

Or you could just move [freestateproject.org] out of the hellhole that is Maryland and somewhere freer. :)

There are a large number of activists fighting the right-to-record battle in New Hampshire, and we're winning quite handily. There were a number of people in the Town of Weare who were arrested and charged with felonies for recording a traffic stop. After the criminal cases were dismissed or dropped, the U.S. District Court, First Circuit (which covers New Hampshire) coincidentally released a highly positive ruling, Glik v. Cunniffe, 655 F.3d 78 (1st Cir. 2011), regarding someone similarly abused by police in Boston. Glik got $170,000 in damages. Now the New Hampshire activists are all suing the Weare cops, demanding similar damages, and they'll most likely prevail.

It Won't Really End Until... (4, Insightful)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 2 years ago | (#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.

Re:It Won't Really End Until... (2)

demonlapin (527802) | more than 2 years ago | (#40036627)

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.

Re:It Won't Really End Until... (5, Informative)

garcia (6573) | more than 2 years ago | (#40036743)

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.

Re:It Won't Really End Until... (4, Informative)

J'raxis (248192) | more than 2 years ago | (#40037273)

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.

Get ready Here it comes...... (4, Insightful)

Ol Olsoc (1175323) | more than 2 years ago | (#40036437)

If they are doing nothing wrong, then they should not have any problem whatsoever allowing recordings.

Re:Get ready Here it comes...... (1)

joocemann (1273720) | more than 2 years ago | (#40037395)

L m f a o. well played.

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? (2)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 2 years ago | (#40036441)

latin for "Who watches the watchmen?"

it seems we have finally answered the ancient conundrum:

everyone, on youtube

Re:Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40037063)

More than likely it's "Sed non culpa mea est...."

Doesn't matter -- wait for the G8 (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40036455)

The Police will ignore this "memo" and continue with their illegal activities. The DOJ will not further pursue this and there will be no repercussion whatsoever.

What for the day after the G8 summit and we will right back on /. reading about police camera confiscation.

I can see the cops laughing... (1)

spagthorpe (111133) | more than 2 years ago | (#40036513)

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

Re:I can see the cops laughing... (2)

Tastecicles (1153671) | more than 2 years ago | (#40037297)

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!

Maryland is a corrupt shithole. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40036515)

If you are even IN Maryland, you have made a serious
error in judgement.

I used to live there.

I won't even drive through the place now.

They can have it, every last bit, there are far better places to live.

Something Good (5, Insightful)

ToastedRhino (2015614) | more than 2 years ago | (#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.

Re:Something Good (1)

geminidomino (614729) | more than 2 years ago | (#40037225)

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 (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#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.

Re:Something Good (1)

hyades1 (1149581) | more than 2 years ago | (#40037513)

Here's me with no Mod Points and you with a big, fat zero. That is NOT right! Yours is one of the most interesting comments I've read here in quite some time.

Re:Something Good (2)

bky1701 (979071) | more than 2 years ago | (#40037337)

"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.

Re:Something Good (2)

joocemann (1273720) | more than 2 years ago | (#40037455)

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 officer didn't show. IMHO the officer owes the court fees and should be fired. The reality is, law on your side or not, the good ole boy system is much deeper than you seem to think.

Just in time (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40036581)

for the NATO summit in Chicago.

Defy them. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40036737)

The only way to truely get them to stop is to organize a 24 hour a day filming of all cops all the time in Baltimore. I think we have enough cell phones out there to do it, too. Film the Police. (sorry any NWA fans).

Re:Defy them. (3, Informative)

J'raxis (248192) | more than 2 years ago | (#40037093)

Ever heard of Cop Block [copblock.org] ? Not 24-hour recording, but a similar idea of always keeping the cops on-the-record.

Re:Defy them. (1)

BitZtream (692029) | more than 2 years ago | (#40037299)

Film the Police. (sorry any NWA fans).

Film F-Film Fi-film the police.

Film'um

heh, classic

Re:Defy them. (1)

LocalH (28506) | more than 2 years ago | (#40037419)

Findum, Filmum, and Flee

why are they saying this? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40036947)

The pattern and trend of the Obama DOJ (or of any president) does not support the assumption they are trying to protect the rights of the people. Just look at recent court cases and filings. Instead I would have to assume they want those devices saved so they can be seized and the contents inspected or the wireless communication intercepted. That is something more in line with what the DOJ would like to see happen.

Of course it is for our own good, don't you know?

Dept. of "Justice" on the right side? (1)

J'raxis (248192) | more than 2 years ago | (#40036957)

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

who really take the DOJ at face value? (0)

kallen3 (171792) | more than 2 years ago | (#40037035)

They always have an ulterior motive. Most likely they see a way to more closely monitor those who would film the police and of course of the device is destroyed or confiscated then it would make it just that much harder for the "authorities" to protect you from all of those nasty terrorists.

Your government in action.

This is disappointing (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#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! (4, Informative)

reboot246 (623534) | more than 2 years ago | (#40037219)

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.

Re:Sue them! (1)

J'raxis (248192) | more than 2 years ago | (#40037305)

Indeed, like Glik v. Cunniffe, 655 F.3d 78 (1st Cir. 2011) [google.com] . Glik got $170,000 from Boston over this kind of police abuse. Similar lawsuits [google.com] are underway in New Hampshire against cops from the Town of Weare; New Hampshire is part of the First Circuit, so we can guess how these cases will go. :)

Sounds like intentional destruction of evidence (1)

BitZtream (692029) | more than 2 years ago | (#40037283)

Which is already pretty illegal everywhere.

The fact that we're even having to have this discussion is an indication our police forces need to be replaced. Any enforcement agent destroying evidence should be consider guilt of pretty much anything the own of the recording device wants to charge them with, regardless of actual guilt.

You only destroy evidence when you've broken the law yourself or are covering up for someone else.

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