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Citizen Photographers v. The Police?

timothy posted more than 7 years ago | from the oh-no dept.

407

Several hundred readers commented on yesterday's Slashdot post about citizens arrested for photographing police either in public or in the photographer's own property. Read on for some of the comments which defined the conversation in today's Backslash summary.Anthony Boyd is one of the readers whose inclination to believe the police is mitigated by the facts as reported in the case of Philadelphia's Neftaly Cruz:

"Police told Hairston that they did take Cruz into to custody, but they said Cruz was not on his property when they arrested him."

OK. I'm more inclined to believe the cops... wait a second...

"A neighbor said she witnessed the incident and could not believe what she saw."

"He opened up the gate and Neffy was coming down and he went up to Neffy, pulled him down...

Oh, you dumb, dumb cops. Of course Neftaly Cruz was "not on his property" during the arrest if you went onto his property and dragged him off! Why would you do that in front of witnesses?

To tomstdenis's argument that, even if the police really did violate people's rights, they should be treated leniently because "[P]olice are people and do bad things," reader alienmole points out a crucial difference:

The difference is that police have powers which ordinary citizens don't have, so when police do bad things, it can have severe consequences. Quite often, they're not held accountable for that, which again results from an abuse of power. That's what this is all about: accountability for the actions of public servants, particularly those with extraordinary powers. Cops in general are not the enemy, but bad cops are certainly an enemy which needs to be guarded against and eradicated whenever possible.

Reader BINC wants to know whether Pennsylvania actually has a law which would illegalize Neftaly Cruz's cellphone photo of police in the act of arresting a suspect. He writes

This seems to be part of a national push. In Montana it extends beyond photography. I have recently been threatened with being charged with "Obstructing" for not yielding to a warrantless search of my property, so I looked it up. See data.opi.mt.gov/bills/mca/45/7/45-7-302.htm especially paragraph (2). !!

General defense in Montana is insisting on trial by jury — provided one represents himself; otherwise it invites rapid bankruptcy — but trial by jury is not guaranteed by all states' consitutions for all crimes.

Many readers linked to online information and commentary on the recognized rights of photographers (at least in the U.S.). Reader pen was one of several to point to Bert Krages' site:

Here is a handy pamphlet called The Photographer's Right that provides some advice for dealing with a situation like this.

Reader hacker linked to an informative PDF and offers a useful summary:

Except in special circumstances (e.g., certain government facilities), there are no laws prohibiting the taking of photographs on public or private property. If you can be there, you can take pictures there: streets, malls, parking lots, office buildings. You do not need permission to do so, even on private property.

Trespassing laws naturally apply. If a property owner demands you leave, you must. But if a place is open to the public — a mall, office-building lobby, etc. — permission to enter is assumed (although it can be revoked).

In terms of the law, trespass and photography are separate events; the former is illegal, but the latter is not. Only if the use of photographic equipment itself violates a person's privacy (e.g., by using a long lens to look into someone's private room) might it violate privacy law. Further, while people have a right of privacy, businesses do not except as it relates to trade secrets.

Subject to specific limits, photographers can publish any photos they take, provided those photos do not violate the privacy of the subject. This includes photos taken while trespassing or otherwise being someplace they shouldn't be. Taking photos and publishing photos are two separate issues.

Please read the full PDF here with much more detail. I print copies of this on 4x5 index cards and keep them with me at all times when I'm taking photos in any public place.

Also, if someone demands your "film" or your camera, let them know that it is not legal for them to take it, unless you have been arrested of a crime involving that camera and that film. The crime for someone to demand and take your camera or film, is called theft, and threatening to do so (or to "break your camera"), is called coercion. Don't tolerate either of them, and if your equipment IS taken or broken, call the police and file charges.

PsychosisC contributed a link to a short video called " BUSTED - The Citizen's Guide to Surviving Police Encounters," writing "I've only had two encounters with police officers... but both of them sort of leave me thinking less of them."

Rights on paper aside, many readers posted horror stories of arrest-happy police; leereyno pointed to one that made the news in the Mid-Atlantic region, writing

[T]here does seem to be an increase in cases of police officers getting confused and thinking they work for the Gestapo. There was a case a month back or so where the daughter of a police officer was arrested for "trespassing." She and a friend were lost and had stopped to ask a police officer for directions. The officer refused to help them, stating that they would have to find their own way out. A few moments later they spotted another officer and drove over to where he was to ask for help, at which point the first officer rushed over and berated them for daring to ask her partner for help when she had already told them to get lost. ... A few minutes later these same officers arrested them for "trespassing" ..... on a public street. The girl and her friend spent the night in jail. They weren't charged of course because they hadn't committed any crime.

I don't know how this case turned out for the officers involved, but it shows a serious lack of oversight when two cops are able to run wild and abuse the public in that manner.

[...]

In most parts of the world, being a police officer is met with about the same level of respect as a personal injury lawyer would be here, if not less. The police are held in contempt because in most parts of the world, particularly the 3rd world, corruption and abuse are almost part of the job. Police officers in the U.S. are, at least among healthy segments of society, viewed with respect if not admiration. But this esteem is fragile because at the end of the day the police are armed agents of the state and that makes them difficult to love. So when officers abuse and betray the trust of the public and make false arrests, all it does is make life that much more difficult for them and and their fellow officers. Things like these are noticed, and remembered.

According to reader rs79, this sort of thing on wouldn't happen north of the border; rs79 writes "I've photographed cops here in Canada arresting people a couple of times. They don't care." To this, RajivSLK says

It's not so rosy up here in Canada. This past Canada Day the Victoria police instituted a policy of mandatory searches on all buses heading downtown. They can get away with this because, on Canada Day, the bus is used mostly by young people going to clubs. I objected to being searched thinking that I would simply not be allowed back on the bus. Instead, to my complete surprise, the officer began to become very verbally abusive and I was arrested for "Drunk and Disorderly Conduct."

No breathalizer, no sobriety test, nothing. 100% solely based upon the officers "observation." I was processed and thrown into a dirty cement holding cell that lacked even toilet paper let alone a bed. As it stands, the Victoria police can arrest anyone at anytime under the charge of "Drunk and Disorderly" with no evidence and no sobriety test.

I can't wait for the day when *I* can video tape everything. That should provide a little balance to things.

ZorbaTHut suggests the sort of technological answer that RajivSLK's looking for, which might remind Neal Stephenson fans of the "gargoyles" in Snowcrash.

I've been waiting for a mini-stealth-camera-and-recorder to appear. I want a little device, the size of a cellphone camera, that fits in a button or a necklace or a belt buckle or something equally inconspicuous. It should be connected to a waist controller, which would include battery pack, storage (hard drive or flash), and wifi. Wifi so that, whenever it can find an available internet connection, it can upload its contents to a secure server located elsewhere.

Just imagine that. "Sorry sir, you took a picture of something you weren't supposed to. I'm going to have to confiscate your camera." "The pictures are already in Texas, and in ten minutes they'll be posted online. Same as the recording of what you're saying right now. You really want to illegally take my possessions, Officer Frank, Number 3894?"


Many thanks to the readers (especially those quoted above) whose comments informed this discussion.

cancel ×

407 comments

The bottom line is this (5, Insightful)

daveschroeder (516195) | more than 7 years ago | (#15819547)

This was a local police department, they were in the wrong, they guy was released, and hopefully the citizen and/or others who are concerned will press this so that the officer(s) involved are subject to some sort of corrective action.

This is, however, NOT representative of a "police state" or anything like what some in the original article went on about. This is also not 1984, nor is it because of the "environment fostered by the PATRIOT Act" or the Bush administration, or anything similar.

It's an action of a local municipal police department, period. These inappropriate actions have been executed by people in positions of authority since the beginning of time. The point is we heard about it, it got covered, and hopefully it will be corrected. And hopefully the police department will issue a directive to think twice before they harass and/or arrest other citizens who aren't doing anything wrong from exercising their own rights.

Re:The bottom line is this (4, Insightful)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 7 years ago | (#15819642)

This is, however, NOT representative of a "police state" or anything like what some in the original article went on about. This is also not 1984, nor is it because of the "environment fostered by the PATRIOT Act" or the Bush administration, or anything similar.

Holy shit! I think we just found the world's only omniscient individual.

First of all, the future depicted in 1984 is fast approaching, or did you miss the fact that there's a lawsuit proceeding (besides the one just thrown out) against AT&T for allowing the feds to tap their communications? Sure, it's twenty years late, but he was remarkably aware of the date.

is because of the environment fostered by the PATRIOT act. In particular, law enforcement all over the country is utilizing the U SAP AT RIOT act to bypass process and protection. Did you really think that attitude wouldn't become essentially endemic of the freedom-less atmosphere engendered by that piece of trash legislation?

It's an action of a local municipal police department, period.

The corellary to "actions have consequences" is that they also have causes. This didn't just come out of nowhere. Everything that you can see is the result of pressure in other forces. Period. This works at all levels, in all systems; they're not all genetic, but ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny. When you see light, that's the result of photons; those photons were in turn released when an electron's energy state was reduced; that in turn occurred because it was first increased. "Pressure" - or more to the point energy - makes things happen.

Re:The bottom line is this (3, Insightful)

daveschroeder (516195) | more than 7 years ago | (#15819708)

I have absolutely no doubt your comment will be quickly moderated up to +5, with a flurry of violent agreement.

But, to answer your questions honestly:

No, I don't "see" 1984 coming. All I see is a government availing itself of everything possible technologically to do what it believes is the right thing, with technology enabling the kind of massive, omnibus monitoring. Can this be abused? Of that I have no doubt. Do I simultaneously believe that, *at present*, it was done with the sole goal of attempting to protect the US and its interests, economic and otherwise, from a terrorist attack (versus thinking that, for example, the US attacked itself on 9/11, in part as an excuse to have wars and monitor its citizenry)? Absolutely. Should it be watched? Again, absolutely: there was not appropriate oversight, in my view. But I do believe some things should remain classified, period; else, a system of classification has no meaning or purpose.

I do NOT believe anything related to PATRIOT, Bush, or the War on Terror has ANYTHING to do with any type of environment, conditions, or policies in a local police agency in the context of arresting someone for taking pictures with a camera phone. If YOU think that, I guess that is your right. However, I see zero connection, but have no problem believing that people who think we're either headed for a police state, or indeed are already there, see an intense connection between the highest levels of federal government and a local, individual police officer's actions.

Re:The bottom line is this (1, Insightful)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 7 years ago | (#15819944)

All I see is a government availing itself of everything possible technologically to do what it believes is the right thing, with technology enabling the kind of massive, omnibus monitoring.

If this weren't so scary, I'd be laughing my ass off right now. Do you really see the government doing things to benefit the people?

Re:The bottom line is this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15820072)

Sorry to those people who thought this was insightful, but really, what kind of informed rebuttal is this?

"Drinkypoo should be DrinkyKoolAid" is just as insightful a comment.

Re:The bottom line is this (0, Redundant)

Gulthek (12570) | more than 7 years ago | (#15820074)

Laugh your ass off anyway. Whee!

PARENT NOT TROLL (-1, Flamebait)

TomatoMan (93630) | more than 7 years ago | (#15819978)

Mods, fix this.

Re:The bottom line is this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15819736)

Calling today's United States 1984 is becoming cliche fast. We're involved in a war and that is bearing down on our civil rights -- THIS IS NOTHING NEW. Yes, it sucks; yes, it's wrong; no, we don't know yet how far it will go. But for the love of whatever please stop screaming 1984 everytime some douchebag cop poorly represents his district.

Re:The bottom line is this (0)

cayenne8 (626475) | more than 7 years ago | (#15820066)

"Calling today's United States 1984 is becoming cliche fast. We're involved in a war and that is bearing down on our civil rights -- THIS IS NOTHING NEW."

I must say..calling everything the govt. is taking action on a war is also becoming quickly cliche.

I'm tired of this 'war' on terrorism...'war' on drugs...'war' on poverty...etc.

Call them issues or whatever, but, really. If we're in war. Lets actually have congress declare real fucking WAR on something, somewhere, and go in with blinding, overbearing, unyielding violence, and go into to win and win quickly, and get out.

We haven't done anything like that in quite a long time...basically has been since the last time a real WAR was declared...

Re:The bottom line is this (2, Insightful)

Deagol (323173) | more than 7 years ago | (#15820087)

We're involved in a war and that is bearing down on our civil rights -- THIS IS NOTHING NEW.

Of course this isn't new. We are at war. We have always been at war. Oil production is up 13% this year...

Re:The bottom line is this (5, Insightful)

arbarbonif (307596) | more than 7 years ago | (#15820105)

The problem is that, like '1984', we are involved in a war with a nebulous enemy with no real end or finish visible (or perhaps even possible). So when we give up rights for the war on 'terrorism' how can we EVER get them back? Will 'terrorism' give up and sign a surrender? Will the government say "Ok, we didn't need these extra powers after all, so we'll give them up."? I don't see either case happening.

Just because is is a cliche doesn't mean that it is an inaccurate or useless comparison.

Re:The bottom line is this (3, Interesting)

Profane MuthaFucka (574406) | more than 7 years ago | (#15819893)

I think the big deal here is NOT that big brother had a bunch of cameras. Our own government has a lot of cameras, and others do too. Big deal. The problem as I see it is that Winston Smith and his fellows didn't have their own cameras. Only Big Brother had cameras.

When we can't take pictures of our police and our government, and document either the criminal activities or just as importantly the good things that police do, then it's something to worry about.

Citizens, point your cameras at the government.

Re:The bottom line is this (1, Troll)

Ohreally_factor (593551) | more than 7 years ago | (#15819961)

In other words. . . .

In Soviet Russia, police photograph YOU!!

Re:The bottom line is this (4, Interesting)

Andy Gardner (850877) | more than 7 years ago | (#15819721)

Where were the repercussions for the offending officer though?

The simple fact is the police can arrest you at anytime if they don't like what your doing, under the guise of being drunk/abusive/offensive etc. It's more hassle than its worth to try and make a complaint and even then it's unlikely any action will be taken (your word against theirs) also police are just people and 'people make mistakes'. So what happens is as a citizen do you stand up and have the inconvinience of spending the night in a cell? no, it ends up being far easier to just do as they say...

Re:The bottom line is this (1)

daveschroeder (516195) | more than 7 years ago | (#15819769)

No, there haven't been repercussions yet, but there may me (and may already have been internally and unofficially). And if this was indeed wrongful arrest/imprisonment, there may be other more serious ramifications. Now, I understand what you're saying: the guy was still arrested, and if he wants to pursue it, he's got to waste even MORE of his time, and possibly raise the ire of even more cops. Sure, I agree with all that. But the point is, we're all discussing this, and the details of what happened are out (more or less), yes? It wasn't brushed under the rug, and no one was silenced. Yes, a cop could probably walk up to me right now, arrest me for something, and there would be little I could do about it, immediately anyway. But I also have to believe that abuses of the system have mechanisms for recourse and methods via which they can be fixed, including my own ability to press for reform or to bring issues to light. I would imagine that if this was a totally bogus, unwarranted, and inappropriate arrest, there will be consequences for the officer(s) involved, however minor.

Re:The bottom line is this (0)

kabocox (199019) | more than 7 years ago | (#15819941)

Where were the repercussions for the offending officer though?

The simple fact is the police can arrest you at anytime if they don't like what your doing, under the guise of being drunk/abusive/offensive etc. It's more hassle than its worth to try and make a complaint and even then it's unlikely any action will be taken (your word against theirs) also police are just people and 'people make mistakes'. So what happens is as a citizen do you stand up and have the inconvinience of spending the night in a cell? no, it ends up being far easier to just do as they say...


Most likely nothing. And that's as it should be. Why? Because he most likely thought that he was in the right. All the police can do is arrest you. Here is the secret though, once you are in jail, you can easily get out through lawyers and the justice system. If you are being "targeted" by your police department, then I'd say contact your local news media, and you'd find some reporters willing to look into it. The number one thing though. Document everything on your end. What has the police got going for them? Radar guns, in-car dash video cameras, radio, other police, and police reports. What can you do? Make it your hobby to video tape your life and entire property as much as possible. If a "domestic violence" offense happens at home and you are recording your home, you'd have your own evidence to counter their verbal recall. Note: Lawyers do call police on everything. I work as the IT guy in a police department, and I've learned that my police hates one judge because he throws out almost all DWI offenses.

Now the sad truth. I live in a state where it's a state law if you don't show up for work for 2-3 days without notice any employer can fire you at will. For poor people or those living pay check to pay check, that could mean easily sliding down in income by lost work. The police can only put you in jail. Never make a fuss and be calm around them. They can't do anything to you unless you throw a fit. The police arresting you isn't even a negative on you, or shouldn't be anyway. It's mainly a notice to the public that the police "did something" and now it's up to the judical branch to determine what the proper course of action is. Note: It's the judical branch that determines if you are guilty of anything and let's citizens out of jail not the cops.

Re:The bottom line is this (3, Informative)

Incongruity (70416) | more than 7 years ago | (#15820040)

[Where were the repercussions for the offending officer though?]

Most likely nothing. And that's as it should be. Why? Because he most likely thought that he was in the right

That doesn't matter -- he was out of line, no matter how justified he believed his actions to be and he needs to be accountable for them. By your logic, very few crimes of passion would be punishable... unless you believe there's a different standard for members of law enforcement. In point of fact, I believe there is a different standard, but it is and must be a more strict standard than that applied to the general public. If we cannot expect those who enforce the law to avoid even the mere appearance of impropriety, how dare we expect the general public to abide by, much less the law those individuals enforce?

Re:The bottom line is this (1)

technococcus (990913) | more than 7 years ago | (#15820127)

Just a snippet of advice: Stand up for yourself if some officer of the "Law" is harassing you. Do it in a respectful manner and respectfully tell them that they cannot legally arrest you for whatever it is they are trying to arrest you for illegally. If you need to, resist arrest. They pretty much can't shoot you, they mostly won't taser you, and, if there are witnesses around, certainly won't beat your ass for refusing to allow them to clap you in irons and drag you off to some dungeon.

That said, resist, a lot, but unless they attack you with a weapon, don't respond with one. That's a good way to get killed really quickly.

The (corrupt members of the department of) police arrest people for anything/nothing because they know noone is giong to resist, because that can accrue a charge of resisting arrest. Show some spine and stand up for the real Law and for your own rights and this sort of "they won't fight back" mentality will go away. What's a night in jail for standing up for your Rights? Martin Luther King, Jr. and Henry David Thoreau seemed to think that was a fine trade.

Re:The bottom line is this (1)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 7 years ago | (#15819785)

It's an action of a local municipal police department, period.
How many of these incidents have to occur before it's not just a single action by a single officer?

How many people have to have their rights trampled before it's necessary to do something about it?

This single instance is indicative of the actions that lead many of us to have a growing concern about the role of law enforcement (from the very top of the federal level all the way down to local yokels) with respect to the rights of the individual. Only constant attention and rectification of these problems will prevent a gradual, habitual acquiescence that will lead us ever closer to the authoritarian police state that can be seen just over the horizon.

Good News: It's so bad it's a big deal (4, Insightful)

EaglesNest (524150) | more than 7 years ago | (#15819788)

I agree with the parent post, and yes, I agree with the criticism of this incendent. I don't think it's representative of police nationwide. After all, the media made it public knowledge based on the word of the victim; the ACLU may be getting involved (the family should sue -- they have a case); and there is already an investigation. So the good news here is that it's a big deal. When is it time to start worrying, and not just making a fuss about it, but taking real action against a police state? That time will come when incidents do not provoke the kind of outrage we have seen here. I understand how police -- especially unseasoned patrolmen -- can become jaded quickly without having the experience or training to know how to deal with a situtation they don't like. Police so often get a very warped view of the world since they most often are responding to terrible situations and people who would have very bad karma on Slashdot.

Re:The bottom line is this (4, Interesting)

Lord Kano (13027) | more than 7 years ago | (#15819819)

the officer(s) involved are subject to some sort of corrective action.

Some sort? They should be subjected to dismissal and incarceration.

This is, however, NOT representative of a "police state" or anything like what some in the original article went on about.

What this does represent is that for the first time, middle-class white America is subjected to the same kinds of abuses that poor and/or minority comminunities have been for decades.

That's what's new here. That's what's different.

LK

Hang out on photo.net some time. (5, Interesting)

SuperBanana (662181) | more than 7 years ago | (#15819964)

This is, however, NOT representative of a "police state" or anything like what some in the original article went on about. This is also not 1984, nor is it because of the "environment fostered by the PATRIOT Act" or the Bush administration, or anything similar.

Bullshit. You don't read sites like photo.net, where stories of police harassment and intimidation are the norm, not the exception, and many photographers have stopped trying to photograph anything they think they might get in the slightest trouble over.

  • Photography student is detained and his IDs 'reviewed' after taking night-time photos of a firehouse [photo.net] .
  • Man was physically intimidated and threatened by private security and police after photographing, from public property, a commercial chemical plant.
  • Young photojournalism student in Provincetown is roughed up by Provincetown police after shooting some pictures of cops beating a bunch of drunks.
  • MBTA has never permitted photography anywhere on its property, and is well known for its officers harassing photographers. NYC just instituted a no-photography rule in the last year or two.
  • Vacationers at the Golden Gate Bridge have had film confiscated for taking pictures of the bridge. When they said they were just tourists, they were told to buy a postcard from the vendor nearby. Security risk, or helping the postcard sellers?
  • Photograhpers are often harassed for taking pictures of public buildings, bridges, reservoirs, dams, etc. It has been a prevalent experience that anyone with a camera taking a picture of some sort of infrastructure is deemed a potential terrorist, or terrorism is trotted out as an excuse (see the Golden Gate postcard fiasco.)
  • Parents are reported to police by film development labs for taking pictures of their babies playing in the bath and have been threatened with having their children removed from them.

Those are just the few examples that immediately come to mind.

Try this search on for size [google.com] . Add on fun keywords like "harassment","arrested", "questioned", etc.

People are rotuinely roughened up, threatened with arrest or being "reported" to the FBI, arrested and detained then released before the charge-or-release 24 hours are up, lied to about their rights, what the law is, or what they are criminally liable for, had film/cards confiscated, their IDs demanded (would it scare you more if I called them "papers"?), and so on. These days just about anything gets you on various watch lists and that means even more fun.

We live in a country where you can be arrested for taking a picture of a bridge on vacation and get harassed trying to board a flight home because you were placed on a "watch" or "no fly" list. Wake up and smell the fucking coffee- we're fast headed the way of fascist and communist countries.

Re:The bottom line is this (3, Insightful)

teflaime (738532) | more than 7 years ago | (#15820016)

Tried to take a picture of the President lately? Hell, tried to go to a Bush even lately? Did you sign you loyalty oath? No? THen you didn't get in.

Public place... (2, Informative)

_PimpDaddy7_ (415866) | more than 7 years ago | (#15819554)

If you are in a public setting and can be photographed, why can't you photograph a police officer in a public setting?

Re:Public place... (1, Insightful)

daveschroeder (516195) | more than 7 years ago | (#15819578)

You can. The police were in the wrong here. That's why the guy was released and hasn't been charged with anything. He did nothing wrong. Just some local city cops pissed off that someone was taking pictures of them, and then overreacting. Nothing more, nothing less. No national conspiracy, no general "police vs citizen photographers" crisis.

Re:Public place... (3, Insightful)

finkployd (12902) | more than 7 years ago | (#15819774)

The conspiracy is that this cop will still have his job tomorrow, when he has clearly shown that he does not deserve it. Abusing his power and violating the public trust should be grounds for immediate dismissal. Sadly, he will probably be congratulated in the locker room for showing one of those uppity photo-jerks who is boss and making others think twice.

Finkployd

Re:Public place... (2, Informative)

jagger (23047) | more than 7 years ago | (#15820057)

This officer deserves a reprimand for this but not outright dismissal. If there is a pattern of this with an officer then dismissal would be appropriate but we do need to cut people some slack when it comes to things like this.

I would say that a public apology from the Police Department and an official statment saying that what the person did was not illegal would be nice as well. This would help dispel the image that photographing the police is a crime.

I do not like abuse of power by the police we do need to at least admit that they are human beings doing a nessecary and stressful job. They will make mistakes and should be required to admit and pay for those mistakes as appropriate.

Forgot to add...Photographer's Rights (0, Redundant)

_PimpDaddy7_ (415866) | more than 7 years ago | (#15819593)

People should be aware of a photographer's rights. http://www.krages.com/phoright.htm [krages.com]

Re:Forgot to add...Photographer's Rights (0, Offtopic)

Deanasc (201050) | more than 7 years ago | (#15820068)

Hey, way to link to something that was linked to in the write up. Why don't you head on over to Fark and pretend to be Ric Romero.

Police State - Some people are above the law (1)

transporter_ii (986545) | more than 7 years ago | (#15820015)

wikipedia: A police state is a state in which the government maintains strict control over the population, particularly through suspension of civil rights...

One of the things I really appreciate about the founders is that they gave us equality under the law (if we could keep it, and apparently we couldn't).

One of my personal definitions of a police state, is when the police can do things that are illegal for "normal people" to do...because they are above the law.

Well, they want to photograph us, video tape us, monitor our every move, but they however, not only expect their privacy...they freaking get it by force of law and a jack boot for those that still don't "get it."

Here is a perfect example:

http://www.villagevoice.com/news/0615,ferguson,728 [villagevoice.com] 04,5.html [villagevoice.com]

Since 2003, the NYPD has been filming protesters at political demonstrations, regardless of whether anything illegal's going on. City lawyers were in court last month defending the practice, arguing that what happens in public view is fair game.

But police evidently aren't so keen on surveillance when the cameras are turned on them--particularly when those cameras show them abusing free-street-parking privileges.

Transporter_ii

Does anybody else... (0, Redundant)

Cpoff (991199) | more than 7 years ago | (#15819572)

Feel more helpless every day?

When I read things like this, and other subjects posted to Slashdot on a daily basis (see Diebold story prior to this, etc), it really frightens me. Reminds me of the beginning of HL2, when you get off of the train...

"Citizen, stand down."

Re:Does anybody else... (1, Insightful)

daveschroeder (516195) | more than 7 years ago | (#15819609)

Does anybody else feel more helpless every day?

Yes, I do.

Helpless to stop the endless barrage of stories and claims that we're living in an Orwellian 1984 totalitarian police state, when in fact nothing substantial has really changed in 50 years (save the technology, which goes both ways: it gives authorities more systems to abuse, and it gives citizens more vehicles to document and comment, e.g., ubiquitous cell phone cameras and blogs where nearly everyone believes that we already like in a police state).

What *really* scares me is that people genuinely, legitimately believe this, and believe that police and government are out to get them, and that they're all corrupt and only looking for ways to extend their power or line their pockets.

Re:Does anybody else... (2, Insightful)

Cpoff (991199) | more than 7 years ago | (#15819744)

Why is it alarmism?

As technological advances ramp up faster and faster, and this endless amount of information begins to become available to most any people (especially government), why is it alarmism to be worried? I was not stating we live in Orwell's world, or anywhere close to it...

If anything has become apparent in the last twenty years, its that change happens VERY fast now. People become more complacent every day, the government and its actions become more shrouded and from what it appears, less responsible. With most peoples understanding of the government and the world around them dictated but what is seen in the media, opinions stop becoming personal and appear to becoming part of the mass (ie: media).

I completely understand your distaste at many peoples "alarmist" attitude, but it is a much better attitude to have then that of complaceny. As this article really shows, you must not stand down when things of this nature happen to you, be it from a police officer or a corrupt politician. And to get back to my original point, as information and access to it becomes nearly infinite and instantaneous, so will the ability to alter it and present viewpoints favorable to a specific outcome. Everything happens so fast now adays, people cannot afford the time to stop and just take a look around...

It is not Orwell yet, and may not be ever, but it is beginning to lean in that direction rather then away from it.

Re:Does anybody else... (2, Interesting)

finkployd (12902) | more than 7 years ago | (#15819820)

What *really* scares me is that people genuinely, legitimately believe this, and believe that police and government are out to get them, and that they're all corrupt and only looking for ways to extend their power or line their pockets.

The police? No most of them are good but it scares me a bit that the "us against them" mentality is so pervasive that even the good majority will back the bad apples in a "band of brothers" sort of way.

But government? It scares me that you can look at congress and honestly believe that they are NOT all only looking for ways to extend their power and line their pockets. The number of honorable congress-critters who are not in the pocket of a special interest or corporation can be counted on one hand.

Finkployd

Re:Does anybody else... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15819901)

What you are saying is that the sun shining in on longstanding corruption and abuse is a non-event. Increased awareness and visual proof that brings reform is legitimately news.

You think people are "paranoid. In fact, police corruption is far more widespread than most people think. One statistic that shows this is that the majority of California state police retire on disability. Only a small minority of any police department are actually disabled at retirement age. It is therefore inescapable that the majority of retired California state police are committing fraud in felony quantities. They are stealing more from you and me than the total of all their larceny busts in their careers.

And that is just one example.

I am posting this anonymously because criticizing police invites retaliation. That alone speaks volumes about whether we live in a police state.

Police are corrupt. The do spend vastly more time "enhancing revenue" than solving crime. It is perfectly reasonable for people to come to this conclusion.

Re:Does anybody else... (1)

Trillan (597339) | more than 7 years ago | (#15819921)

They are definitely not all corrupt. However, some are corrupt, and at least here in Canada their duty officers seem to support them to an unreasonable degree.

Re:Does anybody else... (1)

Em Ellel (523581) | more than 7 years ago | (#15819929)

What *really* scares me is that people genuinely, legitimately believe this, and believe that police and government are out to get them, and that they're all corrupt and only looking for ways to extend their power or line their pockets.

I actually believe this is some deranged form of hope. I think the realization that world is just really messed up is too much for many, and they cling to hope of simple explanation -i.e. "they are out to get me!" and other conspiracy theories - because this means there is a simple "bad guy" that is responsible and if only we can get rid of him all would be well. I mean its just an alternative religion. Same basic need to fill the void. In the past they rose up against devil and witches, now its the evil corporations and governments. Not to say that there are no conspiracies, but they are so much more complicated to pull off than people think - and as a rule, a simpler explanation is usually the correct one. Or to put it another way, don't attribute to maliciousness that which can be explained by stupidity.

-Em

Re:Does anybody else... (1)

demigod (20497) | more than 7 years ago | (#15820045)

...nothing substantial has really changed in 50 years

Maybe it happen while you were napping, but there have been some significant changes in the laws, in the US, in the last 6 years.

Two or more forces at work (5, Informative)

Tony (765) | more than 7 years ago | (#15820091)

Well, there *are* things the police can do today they couldn't do fifty years ago. For instance, there's the whole seizure of personal property (including bank accounts and homes) for minor drug busts. In some cases, you don't even have to be convicted, just arrested. The seized property is sold. Some police departments are funded by the selling of seized property.

Then there's the whole widespread phone tapping craze. This is something that could not have been done fifty years ago. Sure, US government resources were spent monitoring regular citizens, but it happened on a case-by-case basis, not wholesale.

We most likely do not live in an Orwellian society. But, y'know, I'd like to keep the government from obtaining the tools required for 1984 to come true. They are currently creating them in front of our very eyes. You may be a pollyanna, but there are some of us that are worried.

Honestly, we have the right to be worried. It's called "oversight of our government." As responsible citizens, it is our right and our duty to question everything the government does in our name.

Re:Does anybody else... (1)

EchoBinary (912851) | more than 7 years ago | (#15820096)

I have to wonder what your circumstances are that you can have such a smug attitude. Have you never dealt with "the system"? Or are you just so lucky that you are in it (job) or have never had to deal with it? The simple fact is that bloated systems such as the US Govt. aren't out to make criminals of everyone. But its very bloated nature causes people to get stuck very easily when they become a number on a piece of paper with no regard for concequences down the line. Sally Paperpusher has no concept or care of whos life she is changing when she stamps her stack of papers to hand to Bob Wantsabreak. _THAT_ is what is going on. It is simply too big to be manegable anymore. The letter of the law is paramount. And the more letters there are in the law - the more conflicting and restricting it becomes. Imagine a really huge game of Magic: The Gathering - except the game is several rooms large, and never stops. And now imagine that the players just dont care.

Re:Does anybody else... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15819611)

Only if you believe the alarmism, because that's 90% of this type of stuff on Slashdot.

Media conspiracy (1)

nuggz (69912) | more than 7 years ago | (#15819752)

Sheesh, it's just the "watch out for big brother" conspiracy groups.

Slashdot is just as susceptible to the same fearmongering that other media outlets are accused (and guilty) of.

This is a somewhat left wing, technology astute, but politically naive group. So a lot of the articles are about the bad political machine that they don't understand and how technology is the solution.

Similarly the politicians are scared of this bad technology machine they don't understand and they think politics/legislation is the solution.

Keep this in mind you'll keep your audience happy (they like to hear things they agree with) scare them a bit (to keep them interested).

So tell the NRA you want to take their guns, tell womens rights groups you want to ban abortions, tell gays they shouldn't have any rights, tell ethinic/religious group X they can't pray or be identified and obviously you'll get that group going.

Tell slashdotters the gov is listening and they're gonna take away your computer for reason X until it's obsolete and they'll get just as upset.

I honestly think some cops are bad, but most (like most people) just want to do a good job, make the world better or at least not any worse and go home to their happy and safe little home.
If you really were a sadistic bastard who just wanted to mess with the world, there are easier and more lucrative ways to do it than going into law enforcement.

Re:Media conspiracy (3, Informative)

99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) | more than 7 years ago | (#15820088)

I honestly think some cops are bad, but most (like most people) just want to do a good job, make the world better or at least not any worse and go home to their happy and safe little home. If you really were a sadistic bastard who just wanted to mess with the world, there are easier and more lucrative ways to do it than going into law enforcement.

Do you know any cops? I do. My brother used to be a cop and I got to know quite a few of them both through him and by just talking to them. Almost every cop and even security guard I've ever talked to has had issues with anger and control. When within ten minutes of meeting someone they express to you how they wish they had a good excuse to shoot someone or how they became a cop because they could not get into the military and really just wanted to learn to be a better killer you start to have a very different view of cops. Most of them are people who grew up too slowly and did not realize that all the action shows on TV were just revenge fantasies and not life goals. A whole lot of them have sadistic tendencies and/or a strong desire to assert dominance over everyone they can. Every cop I've ever asked has a "funny" story about how they broke the law and did things normal people can't because they can get away with it. Most cops abuse their power.

You say that most cops just want to do a good job, but in the opinions of many of the cops I've talked to "doing a good job" might mean driving those "niggers" out of town or making sure those weird guys are properly frightened so they know it is not alright to be different from the NASCAR watching majority.

I get along just fine with cops for the most part. I never get tickets and know enough about martial arts and guns and have enough good stories about the military and crimes so that they generally consider me one of the "good guys." I'm also something of a social chameleon and am almost universally accepted in any clique. I don't, however, have an illusions about the fact that for the most part cops are bigger criminals than the average person, they abuse their authority, and they are violent and prone to use violence unnecessarily. They also always want to be in control and are more likely to respond with violence or by arresting someone with no legal justification than they are willing to cede that control. For example, from stories I've heard from cops, most are likely to arrest anyone who points out that they are wrong and that the act they are claiming is illegal (like photographing them) is legal. It is a challenge to them and the fact that what they are doing is illegal is only a technicality to them. Most cops feel anyone doing anything that is not what they direct is in the wrong, because most don't ever admit that they could be wrong.

I find your view of the police to be very naive.

The State protects itself (1)

hsmith (818216) | more than 7 years ago | (#15819585)

simple as that. the state can watch you, but you cannot watch it. Pretty amusing considering we all pay their way. Sort of like you buying CD and getting punched in the face at random by the cashier and there is NOTHING you can do about it. I never understand people that call for bigger government.

This is why you can't rely on the police, the courts, judges, anyone. They all work for the government, they are all agents of the state. Much like how the White House can get cases dismissed, judges are just another long reaching arm of our massive, bloated goverment.

Re:The State protects itself (1)

daveschroeder (516195) | more than 7 years ago | (#15819632)

Except for that we can "watch" the state, since it got covered by multiple news outlets, the details were revealed, the guy was released and not charged, and we're talking about it now.

Oops.

Re:The State protects itself (1)

krell (896769) | more than 7 years ago | (#15819665)

"buying CD and getting punched in the face at random by the cashier and there is NOTHING you can do about it"

Sure there is. After a couple of black eyes and a chipped tooth, I learned to get my music entirely from Grokster.

Re:The State protects itself (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15819714)

Well, when you buy a CD, you are getting punched in the wallet due to overpricing anyway! :)

Wrong, Sir, wrong! (5, Insightful)

megaditto (982598) | more than 7 years ago | (#15819756)

In America, the Government is the People. All of us. You and me. We get to voice our opintion on things. If we do not like something, we change it by voting.

I fully empathize with people from Kraplickistan living under a dictatorship. If you live in America however, you have no excuses if you chose not to participate.

Say you don't like the good folks at the White House; who's stopping you from writing to your Senator, going door-to-door to get the vote out, starting up a collection for your favorite party. Starting up your own damn party, if you don't like any existing one.

Yes, I understand it is hard work, and it is much easier to sit at home instead of trying to change the system, but at least folks like you should have the courtesy not to stop being a whiney little bitch!

Apathetic jerks like yourself make me sick to my stomach!

Re:Wrong, Sir, wrong! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15819866)

Say you don't like the good folks at the White House; who's stopping you from writing to your Senator, going door-to-door to get the vote out, starting up a collection for your favorite party. Starting up your own damn party, if you don't like any existing one.


When was the last time any of these things actually impacted the way national politics work? No Congressman gives a shit what any single voter thinks because guess what - no single voter gets them elected. Demographics get people elected and as long as no major demographics get pissed off then they're peachy keen.

Sure, a new party could be made but it takes more money than 10 average people will make in their lives to get one person elected to Congress - and that's with the backing of one of the two major parties. So unless you happen to be one of the richest people in the world, starting a new political party that will actually accomplish anything is impossible.

All of what you said sounded really good back in the day, I'm sure. However, in the modern age politics is a business and the same people who can't fight big business can't fight politicians either.

Re:Wrong, Sir, wrong! (0, Troll)

megaditto (982598) | more than 7 years ago | (#15820038)

How about you ask Sen. Joe Lieberman? This multi-term democrat in a 70+% blue state is in much trouble now, all because of a small-time, grass-roots group of kooky liberals that hate him because he is not liberal enough, apparently.

Same thing was almost pulled-off by a few anti-abortion evangelicals on a republican senator Specter in PA in 2004.

It just shows you how much power a few dedicated people can still have.

This year is actually the best year to stir things up since republicans are unhappy about the gas prices, budget deficits, and Iraq war, while the democrats are unhappy about the flag-burning gay couples that hate America.

Re:Wrong, Sir, wrong! (1)

hsmith (818216) | more than 7 years ago | (#15819896)

What kind of fairyland do you live in?

Re:Wrong, Sir, wrong! (0)

Spazntwich (208070) | more than 7 years ago | (#15819917)

You are a remarkably idealistic fool who has apparently ignored the fact that voting only allows us a choice between two equally bad candidates.

The US government is currently a good old boys club run by the elite, and the downward spiral they have had us on will only continue once our population wakes up and realizes that we must actively hold the government accountable for its actions. Sadly, this will likely never happen, as once a population has entertainment (television, gladiator battles, whatever the British Empire used to pacify it's population) and food, they stop caring.

Re:Wrong, Sir, wrong! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15819972)

Err, will only continue UNTIL. Fuck.

Re:Wrong, Sir, wrong! (1)

megaditto (982598) | more than 7 years ago | (#15820075)

Well, what do you expect? You expect every Joe Sixpack to be able to run for President as an independent, and win?

That's not how it's done. Start at the local level. Hell, start running for schoolboard. Local elections are local enough that the big players just don't care. Once your 'third party' has local legislatures under control, move up! Plus having local control can also help you do lots of 'neat' things like redistricting.

Re:Wrong, Sir, wrong! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15820080)

In America, the Government is the People. All of us. You and me. We get to voice our opintion on things. If we do not like something, we change it by voting.

You just keep on believing that...sucker...

Re:Wrong, Sir, wrong! (1)

kemo_by_the_kilo (971543) | more than 7 years ago | (#15820113)

HE is right it is for the people, the people with money who can rig elections with their buddys diebold machines..... did you see that story before this post?
what about the whole halliburton (spelled wrong?) deal, what about going to Iraq for democracy after we couldnt find and wmd's, which we later found, in the sand rotting; not in a bunker ready to be deployed. i for one think when the approval rating of bush dropped below 50% of the country he should have been drop kicked out of the white house, that would be for the people, by the people.

Backslsh..... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15819586)

Otherwise known as

Beating a Dead Horse"

I don't think there can much more said about this until the courts have at it or the Legislatures have a chance - (They'll probably listen to the police unions anyway so the don't seem "Soft on Crime").

[P]lease read my post (5, Funny)

neonprimetime (528653) | more than 7 years ago | (#15819607)

even if the police really did violate people's rights, they should be treated leniently because "[P]olice are people and do bad things"

If the [P]olice do something wrong, they should be [P]unished just like the rest of us!

Re:[P]lease read my post (1)

mrsbrisby (60242) | more than 7 years ago | (#15819667)

If the [P]olice do something wrong, they should be [P]unished just like the rest of us!
No! They should be punished far worse than the rest of us. They want the courts to "trust" their discression more than they trust criminals, so they must be more trustworthy than the criminals.

If a cop gets a misdemeanor, break his legs. If a cop commits a felony, hang him.

Re:[P]lease read my post (1)

WilliamSChips (793741) | more than 7 years ago | (#15819870)

If a cop gets a misdemeanor, just take his job, not his legs. It's easier.

Re:[P]lease read my post (4, Insightful)

finkployd (12902) | more than 7 years ago | (#15819751)

If the [P]olice do something wrong, they should be [P]unished just like the rest of us!

Yes they should, and they should also IMMEDIATELY lose their job. They are given powers and abilities above that of normal citizens and with that comes responsibility. We place our trust in them and once one of them violates that trust there is absolutely no reason at all to keep them. A crooked or corrupt cop is a much greater risk to society than your average joe.

If a cop is caught abusing his power, violating the law, or anything of that nature, he needs to be fired ASAP. No cushy desk job, no paid leave, gone. We as a society have become far too accepting of crooked cops and the police community is far to protective of its own, even when they are giving all a bad name.

Finkployd

It's everywhere in the US now (3, Interesting)

BWJones (18351) | more than 7 years ago | (#15819618)

I've had a couple [utah.edu] of incidents [utah.edu] as well with police and now city run facilities where people want to restrict photography. It's getting really discouraging for folks that enjoy photography and all anyone has to do is invoke the spectre of "National Security".

Add New York to your list (2, Interesting)

transporter_ii (986545) | more than 7 years ago | (#15820073)

http://www.villagevoice.com/news/0615,ferguson,728 [villagevoice.com] Since 2003, the NYPD has been filming protesters at political demonstrations, regardless of whether anything illegal's going on. City lawyers were in court last month defending the practice, arguing that what happens in public view is fair game. But police evidently aren't so keen on surveillance when the cameras are turned on them--particularly when those cameras show them abusing free-street-parking privileges. Transporter_ii

Arrested != Convicted (4, Insightful)

winkydink (650484) | more than 7 years ago | (#15819620)

You can get arrested for pretty near anything. Even on "trumped up" charges. Getting convicted is another matter. If the guy in Philly has a civil case, I expect he'll press it. If he wins, it's payday.

Re:Arrested != Convicted (1)

daveschroeder (516195) | more than 7 years ago | (#15819651)

Indeed, and I'm glad at least one person here realizes it.

In fact, this guy's probably going to come out of this better than he came in, not to mention the officer(s) involved are probably ultimately going to be reprimanded.

Re:Arrested != Convicted (1)

hwstar (35834) | more than 7 years ago | (#15819761)

One thing most people don't realize is that if you are arrested, an "Arrested Bit" is set in the State and Federal crime databases.
Once set, this bit is immutable and can't ever be cleared. You are permananently marked as a "troublemaker" in the eyes of law enforcement. You are a very lucky person (and somewhat rare) if you die with your "Arrested Bit" cleared.

Re:Arrested != Convicted (1)

winkydink (650484) | more than 7 years ago | (#15820116)

Really? I've been arrested, but not convicted (no, not some trivial DUI bullshit thing either). It hasn't caused me one whit of trouble in any dealings with the police that have occurred since then.

I'd suspect that if your prior arrest was assault on a peace office or resisting arrest, then yeah, you're going to get fucked with if you have future dealings with the police. No system's perfect. Sorry.

Re: Arrested != Convicted (1)

PinkPanther (42194) | more than 7 years ago | (#15819787)

In fact, this guy's probably going to come out of this better than he came in
Sorry, but I don't think a load of money and/or "eye for an eye" retribution will reinstate this individual's confidence that he is living in a stable, free and equal society...nor will it get back the time lost and/or lower mental anxiety stemming from incarceration.

Re:Arrested != Convicted (1)

Lord Kano (13027) | more than 7 years ago | (#15819873)

Reprimand? There should be dismissals and incarcerations for these type of infractions.

LK

Arrested is a penalty (5, Insightful)

nuggz (69912) | more than 7 years ago | (#15819878)

Being arrested IS a penalty in itself.

When a foreigner enters the US they don't ask if you've been convicted of a crime, they ask if you've "ever been arrested".

Also an arrest in many areas means you get fingerprinted and put in the databases. Plus in more and more places you have to give a DNA sample.

Re:Arrested is a penalty (5, Insightful)

Rob T Firefly (844560) | more than 7 years ago | (#15820037)

That's very true, not only for the bad marks on your paperwork and such, but because of the immediate threats that an arrested person faces.

Everything in your personal life shuts down for however long it takes to process you. Apart from the "one phone call," there's no way to let everyone who needs to know that you're alive and well instead of just missing. Dependents are a whole other issue in themselves. There could be everything from a pet that doesn't get fed to a grandmother who doesn't get reminded to take her pills to children who don't get picked up from school. The emotional stress your family goes through seeing you dragged off in handcuffs or simply not coming home when you should is really not measurable. And woe be to the single parent in this situation..

Aside from family obligations, there are the business ones. How important are you at your job? Are you the type of employee who can be covered for for a day or two? Will your employers react well to your excuse the next day? Never mind that if you're a sole proprietor of a struggling business, the whole thing could be pretty much destroyed by nobody opening the door for a day.

Basically, no matter how innocent you are, being arrested can screw with your life and any others involved in it on a major scale.

Arrested == bad enough (1)

mobby_6kl (668092) | more than 7 years ago | (#15819996)

Being convicted for this would be completely asinine, but "just arrested" doesn't make much better.
Having cops intimidate and arrest people would be enough to scare most from doing whatever they were doing. Do you think people would be willing to get arrested every time they see the police doing something? I don't think so, most would just turn away and "forget" about ever seeing anything.

The biggest problem is... (2, Informative)

guruevi (827432) | more than 7 years ago | (#15819686)

that usually they don't or hardly get punished or even rewarded (they get 1-3 days paid leave) for doing such things. Another problem is that if you go after them (using an expensive lawyer) you can hardly sue for damages (spending a night in jail) because they have the right to put you in jail for a long time (48h or look @ Gitmo) without even charging you with anything. If the police wants to be anal they can hold you even longer (ongoing investigation without charging you) and I heard of people spending a week in jail without getting anything back (no damages rewarded, nearly lost their job, the neighbourhood viewing them as criminals) while they were not doing anything wrong (unless you say that a peaceful demonstration is illegal). The officers just got their kicks out of it. Then they wonder why they get shot (recently 2 officers in this area got shot) or dragged behind an ATV. I recently heard of someone in this area that got EXECUTED (as in shot after being in custody) according to witnesses after resisting an arrest warrant. 3 witnesses against a small police force don't stand up in court so what are we going to do about it. Yes this was the USA.

Re:The biggest problem is... (1)

spyrochaete (707033) | more than 7 years ago | (#15819842)

Kevin Mitnick was put in jail for 3 years including 8 consecutive months of solitary confinement - WITHOUT A TRIAL!!!

Re:The biggest problem is... (1)

dolphino (166844) | more than 7 years ago | (#15819847)

(48h or look @ Gitmo)

I was unaware there were american citizens locked up at gitmo.

Re:The biggest problem is... (1)

Daniel_Staal (609844) | more than 7 years ago | (#15820094)

It's extremely hard to even say exactly who is actually locked up there: For all intents and purposes you just have to trust the Army to tell you who is there.

That said, I don't think there are any American citizens locked up there. But it is hard to come up with a good reason why a government that felt it could lock up non-citizens in that manner and hide it would not lock up citizens that way if it felt it could get away with it.

What's with the backslash lately? (-1, Offtopic)

Keebler71 (520908) | more than 7 years ago | (#15819707)

Several hundred readers commented on yesterday's Slashdot post about citizens arrested for photographing police either in public or in the photographer's own property. Read on for some of the comments which defined the conversation in today's Backslash summary.

Translation: "I feel really strongly about this issue and regret that it was posted on a weekend. I want to make sure all the weekday slashdot readers read about how evil the police are."

Seriously folks, what's with the all the backslash lately. This story was posted yesterday. It is still listed in the right "Older Stuff" frame. If I want to know what topics "defined the conversation", I'd just click the link and surf it at +5. Slow news day?

Re:What's with the backslash lately? (1)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 7 years ago | (#15819889)

Seriously folks, what's with the all the backslash lately.
And if you really wanted an answer to that question instead of wanting to gripe about it, you'd have browsed through the first and second of the next-day backslashes. Your concern was discussed by many.

That Montana law *is* scary! (4, Interesting)

MagicMike (7992) | more than 7 years ago | (#15819748)


Did you guys read that? You should:

http://data.opi.mt.gov/bills/mca/45/7/45-7-302.htm [mt.gov]

"It is no defense to a prosecution under this section that the peace officer was acting in an illegal manner, provided that the peace officer was acting under the peace officer's official authority."

What???

So, if the police are acting illegally by not having a warrant to search my house and asking to search it anyway, I'm obstructing and this law makes it legal?

Ohhh - but they were acting under official authority. That's so comforting.

Re:That Montana law *is* scary! (2, Insightful)

nuggz (69912) | more than 7 years ago | (#15819931)

If you prevent them or resist them performing the illegal search, yes you are obstructing.

If you simply do not consent this isn't obstruction. If they acted improperly the evidence should be disallowed if it is actually found to be an illegal search. And they may be reprimanded for their behaviour.

Re:That Montana law *is* scary! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15820009)

So, if the police are acting illegally by not having a warrant to search my house and asking to search it anyway, I'm obstructing and this law makes it legal?
It does nothing of the sort. Nowhere does the cited section make the search legal. The search is still illegal. The law is intended to prevent "self-help." Citizens are expected to obey the orders of police officers and work out their differences in court. Obstructing police officers is likely to do nothing but get someone -- you and/or the police officer -- needlessly hurt.

Re:That Montana law *is* scary! (1)

MagicMike (7992) | more than 7 years ago | (#15820097)

I see what you're saying (and nuggz made the point as well), and I recognize that evidence collected illegally won't be admissable, but still.

No warrant, no search. This is one of those "The State knows best" deals, and I disagree on principle.

I always thought we're supposed to give the individual the benefit of the doubt in the US, implicitly assuming that the state does not know best unless there is proof otherwise (peer-reviewed, obtained transparently and with appellate recourse) otherwise.

Preventing "self-help", why would you do that?

I'm sorry, but I'd be obstructing.

Re:That Montana law *is* scary! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15820035)

Here's the key part that makes it "not as scary"

"provided that the peace officer was acting under the peace officer's official authority. "

If they are performing a warrantless search for instance, they have exceeded their authority and you can no longer be prosecuted for "obstruction". (IANAL)

You guys dont get it (1)

dolphino (166844) | more than 7 years ago | (#15819791)

It was a drug bust. It's likely undercover cops were present to confirm/asssist arrest. Taking pictures of said drug busts could cost lives. Your 'precious rights to an afternoon sitting on the couch' stop the moment you put somebody's life in danger. Period.

Re:You guys dont get it (1)

WilliamSChips (793741) | more than 7 years ago | (#15819898)

Taking a picture of a drug bust could cost a life how, exactly?

Re:You guys dont get it (1)

digitrev (989335) | more than 7 years ago | (#15820069)

If the photo gets published, and the officers are identifiable, a criminal could find the officers and possibly kill them.

Re:You guys dont get it (1)

j-beda (85386) | more than 7 years ago | (#15819935)

It's likely undercover cops were present to confirm/asssist arrest. Taking pictures of said drug busts could cost lives.

That may well be, but there is a high standard that needs to be set when limiting the public's freedom of action, and it is fairly clear that this incident as presented did not live up to it. If the officer had explained his concern calmly there likely would not have beena problem - if the concern had been legitimate, he could have handled it better.

Re:You guys dont get it (1)

weasello (881450) | more than 7 years ago | (#15820024)

As technological advances increase and we start getting more and more covert cameras - such as the aforementioned belt-buckle instant-uploading dream-camera, we will soon be living in a society where you can't possibly stop anyone from taking a picture of anyone else at any given moment in time. When that time arrives (and with some ingenuity, it could happen right now), how will we deal with the security and privacy of undercover police? When every single arrest is instantly uploaded to webservers and posted by automatic blogging software, who will protect our police then? ^ Whatever your answer is to that question is what I'd like to see implemented today. Failing an answer to that question, the police are going to have to learn to live with the problem, and they might as well start now.

Re:You guys dont get it (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15820032)

No see, YOU dont get it dude.
I am better than the cop.
I pay the cop's salary.
I am MORE important than him.
He is my SERVANT (they write it one the car man fuck!!!)
He should HELP ME when I need him and stay out of my business the rest of the time.
I am a TAXPAYER DAMMIT. I can take all the pictures I want even if he's busting the kingpin of kings ESPECIALLY if he's doing on my street. And if he dies because i posted them on the web and some goons get his ass: GOOD, cause if there's one thing i hate it's a cop who thinks that I AM NOT HIS BOSS AND LORD AND MASTER.

Can't we all just get along ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15819799)



Can't we all just get along ?

BOYCOTT ISRAEL!!! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15819804)

NOW!

Get a Recording - Call 911 (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15819885)

I feel that your best defense in these situations is to call 911, if possible. No, it won't help you at that immediate point in time, but now there is a recording of the conversation you had with the law enforcement agent: Police, Sheriff, FBI, etc.

In this case, if the person called 911, there would be a recording where you could hear them being dragged off the porch and hear the gate being opened and closed. Proof that the person was not on public property as claimed. If someone is attempting a warrantless search, you can have it on record that you aren't giving them permission to enter the premesis, and have a recording of any threats that they make to you to force their way in.

Another benefit is the recording is now stored off-site. With a video camera, regular camera or phone if they take it, you lost your evidence. If you can get that data off-site, they can't take it from you without a lot more work. (Maybe the 911 tape disappears, but without the FBI or NSA, AT&T isn't going to delete the record of the phone call to 911.)

Now, I don't think that all cops are bad. In fact, I have nothing bad to say about any of my experiences with law enforcement. However, I am white and live in a low crime area - the last "major" arrest in my town was over 10 years ago. So my experience may be different than yours.

Perhaps the best advice I can give is to think about the best thing to do if you were ever in these situations. Everyone does it for RPG games, just think about real life in those same terms.

FBI wants to search my house?

My wife calls 911 and tells them armed men are trying to get past me to enter the house without my permission. Didn't lie. Just didn't mention that they are federal agents. I'm sure the Sheriff will show up pretty fast with a call like that. Now, I have an officer that will hopefully be on my side in the matter. If not, I have pissed them off, but am no worse off. I also have a record that I didn't give them permission to enter. Then my wife can start calling the neighbors to come over and call the TV station, and I have made a big enough scene to (hopefully) be protected. I don't know if that is the best thing I can do, but at least I have thought about it enough to have a plan. In this case? Immediately send the photo to everyone in your address book. They can get the phone, but not the data. (It may cost you $0.50 or something, but probably worth it.)

Re:Get a Recording - Call 911 (1)

nuggz (69912) | more than 7 years ago | (#15819910)

Armed people claiming to be FBI, you haven't confirmed and verified that they actually are.

Heck if the police came to your door you could do the same thing. With the way some security guards dress they might not actually be police, even though they in many cases try to create that impression.

Re:Get a Recording - Call 911 (1)

weasello (881450) | more than 7 years ago | (#15820079)

It troubles me that people would be using and abusing 911 resources for their own personal gain like this. Two wrongs don't make a right! I'd hate to call 911 and get a busy signal when I'm having a heart attack because 17 people in town that are being dragged off by police are using it as a personal answering machine.

Actually, that's a good idea - just call an answering machine and let it record it.

This is nothing new. They are trained to do this. (4, Informative)

emkman (467368) | more than 7 years ago | (#15820012)

Despite what some might believe, this is not uncommon. It has to do with the way police are trained, and will remain an inherent flaw until something changes. I personally see it all the time. I live in Isla Vista, California, which is what I affectionately call the nicest ghetto in the world. It is only one to two square miles, with a population of about 20,000 people (not a typo). It is comprised almost entirely of students attending UCSB and Santa Barbara City College, as well as a large latino population. Here, we have the Isla Vista Foot Patrol, which many people don't exactly like. They constantly lie to students, illegally enter property, and illegal search people, usually in the name of writing an alcohol or marijuana possesion ticket. I was at a friends house when the IVFP entered the party for a "noise violation" and proceeded to bang on the door of the room we were in. The door was opened and the office claimed that he could smell marijuana. No one would admit they had any, and no one had been smoking atleast since I had entered the room. The cop proceeded to take people out of the room one by one. When he called me up, he stuck his hands in my pockets, and I immediately objected, claiming he had no probably cause or consent from me to enter my pockets. In my pockets, I had nothing illegal, though I did happen to have rolling papers, which I made quite clear were legal. This caused me to be taken into another room, and tested to see if I was drunk. As RajivSLK mentioned, this is what happens when you anger a police officer. Aslo, as he pointed out, there is no evidence(i.e. breathalyzer) required to cite you with drunk in public, or drunk and disorderly conduct. After determing I was not drunk, the other officer said he was "going to be nice and let me go this time" as if I had commited a crime. No marijuana citations were issued that night.
A month later, at another house, police arrived, again for a noise violation. One of the officers promptly recognized me and called me "the marijuana man", and proceeded to pat me down. He stayed over my clothes, keeping the search legal this time, however he kept yelling at me to spread my legs farther apart until you would have sworn I was an olympic gymnast. Furthermore, I was lucky. I can't even fit on one hand the number of friends I have had arrested for saying something to the police when someone else was being arrested. Things were so bad here at one point that the student government had to launch a campaign against the police, informing students of their rights and accepting police complaint reports that they would then file for you. Thankfully we also have free legal advice available to all students and are currently forming an official position called Office of the Student Advocate.
Anyways, here is the point:
Police officers operate this way on purpose. This is how they are trained! It is not really good cop bad cop thing as much as you would believe. The police's job is not really to uphold the law. That is the court's job. The police are there to investigate crime and catch "bad guys". If the 4th ammendment gets in their way, oh well, let the courts decide that. They are trained to lie, decieve, and push the boundaries, usually in search of a verbal confession. Most cops don't even know the law, they are just there to do what they were trained to due. Read Breaking Rank, by Norm Stamper, former Seattle police chief, to learn about how the police system fosters violence, racism, and homophobia as a matter of practice. Finally, if you don't know how to deal with police and refuse a warrantless search, please please please watch Busted. There is a YouTube link already in the slashback. Finally, if you are afraid to talk to police officers in such a situation, keep something like the NORML Freedom Card [norml.org] in your wallet. Simply invoke your right to remain silent, and hand the card to the officer. Its simple yet very effective.

Fantasy land (1)

Jerry Rivers (881171) | more than 7 years ago | (#15820077)

If anybody thinks the cops are any different in Canada they are living in fantasy land.

Canada is a very large and diverse country, with many police forces. There is simply no way anybody can generalize about the police and be at all accurate. Some local cops in Ottawa or Edmonton or any other city or province or even the RCMP can be just as corrupt as cops anywhere. They can be and sometimes they are. Probably most aren't, just as most citizens are law abiding, but there are usually a few bad apples in nearly barrel.

I would wager that many Canadians have story or two to tell about their experiences with police corruption. I know I do.

the 2nd american revolution (2, Interesting)

jt418-93 (450715) | more than 7 years ago | (#15820102)

when the 2nd revolution comes, there will be a few changes.
1) police will face 2x the punishment a citizen does for every crime. police get 0 tolerence for bending the rules. they enforce the law by example as much as anything else.
2) the basic unit of society is the citizen. goverment exists to serve that citizen. goverment has no rights to tell a citizen what to do with his / her body. you can take what you want, you can kill yourself, sell yourself, whatever. so long as you do not infringe on another citizen.
3) the highest crime shall be corruption / incompetence in a public servant. this will be punishable by death in a painfull and public mannor so as to be a deterrant. if you want to serve the citizens, then serve.

within 10 years, the idea of gov corruption, and lawbreaking would be a faint idea.

it can't happen soon enough. the current gov is corrupt and needs to be formatted.

I hope he has a good lawyer... (1)

rthille (8526) | more than 7 years ago | (#15820106)


A rich black girl friend of mine got arrested for DWB in a nice neighborhood. The police department appologized in a letter, which the family handed to their lawyer. The department settled for a cool $250K. Not bad for a few hours in lockup.
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