Sunday, August 01, 2010


There was a nurse who worked in a jail with me and from time to time I'd see her, hold my arm at an awkward angle and say "It hurts when I do this." She'd laugh and say "Well! Don't do that!" That's good advice.

There seems to be an interest and a question about whether it's legal to videoptape police interactions. We all remember the Rodney King tape and the role it played in police work. Today, almost everything we do is recorded. Jailers are familiar with being recorded and know that almost everything they do is recorded on the security videos that abound in jails and prisons. School Resource Officers know that almost everything they do is liable to be captured on video at some point. Indeed, most street cops use video increasingly in this digital age. If a picture tells a thousand words, a videotape tells a chapter.

The question seems moot, with more and more consumer devices being able to capture video. Technology is overtaking us all and smart phones, tiny cameras, security cameras abound. Yet, there are questions being asked in places like Instapundit and on Yahoo Questions and state laws vary. Indeed, some citizens have been arrested for videotaping the police.

Here in Louisiana, it's perfectly legal to videotape police interactions, so we've gotten used to it. For me personally, it's not a problem. In my opinion, if I'm doing the job the way I'm supposed to do the job, I fear nothing from videotape. It's a useful tool that documents my job performance, whether I control the camera or not. Because I work for the people, I have little or no expectation of privacy while I'm on duty, so I have no privacy to protect.

While I'm not adverse to being videotaped, I don't feel bad about seizing a tape that has evidentiary value. For example, I was called last year to break up a fight and after the carnage, I was able to watch a videotape of the festivities. I seized that tape and put it in evidence. I gave the camera-person a receipt for the tape and I suspect that he was able to claim it after the case had been prosecuted.

I don't mind being taped as long as the camera doesn't interfere with the way I do my job. I would recommend that the camera stay far enough away that it doesn't intrude into my active area. Moving in close for a dramatic shot may not be the best idea. There are statutes about interfering with an officer. As long as you're not interfering, I don't have a problem. I would suspect that most of my brethren don't either.

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