Friday, May 18, 2012

On Recording the Police

It's a fact of modern life that everyone who has a cell phone has a video camera.  It's also a fact of life that when you're out in public, you're apt to be recorded.  I know when I'm at work on my beat, there are about 14 different cameras that are running all the time.  And all the students have cameras, most especially those kids in the videography class.

So, when I see the police complain about being recorded, I wonder what they're thinking.  Of course you're going to be recorded.  Some states have passed ordinances against recording the police and I think that's a very bad idea, from a number of perspectives.  First, we're public servants.  Everything we do should stand legal scrutiny.  We work for the people and they have a right to make sure that their servants are doing a good job, doing it properly, and preserving their rights.

Some agencies seize recordings when the public is recording the police and I can appreciate the need to preserve evidence.  I routinely seize video of crimes being committed, capture it for its evidentiary value.  I certainly don't seize cameras and I give everyone a receipt for their evidence.

The Justice Department has come out with a letter that says that citizen filming of the police is okay and within their First and Fourteenth Amendment rights. 
The right to record police officers in the public discharge of their duties was essential to help “engender public confidence in our police departments, promote public access to information necessary to hold our governmental officers accountable, and ensure public and officer safety,” wrote Jonathan Smith, head of the Justice Department’s Special Litigation Section.
I concur with Mr. Smith in his assessment. If any of my badge-bearing brethren has a problem with being recorded in the performance of their duty, they should probably re-read the Constitution.


Old NFO said...

Concur, either reconsider or get the hell out of Law Enforcement, cause they are doing 'something' wrong...

KurtP said...

Aren't those the same people that are telling everyone concerned with CCTV/crimecams that "if you're not doing anything wrong, you don't have to worry"?

Editor B said...

I agree. Just for the record.