Right Thinking From The Left Coast
Don't stay in bed, unless you can make money in bed. - George Burns

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Cops and Cameras

In the last few years, the hand held video camera has gone from a large bulky box, that use large VHS tapes, to a palm sized device using solid state memory. This revolution is size, weight and capacity, oh and price, has made this miniature video camera easy to obtain and use.
Youtube, is constantly filled with video captured on these small devices, from humorous feline hijinks to events that rock our world. It should be no surprise that they are used with ever increasing regularity by law enforcement and governments large and small, to document crimes, observe behavior and keep a eye on your business.
With increasing frequency, the citizens are turning their cameras on law enforcement, to document their crimes, their behavior and their business.

The story starts in Maryland where a man with a motorcycle is speeding on I-95. Anthony Graber admits to speeding and even showboating (he popped a wheelie at one point). He’s pulled over for speeding but that’s not the problem. He got the ticket but he also had a video camera in his helmet and he’s recording the arrest. At that point, the state trooper --a plainclothes officer-- cuts him off and draws a gun.

If you look carefully at the video, you see the plainclothes trooper get out of his vehicle, gun drawn, but no badge, or at least not one plainly visible, not one as readily displayed as the gun.

Graber says he thought he was being robbed. Police say Graber backed his bike up slightly, “creating a brief moment of fear” for the plainclothes officer. In the video, he quickly holsters his gun after getting out of the vehicle. And the point to a marked car behind Graber’s bike and argue that Graber knew what was happening.

Graber received the ticket and forgot about the incident, but after he posted the video on YouTube, police arrived at his home, search warrants in hand, and take his camera, two computers, two laptops, all the hard drives and he’s indicted for violating state wiretapping laws by recording the trooper without his consent.

Naturally the Police are not happy about this turn of events. They have resorted to arresting the person with the video camera, usually citing Wiretapping laws, even though no wires are tapped..  Actually the police have maintained that it is illegal to record a officer preforming his duty, without his consent. Which in its self is odd, since when in the public view you are fair game for the police or governments to observe you and record your actions. What make police officers different? A badge?

If we are a free society, and we allow those that are charged with the enforcement of our laws to record our actions, you know for our own safety,why is it a crime to record them?
What do they have to fear?
According to Dennis J. Slocumb and Rich Roberts, what the police fear is the public misunderstanding their actions.

In today’s environment, police officers have to assume that every action they take is captured on tape, somewhere. They must be comfortable that everything they say or do in the course of their duties may be shown on the 5 o’clock news.
Our problem is not so much with the videotaping as it is with the inability of those with no understanding of police work to clearly and objectively interpret what they see. Videotapes frequently do not show what occurred before or after the camera was on, and the viewer has no idea what may have triggered the incident or what transpired afterwards.

Can I have a, what the FUCK?
Yes the public may misunderstand the why certain actions were taken, especially if a video is taken out of context. Look at the recent videos of the attack on the journalists in Iraq. Wikileaks didn’t seem to have a problem with a out of context video. But in the end the facts came out.
That is not a reason to allow the arrests of people recording the actions of police, this is a free society, and responsibility is a 2 way street. We entrust them with the power to make arrests, but we as citizens are not allowed to monitor their actions while doing so, anyone have a problem, with this?
When our Founding Fathers established this nation there was,or is it still IS?, seen a necessity to balance the powers given to government with the rights of its citizens.
The 1ST amendment to the U.S. Constitution, gave us the freedom to speak freely and petition the grievances we have. This issue would seem to be at the very core of what was intended, by those that founded our nation. Other wise we are just living in another police state.

Posted by HARLEY on 08/08/10 at 06:51 PM in • (0) TrackbacksPermalink
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