Latest Episode

Go Back   Keith and The Girl Forums Keith and The Girl Forums Talk Shite

Talk Shite General discussion

Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 06-02-2010, 07:28 PM   #1 (permalink)
Senior Member
EastTexas's Avatar
Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: Omaha, NE
Posts: 1,259
Have a camera, go to jail.

I thought this might be an interesting topic for debate.
Are Cameras the New Guns?

In response to a flood of Facebook and YouTube videos that depict police abuse, a new trend in law enforcement is gaining popularity. In at least three states, it is now illegal to record any on-duty police officer.

Even if the encounter involves you and may be necessary to your defense, and even if the recording is on a public street where no expectation of privacy exists.

The legal justification for arresting the "shooter" rests on existing wiretapping or eavesdropping laws, with statutes against obstructing law enforcement sometimes cited. Illinois, Massachusetts, and Maryland are among the 12 states in which all parties must consent for a recording to be legal unless, as with TV news crews, it is obvious to all that recording is underway. Since the police do not consent, the camera-wielder can be arrested. Most all-party-consent states also include an exception for recording in public places where "no expectation of privacy exists" (Illinois does not) but in practice this exception is not being recognized.

Massachusetts attorney June Jensen represented Simon Glik who was arrested for such a recording. She explained, "[T]he statute has been misconstrued by Boston police. You could go to the Boston Common and snap pictures and record if you want." Legal scholar and professor Jonathan Turley agrees, "The police are basing this claim on a ridiculous reading of the two-party consent surveillance law - requiring all parties to consent to being taped. I have written in the area of surveillance law and can say that this is utter nonsense."

The courts, however, disagree. A few weeks ago, an Illinois judge rejected a motion to dismiss an eavesdropping charge against Christopher Drew, who recorded his own arrest for selling one-dollar artwork on the streets of Chicago. Although the misdemeanor charges of not having a peddler's license and peddling in a prohibited area were dropped, Drew is being prosecuted for illegal recording, a Class I felony punishable by 4 to 15 years in prison.

In 2001, when Michael Hyde was arrested for criminally violating the state's electronic surveillance law - aka recording a police encounter - the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court upheld his conviction 4-2. In dissent, Chief Justice Margaret Marshall stated, "Citizens have a particularly important role to play when the official conduct at issue is that of the police. Their role cannot be performed if citizens must fear criminal reprisals…." (Note: In some states it is the audio alone that makes the recording illegal.)

The selection of "shooters" targeted for prosecution do, indeed, suggest a pattern of either reprisal or an attempt to intimidate.

Glik captured a police action on his cellphone to document what he considered to be excessive force. He was not only arrested, his phone was also seized.

On his website Drew wrote, "Myself and three other artists who documented my actions tried for two months to get the police to arrest me for selling art downtown so we could test the Chicago peddlers license law. The police hesitated for two months because they knew it would mean a federal court case. With this felony charge they are trying to avoid this test and ruin me financially and stain my credibility."

Hyde used his recording to file a harassment complaint against the police. After doing so, he was criminally charged.

In short, recordings that are flattering to the police - an officer kissing a baby or rescuing a dog - will almost certainly not result in prosecution even if they are done without all-party consent. The only people who seem prone to prosecution are those who embarrass or confront the police, or who somehow challenge the law. If true, then the prosecutions are a form of social control to discourage criticism of the police or simple dissent.

A recent arrest in Maryland is both typical and disturbing.

On March 5, 24-year-old Anthony John Graber III's motorcycle was pulled over for speeding. He is currently facing criminal charges for a video he recorded on his helmet-mounted camera during the traffic stop.

The case is disturbing because:

1) Graber was not arrested immediately. Ten days after the encounter, he posted some of he material to YouTube, and it embarrassed Trooper J. D. Uhler. The trooper, who was in plainclothes and an unmarked car, jumped out waving a gun and screaming. Only later did Uhler identify himself as a police officer. When the YouTube video was discovered the police got a warrant against Graber, searched his parents' house (where he presumably lives), seized equipment, and charged him with a violation of wiretapping law.

2) Baltimore criminal defense attorney Steven D. Silverman said he had never heard of the Maryland wiretap law being used in this manner. In other words, Maryland has joined the expanding trend of criminalizing the act of recording police abuse. Silverman surmises, "It's more [about] ‘contempt of cop' than the violation of the wiretapping law."

3) Police spokesman Gregory M. Shipley is defending the pursuit of charges against Graber, denying that it is "some capricious retribution" and citing as justification the particularly egregious nature of Graber's traffic offenses. Oddly, however, the offenses were not so egregious as to cause his arrest before the video appeared.

Almost without exception, police officials have staunchly supported the arresting officers. This argues strongly against the idea that some rogue officers are overreacting or that a few cops have something to hide. "Arrest those who record the police" appears to be official policy, and it's backed by the courts.

Carlos Miller at the Photography Is Not A Crime website offers an explanation: "For the second time in less than a month, a police officer was convicted from evidence obtained from a videotape. The first officer to be convicted was New York City Police Officer Patrick Pogan, who would never have stood trial had it not been for a video posted on Youtube showing him body slamming a bicyclist before charging him with assault on an officer. The second officer to be convicted was Ottawa Hills (Ohio) Police Officer Thomas White, who shot a motorcyclist in the back after a traffic stop, permanently paralyzing the 24-year-old man."

When the police act as though cameras were the equivalent of guns pointed at them, there is a sense in which they are correct. Cameras have become the most effective weapon that ordinary people have to protect against and to expose police abuse. And the police want it to stop.

Happily, even as the practice of arresting "shooters" expands, there are signs of effective backlash. At least one Pennsylvania jurisdiction has reaffirmed the right to video in public places. As part of a settlement with ACLU attorneys who represented an arrested "shooter," the police in Spring City and East Vincent Township adopted a written policy allowing the recording of on-duty policemen.

As journalist Radley Balko declares, "State legislatures should consider passing laws explicitly making it legal to record on-duty law enforcement officials."
(Offline)   Reply With Quote
Old 06-02-2010, 07:51 PM   #2 (permalink)
Senior Member
standardman's Avatar
Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: Manchester, England
Posts: 3,690
It's like this in the UK. I've been stopped and asked questions by the police for taking photographs (not of or even near officers, just some cool looking buildings) and the law came in making it illegal to photograph or record them.

Shortly after the law came in, this photo was taken, showing exactly why the law is bad news for everyone.

Ironically enough, this is the most surveilled country on the planet.
(Offline)   Reply With Quote
Old 06-02-2010, 08:13 PM   #3 (permalink)
Senior Member
Incognito's Avatar
Join Date: Apr 2006
Location: Atlanta
Posts: 942
I believe if the arrest or whatever may merit being recorded is taking place in public in broad view of other people, then the shooter should have complete freedom to record as they feel. Only under the circumstances where something is being done in a very secretive location (i.e. for investigative purposes, away from the public eye), then maybe I could see the justification in not allowing recording, but even this is a stretch. If the officer is under cover or the recording may jeopardize his life (or other lives) or an investigation where secrecy is vital, then yes, do not permit the distribution of the recording.

I believe it's just because cops are so afraid of being caught doing something stupid or illegal. It's a covering-your-ass defense. Police lose their tempers or simply do not enjoy being on their best behavior every single minute, so they're angry or scared they'll be seen.

It's a media-induced world though. With everyone having video-recording-enabled phones, constant twitter updates, and personal cameras, it's virtually impossible to avoid them when on duty.

When a professional company is recording people, they are required for the people in the video to sign consent forms, otherwise they're removed or their identities blurred. Requiring the average citizen to have such consent in writing (since verbal agreements will not hold up in court unless there are multiple witnesses to said agreement) is silly.

If a person decides to record something on their camera, have a backup dummy memory card in case they want to seize it on the spot. Agree to hand the [dummy] card over, they'll review it and just figure you had deleted it, putting their mind at ease that their actions were not recorded (at least, this is what I would do; I am not a lawyer clearly).

Again, at the very least, if an event is occurring in the full view of the public, making it illegal to record it is just plain stupid.

Last edited by Incognito; 06-02-2010 at 08:19 PM.
(Offline)   Reply With Quote
Old 06-02-2010, 08:18 PM   #4 (permalink)
Senior Member
standardman's Avatar
Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: Manchester, England
Posts: 3,690
You can buy memory cards with wifi connectively now that can automatically upload to, say, your flickr account. The law is preposterous.
(Offline)   Reply With Quote
Old 06-02-2010, 08:37 PM   #5 (permalink)
Senior Member
EastTexas's Avatar
Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: Omaha, NE
Posts: 1,259
I found it rather hypocritical too.
Police have the dash and on-uniform cams now so that they can defend themselves against wrongful accusations made my the public.
This law basically says citizens don't have the right to protect themselves from wrongful accusations. If they try to defend themselves it's a felony.

Here's a scenario. I own a store and I have a security cam in the alley covering a door.
We all admit cops are humans. This cop has to piss and can't make it to a restroom. He kind of like Keith did once, decides to publicly urinate in my alley. With these laws you know who gets in trouble if I wanted him to be cited for public urination. Me... felony 5-10 years for recording on duty police officer.

A lot of donut shop owners are going to have to remove all their security cameras or face jail time.
(Offline)   Reply With Quote
Old 06-02-2010, 08:41 PM   #6 (permalink)
Senior Member
standardman's Avatar
Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: Manchester, England
Posts: 3,690
I didn't even think of the on-uniform cams, that's a good point. There's really no defence for it.
(Offline)   Reply With Quote
Old 06-02-2010, 08:45 PM   #7 (permalink)
Senior Member
54-hour Marathon 2013 Kickstarter Backer
John Galt's Avatar
Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: Nude Hampster
Posts: 1,971
We're running into this a lot with the Free State Project in NH. Interesting how the conversation changes when instead of saying that you're recording them, you're able to say that you're broadcasting live through Qik.

Qik | Record and share video live from your mobile phone

You can stream straight to your Youtube page.
(Offline)   Reply With Quote
Old 06-03-2010, 02:25 AM   #8 (permalink)
Senior Member
Ant-LOX's Avatar
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Philadelphia
Posts: 273
I shoot photos in downtown Philadelphia a lot. And one of my favorite subjects to photograph is the Ben Franklin Bridge.

I've always wanted to shoot video on the bridge, and take photos from the bridge, but they have non-stop security cameras installed, and a buddy of mine was stopped by police, when he was taking a picture of a near-by bridge. He just snapped a picture so he could draw it.

So now, I just take photos from street level, or from known tourist spots.
(Offline)   Reply With Quote
Old 06-03-2010, 09:49 PM   #9 (permalink)
Senior Member
djoh615893's Avatar
Join Date: Feb 2008
Location: Florence, TX
Posts: 166
Just to be clear, a lot of the cops who are opposed to being filmed are insecure in the face of their own inabilities to manage themselves under the immense pressure of the job and the ways they act out against strangers by using their police powers as a tool. And the corruption runs wider and deeper than most people know. The more clever folks can still get away with the filming and the posting without being caught. There is more accountability necessary to really put an end to the silliness.
(Offline)   Reply With Quote
Old 06-04-2010, 03:27 PM   #10 (permalink)
Junior Member
dazmania83's Avatar
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: Cymru
Posts: 0
here's a link to an overview of the current legislation in the UK.

this is a good starting point. I had it free on a photography magazine a while back and seeing as this topic came up I finally gave it a read.

I had no idea how common it was for photographers to become victimised but a quick search brings up similar stories where people are being challenged when they are within their rights.
(Offline)   Reply With Quote

Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are Off

All times are GMT -5. The time now is 11:25 AM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2023, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
SEO by vBSEO 3.6.1
Keith and The GirlAd Management plugin by RedTyger