It Comes Straight From the Top

Radley Balko interviewed three law enforcement officials about why it is ok to charge people for videotaping the police, and the results are pretty horrifying. One prosecutor, who charged someone with 5 felony counts of taping cops that could net the man 75 years in prison basically shrugged his shoulders and said “the law is a bitch,” while another said the following:

But what about cases where video clearly contradicts police reports, such as the McKenna case in College Park?

“You have 960,000 police officers in this country, and millions of contacts between those officers and citizens. I’ll bet you can’t name 10 incidents where a citizen video has shown a police officer to have lied on a police report,” Pasco says. “Letting people record police officers is an extreme and intrusive response to a problem that’s so rare it might as well not exist. It would be like saying we should do away with DNA evidence because there’s a one in a billion chance that it could be wrong. At some point, we have to put some faith and trust in our authority figures.”

Pasco is the head of the Fraternal Order of Police. No wonder you have so many shootings and so many bad cops out there when the fascist mindset comes directly from the top and is passed down the ranks.

The new normal in America is that it is your patriotic duty to film ACORN workers in order to smear them, but out of bounds to film cops breaking the law or abusing their authority.






66 replies
  1. 1
    Napoleon says:

    How could that possibly be illegal? There is no way. That is BS.

  2. 2
    demimondian says:

    What’s their problem? If they haven’t done anything wrong — and the head of the FOP says that they haven’t — then they’ve got nothing to be afraid of, right?

  3. 3

    Letting people record police officers is an extreme and intrusive response to a problem that’s so rare it might as well not exist

    The stupid. It burns with the heat of a thousand suns.

    This has to end up at the scotus at some point.

  4. 4
    Hunter Gathers says:

    And they wonder, openly mind you, why everybody hates them.

  5. 5
    Jay B. says:

    Letting people record police officers is an extreme and intrusive response to a problem that’s so rare it might as well not exist.

    Translation: We have to protect police privacy rights in order to be able to eviscerate yours when no one is looking.

    At some point, we have to put some faith and trust in our authority figures.

    Translation: As an authority figure, I’m going to say something so repellent and transparently self-negating that you’ll be too stunned to respond. It’s like a verbal taser.

  6. 6
    Bill Murray says:

    Letting people record police officers is an extreme and intrusive response to a problem that’s so rare it might as well not exist

    Isn’t that backwards? Letting police officers record people is an extreme and intrusive response to a problem that’s so rare it may as well not exist is an excellent argument for getting rid of the security state apparatus that is taking over America

  7. 7
    patrick II says:

    Of course the response we normal civilians hear when someone is invading our privacy is that if you are innocent, (as he is contending the police are nearly all of the time) then you have nothing to worry about if your privacy is intruded upon. And in these cases expectation of privacy should not even be an issue since they are interacting with the public.

    Although never perfectly applied the principle that the law applies equally to all is not even a pretension anymore.

  8. 8
    Midnight Marauder says:

    @Napoleon:

    How could that possibly be illegal? There is no way. That is BS.

    Well, this is one way:

    Currently, an Illinois man has been charged with a Class 1 felony for audio taping his arrest in the Chicago Loop. Chris Drew, of the Artists’ Free Speech Movement, was arrested in the Loop for refusing to abide by the peddler’s law by not registering with the city before he sold his art. The charges for the misdemeanor peddling violation were dropped, while the charge for violating the Illinois Eavesdropping law was not.
    __
    The Illinois Eavesdropping Law is one of twelve other states to require that all parties consent to being recorded. Illinois’ law is especially strict, as it does not include like many other states, an exception that allows for videotaping in spaces where “no reasonable expectation of privacy exists” (i.e. public spaces). If consent of all parties is not offered, citizens recording “conversations” can be charged with a Class 1 felony, which carries a penalty of up to 15 years in prison and a $25,000 fine.
    __
    In practice, the eavesdropping law is currently being used in several states to either prevent citizens from recording on-duty police officers or to punish them when they do record on-duty police officers. The police officers rationale is that they did not consent to being recorded, which violates the “two-party consent” rule in the eavesdropping law.
    __
    In a motion to dismiss the felony charges against Drew, his attorneys argued that the Illinois eavesdropping law is too broad in its definition of “conversation” and violates Drew’s First Amendment rights. Their March 26 motion was denied.

  9. 9
    jwb says:

    I don’t see the FOoP winning this particular PR battle, actually. They might continue to win the political battle and keep it illegal, but I would bet money on the fact that we, the people don’t like it, however much deference the police get otherwise.

  10. 10
    beltane says:

    @Midnight Marauder: A Class 1 felony? Something about killing a fly with a nuclear weapon comes to mind.

  11. 11
    Derelict says:

    Marvelous, isn’t it? After 9/11, America decided that the only real way to deal with those who “hate us for our freedoms” is to give up as many of those freedoms as possible as quickly as possible.

  12. 12
    Belafon (formerly anonevent) says:

    Wouldn’t it be more like requiring a second test on the DNA because the first test might be wrong?

  13. 13
    Brick Oven Bill says:

    Then why do they have dashboard cams?

  14. 14
    MikeJ says:

    A firm trying to sell cams to the Seattle cops pointed out that when there’s a question of what actually happened and the cops have videotape, the cop is almost always cleared. Of course I would guess that tapes that don’t clear the cop don’t survive long.

  15. 15
    Nom de Plume says:

    I’ll bet you can’t name 10 incidents where a citizen video has shown a police officer to have lied on a police report,” Pasco says.

    You’re right, I can’t name 10 incidents like that, because there aren’t many citizen videos of arrests to begin with. And if you have your way, there won’t be any.

  16. 16
    Jay B. says:

    @jwb:

    We the people lick boots. We’ve let this mindset happen. We’re willing to torture, fight endless wars, let the 4th Amendment go down the rabbit hole, criminalize pot and shrug off a growing security state’s rampant costs and abuses. We don’t give a shit about civil liberties.

    EDIT: And by “We” I don’t necessarily mean “You”. But even here on this board, whenever Greenwald is brought up or people get all het about rights, the phrase “civil liberties absolutist” gets thrown around. Usually with some variation of excusing encroaching state power.

  17. 17
    ulee says:

    I welcome our cop overlords and happily await my inevitable tasering.

  18. 18
    Roger Moore says:

    @Brick Oven Bill:

    Then why do they have dashboard cams?

    So if somebody does something to the police officer they have evidence. Of course if the evidence goes the other way, it will be conveniently lost and/or unavailable.

  19. 19
    patrick II says:

    If the police video prohibition becomes law in more states, no more Rodney King videos or seeing what police do to Bart commuters in Oakland. We are better off not knowing anyhow.

  20. 20
    Johnny B says:

    The Bush Administration is not given sufficient credit for realizing and acting on a central truth of our society. The majority of Americans would give up any right or liberty for the false hope of security. For all the claims ushered by Tea Baggers about impending revolution to restore lost liberties, there is simply no group or party willing to engage in such action to defend essential freedoms. For all the constant talk about Americans loving freedom, the vast bulk of our people are simply lemmings ready and willing to jump off any clift that corporate America and the security state tells them to. Does anyone doubt if the First, Fourth, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendments were repealed or disregarded, that the overwhelming response would be indifference or glee.

  21. 21
    jon says:

    The argument comes down to the fact that no one needs to videotape something that never happens, so it should be illegal.

    Is tracking Bigfoot a felony now? What class of felony is it to look under the bed for the Boogie Man? Will children who do this be charged as adults or as minors? The seriousness of this crime needs to be taken into account.

  22. 22
    MikeJ says:

    @patrick II: After every mass shooting, we here from certain groups of people, “if only those people watching had been carrying guns!”

    I’ve long wondered, what if those people on the BART platform hadn’t had video recording technology, but instead had firearms?

  23. 23
    AhabTRuler says:

    @Johnny B: No, the lefties would protest, would would then enable everyone to the left of Bernie Sanders to enthusiastically pursue the Keep America Safe from Nasty Threats and Capital Gains Tax Cut Amendment.

  24. 24
    Dave C says:

    The really scary thing is that guy probably has no idea what a galaxy-sized douchebag he sounds like.

  25. 25
    lamh32 says:

    OT, but did anyone see that video of Palin and the Alaskan school teacher? The woman is such a fake… what we all know, not confirmed, still…

    Here’s the video, watch the part where Palin ask the woman what she does, and when she says she’s a teacher, Palin rolls her eyes at the woman.

    Wanna bet the footage never make it onto the TLC craptacular…

    An Alaskan confronts celebrity muck-raker, Sarah Palin – in Homer, Alaska…

  26. 26
    El Cid says:

    I think it should be illegal for people to film politicians whenever the politicians don’t want them too, or when the video might be used to show them in a negative light.

  27. 27
    BombIranForChrist says:

    I have an opinion, but I am waiting for my libertarian leaders to clear it.

  28. 28
    Poopyman says:

    In Cole’s backyard, tasing sleeping people.

    Would that that had been recorded.

  29. 29
  30. 30
    Corner Stone says:

    “You have 960,000 police officers in this country, and millions of contacts between those officers and citizens. I’ll bet you can’t name 10 incidents where a citizen video has shown a police officer to have lied on a police report,” Pasco says.

    As long as they keep us safe, I don’t have a problem with this.

  31. 31
    Napoleon says:

    @Midnight Marauder:

    Thanks.

    Here in Ohio you can record w/o the others knowledge, but the Illinois law is clearly unconstitutional. So TV-channel 3 videos a cop killing a protester by putting a gun to his head is illegal. Right.

  32. 32
    demimondian says:

    @Napoleon: That’s not at all clear.

    The question of having “no reasonable expectation of privacy in a public place” is an interesting one. It’s not clear whether that’s a given or not.

    If not, though, I wonder what would happen if someone argued that tailing them in a public place violated their privacy? Under the circumstances, I think that’s the obvious interpretation of the law in Illinois. If you track me with your police car, Mr. Policeman, isn’t that a violation of my civil rights in Napierville?

  33. 33
    Nylund says:

    @Brick Oven Bill:

    Then why do they have dashboard cams?

    That is a good point, if it was so wrong, why do they do it themselves? The funny thing is that I have a trial coming up and I have a DVD of that dashboard video and there are numerous instances of the officer’s police report directly contradicting what is easily heard and seen in the video. Its like, “dude, you knew you were being video taped, its YOUR camera, and you think still think you’ll get away with lying about what happened?” Not only that, there are numerous times the cop lies about what the law actually is. That is perfectly legal for them to do (or so I’m told), but the idea that its very rare to find a video that contradicts the officer’s account is laughable. If that was true, they’d have no problems with video. The whole reason its an issue is because they lie constantly, and blatantly (or at least, from my limited experience).

  34. 34
    burnspbesq says:

    Setting aside for the moment the fact that the Maryland frat boys who trash and set fire to businesses along Route 1 after every Duke-Maryland game deserve to be beaten, there have been well documented cases of abuse by the PG County cops. Ask Ta-Nehisi about his friend who got killed. The NYPD just settled a case brought on behalf of the family of a guy who was killed on the night before he was supposed to get married, for $7 million. And let’s not get into the stories I heard growing up from my grandfather and uncle who were street cops in Albany.

    Every police department runs amok on a semi-regular basis, they are completely without remorse for it, and they will perjure themselves without hesitation. It is absolutely insane to not allow evidence of their crimes to be gathered by citizens. Unless, of course, you think that a complete lack of accountability is a good thing.

  35. 35
    Dave C says:

    @Corner Stone:

    Doug-roller.

  36. 36
    asiangrrlMN says:

    I had to highlight this:

    At some point, we have to put some faith and trust in our authority figures.

    I’m still laughing with tears falling down my face. Not really, but that’s just priceless.

  37. 37
    Nylund says:

    I already have one instance of police officers lying on a police report, directly contradicting a video. Can’t we come up with 9 more in this thread?

  38. 38
    MikeJ says:

    @demimondian:

    If not, though, I wonder what would happen if someone argued that tailing them in a public place violated their privacy?

    I guess you didn’t read the earlier thread about the church that camps outside a strip club and posts pics and license plate numbers on the web.

  39. 39
    Stillwater says:

    @Brick Oven Bill: Then why do they have dashboard cams?

    BOB FTW!!

    Wait, what?

  40. 40
    Corner Stone says:

    @Dave C: FOP! FOP! FOP! FOP!

  41. 41
    chopper says:

    “Letting people record police officers is an extreme and intrusive response to a problem that’s so rare it might as well not exist. It would be like saying we should do away with DNA evidence because there’s a one in a billion chance that it could be wrong.”

    that’s about the dumbest thing i’ve ever heard.

    no, you halfwit, it’s like saying we should make sure the labs that perform DNA analysis are open to inspection. which i like.

  42. 42
    Joseph Nobles says:

    I smell bacon. Anyone else smell bacon?

  43. 43
    Dave C says:

    @Corner Stone:

    You’re exaggerated displays of enthusiasm aren’t fooling anybody, mister! :)

  44. 44
    demimondian says:

    @MikeJ: That would be illegal in Illinois, as a matter of fact.

  45. 45
    mclaren says:

    A lot of people have been wondering why so many police have recently gotten hyperaggressive, paranoid, ultraviolent and bizarrely trigger-happy with tasers and batons and guns.

    Turns out there’s a reason:

    Steroid abuse.

    Apparently it’s become an epidemic in police departments nationwide.

    See the video report “Police steroid abuse on the rise” from 2005.

    Or google “Dopers in uniform: police on steroids” from 2005.

    “To some police officers, the use of anabolic steroids is all about protecting themselves and the public.

    “But top law enforcement brass around the country are learning that the implications of a police force on steroids are far more frightening, Phoenix police Cmdr. Kim Humphrey said.

    “Humphrey talked about the trend yesterday at the International Association of Chiefs of Police conference in downtown San Diego.

    “He said steroid abuse has seeped into police agencies nationwide, but few departments test their officers for the drug.

    “Aggressive outbursts, excessive use of force, poor judgment and serious health problems have been associated with steroid abuse among officers. Not to mention the fact that the drug is illegal.”

    “Police chiefs fight steroid-abuse trend,” San Diego Union-Tribune, 2008.

    As well as bulking up muscle, steroids are apparently also
    addictive. They cause euphoria, paranoia, aggression, and in extreme cases psychosis.

    Just what you want in people who carry guns and tasers.

    For more info, google “Big Guns: When Cops Use Steroids
    Steroid Abuse Can Contribute to Police Brutality — Even Murder” by ABC News, 2005 and “Anabolic Steroid Use and Abuse by Police Officers” in Police Chief magazine from 2008 (available online).

  46. 46
    Alwhite says:

    If the cops are all pure & clean & good and only on the side of right then then have no fear of being taped. There are plenty of examples of the tape showing cops behaving badly. What this asshole does not want is proof when cops abuse their power, lie and cover up.

  47. 47
    Amir_Khalid says:

    @me: This might be a more apt message.

  48. 48
    Corner Stone says:

    @Alwhite: Tapes or no tapes. When a SWAT team busts into your home (wrong one) in the middle of the night and does its thing, with no punishment? I think we’re a little past the horizon.
    The days of the police sprinkling crack over the accidentally killed “bad” guy should be over. Maybe one day.

  49. 49
    PeakVT says:

    At some point, we have to put some faith and trust in our authority figures.

    Bullshit Conner.

  50. 50
    PTirebiter says:

    What about videotaping shoppers in retail stores? It’s hard to imagine how this stands up.

  51. 51
    AhabTRuler says:

    @Amir_Khalid: Sadly, SONY Music Entertainment says not.

  52. 52
    Amir_Khalid says:

    @AhabTRuler: Odd that Sony would block “American Skin” there but not here.

  53. 53
    mclaren says:

    @Corner Stone:

    I see what you did there.
    :-)

  54. 54
    daveNYC says:

    It would be like saying we should do away with DNA evidence because there’s a one in a billion chance that it could be wrong. At some point, we have to put some faith and trust in our authority figures.”

    Actually, we should just get rid of DNA evidence, because our authority figures are so trustworthy that juries should just lock up whoever they end up arresting. Gotta trust them authority figures to finger the right guy, right?

  55. 55
    Svensker says:

    If the cops haven’t done anything wrong then they have nothing to hide. Amirite?

  56. 56
    YellowJournalism says:

    @Stillwater: You are entering another dimension…you are entering, the Brick Oven Bill Zone.

  57. 57
    Yutsano says:

    @YellowJournalism: The pizza had better be good. And I’m talking butternut squash gorgonzola type quality here. Otherwise I want my electrons back.

  58. 58
    Throwin Stones says:

    Holy Shit, BOB’s been back for how long?

    I’ve read about a few of these incidents recently. When exactly did it become against the law to film police and how is that legal?

  59. 59
    Mark S. says:

    @asiangrrlMN:

    The part that slayed me was:

    a problem that’s so rare it might as well not exist.

    OT, a brother of mine, who I don’t keep in touch with much, told me he really likes Pam Geller. Geez, I knew he was kinda conservative, but I didn’t know he was that out there. I think I’d rather he just said he jacked off to the Glenn Beck show. Atlas Pam is fucked up!

  60. 60
    Cris says:

    Letting people record police officers is an extreme and intrusive response to a problem that’s so rare it might as well not exist. It would be like saying we should do away with DNA evidence because there’s a one in a billion chance that it could be wrong.

    Saying this makes no sense is an insult to non-sequiturs.

  61. 61
    asiangrrlMN says:

    @Mark S.: Ew. Just ew. To all the images presented in your comment.

    @Cris: That was fucking funny.

  62. 62
    Paul L. says:

    Don’t the Democrats cite Fraternal Order of Police as a authority when they want to push for more Gun Laws?

  63. 63
    Lalock says:

    People in Illinois should get a T-shirt which states: “I record all personal conversations. By engaging in conversation with me, you are tacitly agreeing to be recorded. If you do not wish to be recorded, do not engage in conversation with me.”

    Seems that would cover any legal objection. They’ve been warned, after all.

  64. 64
    Carl Nyberg says:

    I have personally witnessed an arrest where the police made multiple statements that were either inconsistent or contradicted by what I witnessed.

    Testifying for the defense in the case of resisting arrest were: a business owner, a crossing guard who worked for the police department and myself (journalist/military veteran).

    BTW, the officer in question deliberately defeated the automatic switch that would have recorded the incident in question.

  65. 65
  66. 66
    John Q says:

    A little late to the party here, but a better title for the story would have been – “Don’t tape me bro!”

Comments are closed.