Quick Legal Question

According to my understanding of WV code 62-1D-3, it seems like it is legal to film and record police in a public space where there is no reasonable expectation to privacy so long as you do not get in the way of them performing their official duties. Would any of you legal eagles tell me if I am reading that correctly?

Just something I was thinking about as I was renewing my ACLU membership and realized I had not printed out a copy of “Know Your Rights” and had not yet laminated a copy of the things to ask (“Am I free to go, am I under arrest, etc.”) for my new ride.

Potty trained at gunpoint, but I hate dealing with cops. They are usually wannabe commandos, are underpaid, usually (in my experience) undereducated fools who spent most of high school bullying people but weren’t hard enough to actually do military service, and now have a god complex and a gun. So I always have a printout of my rights in the car, and in the odd circumstance I get pulled over, I always park the car all the way off the road so they are not in the way of traffic, put on my hazards, turn off the engine and drop the keys outside the door, and then stick my hands out the window. I don’t want some trigger happy bubba being nervous.

I’ve only ever had one ticket, but I have thought through things because I don’t want to get shot by the side of the road by some ignorant hick with a badge and a bad attitude.

NWA was right, IMHO. I got pulled over twice in one hour in New Jersey and the second time was thrown to the ground at gunpoint and had a pig step on my neck. Our sin? Long hair, dead stickers, and WV plates. Got pulled over in Hagerstown, MD one time and delayed for an hour and a half while a K-9 unit was called to search the car. Why? I was driving my sister’s car with dead stickers to Washington College on the Eastern shore of MD to pick up my brother for Thanksgiving, and there was a Dead show at RFK that weekend so the fucking bacon was just pulling everyone with Dead stickers over to search for drugs. It didn’t matter they had no probable cause and I wasn’t speeding, because what do the fucking police care? They can do whatever and their Dept. will cover it up, and should shit go really downhill, fat Tony Scalia and the Supreme Court are in their pocket and have been since the war on drugs started.

It also didn’t matter that I had a high and tight and my military uniform with NCO stripes and a combat patch in the back of the car (as soon as I was done with taking Seth home I had to go to drill, so being stopped for an hour and a half was another kick in the dick). Douche canoes.

Fuck the police. You want to change the situation? Pay them more, require a college education, and demilitarize the mother fuckers. Half the assholes on the police forces all over the nation shouldn’t be allowed within a country mile of a weapon.

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74 replies
  1. 1
    burnspbesq says:

    It’s probably legal, but all that means is that you’ll have a good lawsuit after they beat the crap out of you (or, worst case, your estate will have a good lawsuit after you get blown into the next life).

    Lots of things are legal but unwise. Depending on the circumstances, phone-videoing cops can be one of them.

  2. 2
    John Cole says:

    @burnspbesq: I’ll take a beating for a couple million and getting some shitty cops fired. I’m white. They won’t kill me.

  3. 3
    NotMax says:

    Holding something in the hand(s) which if viewed from certain angles or in dimness could be mistaken for a snub-nosed revolver is not a wise choice during traffic stops.

  4. 4
    burnspbesq says:

    @John Cole:

    I’m white. They won’t kill me.

    Tell that to Kelly Thomas’ parents.

  5. 5
    columbusqueen says:

    Amen, brother.

    As a lawyer, I’ve seen a ton of shit from small-time cops who had no business even touching a gun. Most cops make me a lot more nervous than your average urban badass.

  6. 6
    ruemara says:

    @John Cole: Honey. This is new fascist America. You’re mostly black unless you have a money and a name. We are all octoroons now.

  7. 7
    NotMax says:

    @ruemara

    Can we coin the term blahgger?

  8. 8
    Violet says:

    Are dashboard cameras available here yet? Any way to get one of those to record whatever is going on, like being pulled over by a cop? Motion activated so it swings to record the motion would be useful.

  9. 9
    jl says:

    @John Cole:

    ” I’m white. They won’t kill me. ”

    I second the other commenter’s caution on that. Sound like brave last words to me.

  10. 10
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    The statute to which you linked deals with the interception and recording of electronic communications. It say is it is perfectly legal for you to record a phone conversation to which you are a party. I don’t really see it as addressing your question. I am not licensed in WV so I hesitate to say more than that.

  11. 11
    minachica says:

    @John Cole: Don’t be too sure about that. Even in Madison…

  12. 12
    patrick II says:

    In the small city I worked in after leaving service you had to pay $5000 to the local politicians to get on the police force. It was a screening test that allowed only corrupt people to become policemen.

  13. 13
    Violet says:

    This whole post could be seen as a challenge to cops to pull you over and make your life miserable. “You don’t like us now? We’ll see how well you like us after we search your car.”

  14. 14
    Punchy says:

    Cant truss da po-po, yo.

  15. 15
    Tommy says:

    Your state John might have an exact law against this. I don’t know. It is illegal in some states to record police.

  16. 16
    FlyingToaster says:

    @Violet: Actually, you want a dual-channel setup, recording in and out of the car.

    The biggest problem I see is that they run off of the lighter socket, and turn off with the ignition. I’d rather have one that had a battery and I manually have to turn it on and off.

    Here’s a review of the tech: Dashboard Camera Reviews

  17. 17
    🌷 Martin says:

    @John Cole: I think burnsey has it right. And you’re also likely right that they won’t kill you, but they might get closer than you care.

    That said, if the goal is to make it so black folks won’t get killed doing it, that inevitably means that white folks like us need to do it, get our asses kicked, and then sue them into next year.

  18. 18
    burnspbesq says:

    §61-5-17. Obstructing officer; fleeing from officer; making false statements to officer; penalties; definitions.

    (a) Any person who by threats, menaces, acts or otherwise, forcibly or illegally hinders or obstructs, or attempts to hinder or obstruct, any law-enforcement officer, probation officer or parole officer acting in his or her official capacity is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction thereof, shall be fined not less than $50 nor more than $500 or confined in jail not more than one year, or both fined and confined.

    And the cops will certainly testify that you resisted arrest when they tried to detain you for violating this statute by filming their activities, and they only used the minimum amount of force necessary to subdue you.

  19. 19
    StringOnAStick says:

    My BIL now works as a prison guard (they prefer the term “corrections officer”). He says the prisoners are mostly OK, and the worst thing about his job is how too many of the other guards are total, complete, power-drunk assholes. These are the guys who couldn’t make it as cops.

  20. 20
    Mike in NC says:

    The most inept officer on my ship left active duty early due to mental health problems. He soon resurfaced as a cop in some armpit town in south central Virginia. A drunk with a gun and a badge. Luckily he was fired before he could do any harm, and the next time I saw him was a few years later at the Armed Forces Reserve Center in Providence, RI. He soon disappeared from there, too. Probably shot himself as he often talked about.

  21. 21
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @John Cole:

    I’ll take a beating for a couple million and getting some shitty cops fired.

    To get a couple of million, you would need to do more than just take a beating. You would have to have suffered permanent, life-altering injuries. You don’t want that.

  22. 22
  23. 23
    Howard Beale IV says:

    @Violet: Amazon has tons of ’em-but like all things, you get what you pay for. They’re insanely ubiquitous in Russia. They’re also smartphone apps that do that duty as well.

    http://www.copblock.org/ is one of many sties that deals with recording LE with links and references.

  24. 24

    I’m not saying you’re overly optimistic, honey, but…be careful.

    I saw a traffic stop in Barstow on Sunday that was professional, resulting in the vehicle behind impounded. No one was executed, so I was fully satisfied…and as a resident of Albuquerque, surprised.

    The police came to the 911 call at my elderly neighbor’s house this afternoon, and I swear to the FSM I offered to leash them instead of her dogs. Because I’ve never seen her dogs bite, but I have seen the news.

    Breaking: White Albuquerque cops get testy when middle aged white ladies remind them that they ARE the most evident threat to my family’s welfare.

  25. 25
    Graham says:

    It’s been my experience that the very kind of people who are attracted to cop work are the kind of people who you do not want ‘protecting and serving’. Or at least subject them to 2 or 3 years of psychiatric inpatient treatment as a safeguard before turning them loose on the public…

  26. 26
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Graham: My grandfather always said that the people who want to be cops tend to be bullies.

  27. 27
    Violet says:

    Thanks for the input on dashcams. Seems like Cole needs one that runs on battery, he can manually start when he’s pulled over, is unobtrusive so the police might not notice it, and will record inside and outside the vehicle–all sides of it.

    Does that exist?

  28. 28
    Tommy says:

    @StringOnAStick: Yes. A few years ago I did something I should not have. I got a DUI. I then said something I guess you are not allowed to do in this nation, I asked for a lawyer. The police didn’t like this. I got sent to this jail and that jail. I’d never broken the law in my life but ended up in county jail, they can make it hard if not impossible for your brother to get you out of said jail (insert bond). I learned two things. (1) You never fight law enforcement and (2) Don’t fight the system.

    They will crush you if they want.

  29. 29
  30. 30
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Tommy: Were you convicted?

  31. 31

    @Omnes Omnibus: My uncle was the police chief in the Ohio farm town I grew up in.

    He never shot anyone, drew his gun once in 1978, and has a well stocked vault of stories about the various drunk and disorderly persons he took into custody over the years. 4 of my cousins are law enforcement officers. You don’t have to be an imbalanced asshole with emotional disorders to want to be a cop.

    I was past the testing and admitted to the academy before the now-Mrs explained that, in fact, I did have to choose between that option and her. I don’t think I’m inherently a bully; my vision (from my family and neighbor’s mom and BFF’s mom) was that being a cop meant defusing conflict and keeping everyone safe. That’s what my cousins do, along with the vast majority of decent people who got into law enforcement for the right reasons and resist the militarization of community policing.

    It’s the preponderance of bad apples, in this era, that make traffic stops complicated.

    Guess I feel strongly about this.

  32. 32
    🌷 Martin says:

    Pay them more, require a college education, and demilitarize the mother fuckers.

    I know my city police pretty well. Burnsey can attest to the reputation they have. It’s not a good one, but it’s gotten better. This is considered the safest city in the nation, so it’s not like these guys have daily imminent threats. The crime we do have is rare but really fucking weird. Bioweapons, low-grade terrorists, parents that go bonkers because their snowflake child didn’t get an A.

    Personally, the police are quite nice. They’ll help you block off your neighborhood for a party. They’re good for a chat when you bump into them. When they were doing the 24/7 protection details for the retired LAPD guys during the Dorner situation (two details a block from my house) the neighborhood set up a block party for each, barbecued, watched movies outside – took pretty good care of the details. (You can tell we were utterly terrified, even with the first two murders happening a mile away.) They aren’t quite so wildly racist as they used to be, but I’m under no illusions that if my last name were Martinez, that I’d have a very different experience with them. They’re paid extremely well here, and college educations are routine. They’re well trained and well equipped (though not so much militarized). So I’m not sure those are necessarily the answers because I don’t think the bit of softening that has happened were due to that, and they aren’t remotely as fair as they ought to be.

    One thing that seems to have helped is the community police program. Ms Martin did it a number of years ago and loved it. It’s not a civilian oversight board like the LAPD has but it actually seems to work as one because you have civilians regularly cycling through, taking classes, doing ride-alongs, etc. I think it’s helped make the police feel less isolated from the public, and put the public in a position to watch the day to day in a way that doesn’t seem like oversight. It’s certainly helped the community feeling.

  33. 33
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @PhoenixRising: Gramps did say “tend to be” which means not all are. Nothing personal aimed at you; and besides the old guy’s been dead for over 20 years. As you said, the preponderance of bad apples…

  34. 34
    mclaren says:

    I hate dealing with cops. They are usually wannabe commandos, are underpaid, usually (in my experience) undereducated fools who spent most of high school bullying people but weren’t hard enough to actually do military service, and now have a god complex and a gun.

    Amazing. That’s exactly my experience.

    But when Cole says it, suddenly it becomes profound wisdom instead of “ranting and raving” and evidence that he’s “off his meds” and “a troll.”

    It might be smarter to use a dashboard cam in your car connected to a laptop instead of holding the camera or recording smartphone in your hands. That way you can show the wanabe-Rambos that your hands are empty, and they probably won’t be smart enough to figure out that they’ve being recorded.

  35. 35

    @🌷 Martin: Say more, if you feel free to, about where this community policing program can be found online.

    In the event that the DOJ succeeds in providing Albuquerque’s police department with adequate oversight, we need all the good ideas we can get for healing the rift between our trigger-happy, traumatized thin blue line and the 98% of people who are not, in fact, running meth labs.

  36. 36
    Tommy says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: Yes. I felt it might be a good idea to you know, tell the truth. I was wrong. Should not have been behind the wheel of a car.* I went into court and told the truth. I can not express to you how well that didn’t work out for me. Telling the truth.

    * I got a ticket for doing 67 in a 55 area.

  37. 37
    Walker says:

    Once while crossing the Canadian border, I was pulled over and subject to a complete car search. My sin? I had Texas plates, so they assumed I had a firearm.

  38. 38
    MRL says:

    Hate to nitpick, but the 4th Amendment generally, and probable cause to search homes/vehicles in particular, are areas where Justice Scalia is actually quite strong. You should be aiming your ire at the authority-loving Breyer and Thomas, IMO, if anyone.

    Case in point is the recent (this week!) disaster of an opinion on the 4th Amen, and Scalia’s really great dissent demolishing it. Read here: linky

  39. 39
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Tommy: So you were not convicted of a DUI? Just a traffic violation? If so, the decision to ask for a lawyer paid off. As a result, your statement that “I learned two things. (1) You never fight law enforcement and (2) Don’t fight the system.” might be a bit off.

  40. 40
    Tommy says:

    @🌷 Martin: I mentioned a problem with police, but that was a town or two away.

    The police in my town rock, and I mean that in a good way. I don’t know how to explain it, but if I call 911 I want them to show up. I know all of them by name (small town) and I like them. Good folks.

  41. 41
    Tommy says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: No I was convicted.

  42. 42
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @Walker:

    Oh lord. I’m heading to Canada next week. They’re going to notice my Georgia plates, aren’t they?

    Thanks, Governor Deal!

  43. 43
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Tommy: Of the DUI or the traffic violation? Your comments have made it a bit unclear. Or maybe it is me.

  44. 44
    Tommy says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: Both. I recall standing there. I could have found a lawyer. I just felt that I was guilty. I should say as such. Honesty didn’t seem to be the best policy.

  45. 45
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Tommy: All I can say is that if you ask for a lawyer, get one. I’ve seen people taken in with a .17% BAC walk due to good lawyering. Whether you did something or not is distinct from your legal guilt.

  46. 46
    goblue72 says:

    Sorry to disappoint you Cole, but a lot of cops in major cities DO get paid well (like clearing $100k with the OT all of them seem to pull) and a lot of them in major cities have college degrees (its usually in something like Criminal Justice or Sociology – the degree usually lets them pull a salary bump under their union contract). And yet, despite it all, your average cop in most big cities is just as much as power-drunk a-hole who should be kept far away from firearms.

    Take the current city I am living in – Seattle. No good ole boys here. Highly educated local populace. Police earn good salaries and have lots of training. Hasn’t stopped them from being under a DOJ court-ordered consent decree for civil rights violations and systemic excessive use of force. In plain English, Seattle cops prefer to shoot first and ask questions never.

    Its endemic to cops. The answer isn’t more money or education. The answer is stricter police oversight and actually punishing enough cops by firing them and imprisoning them until they are brought to heel.

  47. 47
    NotMax says:

    One cop on the local force renowned for aggressively ticketing people going over the speed limit. He sets himself up at various spots where the posted limit drops down (at some spots, the lower limit lasts only 1/10 of a mile) and is, to be blunt, a real prick about it.

    Someone set up a web site to which people could post his location throughout each day and night. Used the officer’s name in the URL, which the Police Department complained about. So the site owner changed the URL but kept the site’s purpose and function intact.

  48. 48
    Culture of Truth says:

    I got pulled over twice in one hour in New Jersey

    Well that’s New Jersey. Live your whole life normally in another place and get pulled over in New Jersey, where, incdientally, police are very polite, but do commit perjury.

  49. 49
    Tommy says:

    Hey. Happy thought. This:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6klx6ViCYsw

    The BBC rocks.

    I recall telling my dad that Cash died. My knowing of him was Hurt by NIN. He was like Tommy, you don’t understand. You just don’t understand. Trying to get there.

  50. 50
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Culture of Truth: I’ve sped through NJ multiple times and never been stopped.

  51. 51
    NotMax says:

    @Omnes Omnibus

    Time was anyone traveling on I-95 learned right quick that the entire state of Maryland was a speed trap.

  52. 52
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Tommy: You grew up in Mayberry and you don’t know Johnny Cash?

  53. 53
    Burnspbesq says:

    @🌷 Martin:

    The scary part is that compared to some other departments around here (Anaheim, Huntington Beach, OCSD), the Irvine cops are practically saintly.

  54. 54
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @NotMax: Never drove that route. Oddly, I’ve spent very little time in MD. Had some crab in Baltimore and been to Annapolis, but that is about it.

  55. 55
    NotMax says:

    It may be inefficient from a deployment cost standpoint, but there is much to be said in favor of the old-fashioned practice of assigning cops to walk a beat and get to know the residents of the neighborhood, rather than being mostly cocooned inside a high-tech vehicle.

  56. 56
    Burnspbesq says:

    @MRL:

    Hate to nitpick, but the 4th Amendment generally, and probable cause to search homes/vehicles in particular, are areas where Justice Scalia is actually quite strong.

    And two days after writing a very solid opinion in a search and seizure case, he drops a massive turd like this morning’s AEDPA opinion.

  57. 57
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Burnspbesq: The AEDPA is a pernicious law and Scalia pushes it to (well, beyond) its limits.

    *Full disclosure: My judicial clerkship was due to extra funding allotted the judiciary following the passage of that law. Otherwise, I would have been third in a race for two spots.

  58. 58
    gian says:

    @John Cole:

    you drive a Subaru, not a Bentley. a used one at that.

    as for video recording, if you’re not mouthy, they might just break the phone and not your face.
    When the cops are committing a crime, they know it, and they know that video taping it is creation of evidence about it.

    You need Doug to play the Clash song “know your rights” for you:

    Number 1
    You have the right not to be killed
    Murder is a crime
    Unless it was done
    By a policeman or aristocrat
    Oh, know your rights

  59. 59
  60. 60
    MRL says:

    @Burnspbesq: Yeah he pushes AEDPA to/beyond its limits but that’s at least defensible; even a moderate reading of AEDPA still forecloses most state-to-fed Habeas cases in any area of law because its meant to be a harsh bar to fed court JD. And to the point on this topic jurisprudentially 4A claims are almost never cognizable on habeas anyway. Scalia is definitely hit-or-miss on crim pro and civil liberties and he’s an easy villain. But in this instance, Cole’s invocation of his name is off point.

  61. 61
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @MRL: Generally 4th Amend. claims are only cognizable in a habeas case if they are raised in the context of a Strickland claim.

  62. 62
    Memphisj says:

    Interesting discussion. http://www.flexyourrights.org is a good site to check out for dealing with the police, especially if you’re a person of color. But since so many people consent to searches and don’t understand that the police are legally allowed to lie, many get caught in a situation they might have walked away from.

    The flex your rights folks argue that if you remain calm, ask if you’re being detained then the cops realize they don’t have an easy mark and frequently will let you go. They also suggest strongly that you never consent to a search of your vehicle and to lock it when (if) you get out of the car. I know this is all easier said that done when officer friendly says “you don’t mind if I look around inside your car do you?” but it’s something to be aware, just like the ACLU guidelines.

  63. 63
    Honus says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: I am licensed in WV, have dealt with this law, and I agree with you. This is a wiretapping statute, and not meant to address john’s question.

  64. 64
    Honus says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: I am licensed in WV, have dealt with this law, and I agree with you. This is a wiretapping statute, and not meant to address john’s question.

  65. 65
    RSR says:

    apropos:

    Cops accused of terrorizing 22 Philly bodegas or corner stores won’t face charges; victims are outraged. bit.ly/1rrlZg9

  66. 66
    Manyakitty says:

    Don’t forget this whole civil asset forfeiture epidemic. Any of you legal types have advice for victims of that?
    https://www.aclu.org/criminal-law-reform/civil-asset-forfeiture

  67. 67
    Trinity says:

    I had to smoke a cigarette after reading this.

    Thank you John Cole.

  68. 68
    Rafer Janders says:

    @Tommy:

    Your state John might have an exact law against this. I don’t know. It is illegal in some states to record police.

    It is not. The Supreme Court addressed this issue two years ago when it:

    …. refused to review a federal appeals court decision finding it unconstitutional to enforce an Illinois state law that makes it a felony to videotape police officers working in public if a microphone is turned on. The law had been challenged by the American Civil Liberties Union, and a divided panel of the Chicago-based 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed earlier this year that it “restricts far more speech than necessary to protect legitimate privacy interests” and, “as applied to the facts alleged here, it likely violates the First Amendment’s free speech and free-press guarantees,” as Judge Diane Sykes explained in the majority opinion (PDF). On Monday, the nation’s top court declined to hear the state’s appeal, leaving the 7th Circuit ruling in force….

    http://www.abajournal.com/news.....t_Reports/

  69. 69
    hedgehog the occasional commentator says:

    @Walker: Sympathies. Nebraska state patrolmen have started pulling cars with Colorado plates over for going a mile over the speed limit, driving “erraticially” etc. Because of course we’re all carrying weed.

  70. 70
    Avery Greynold says:

    Making a copy for my kids. Cops will routinely lie and violate procedures “for the greater good”.
    Difficult place for kids is knowing how to handle the transition cops make from 1) asking for legally required items to: 2) asking harmless questions to: 3) asking questions that make a driver/resident either lie, self-incriminate, or give up their rights.

  71. 71
    Comrade Carter says:

    “Got pulled over in Hagerstown, MD one time and delayed for an hour and a half while a K-9 unit was called to search the car. Why? I was driving my sister’s car with dead stickers to Washington College on the Eastern shore of MD to pick up my brother for Thanksgiving, and there was a Dead show at RFK that weekend so the fucking bacon was just pulling everyone with Dead stickers over to search for drugs. It didn’t matter they had no probable cause and I wasn’t speeding, because what do the fucking police care? They can do whatever and their Dept. will cover it up, and should shit go really downhill, fat Tony Scalia and the Supreme Court are in their pocket and have been since the war on drugs started.”

    Hey, I remember that town! I lived there and grew up there! Nice to see they haven’t got past the treatment they gave me!

    That’s why I moved to Milwaukee, got a Brewers hat and went to college… And I never went back!

  72. 72
    ciotog says:

    Just read this:

    http://gawker.com/texas-deputy.....1567680651

    It made me want to resign from the human race, permanently. Not just because of what this d-bag did, but because, as some of the commenters pointed out, if the guy had shot a black teenager he’d have gotten a promotion, not fired.

  73. 73
    Joey Giraud says:

    Agree with John Cole completely. If anything he’s understating the truth.

  74. 74
    Ol'Froth says:

    Its my experience that most cops are military vets since almost all departments offer a bonus to vets on the written test since the 1970’s. There are states that have laws against recording public servents, but those laws are invalidated by a Supreme Court decision refusing to review a lower court’s ruling in an Illinois case.

Comments are closed.