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Police May Be Taping You

November 9, 2011 by  

Police May Be Taping You

A growing trend in law enforcement has police officers wearing on-uniform video cameras to capture encounters with the public from the officer’s point of view.

The cameras have already been fully implemented in departments in Cincinnati and Oakland, Calif., as well as Bainbridge Island, Wash., where they were initially tested, according to NPR. The idea is catching on with most law enforcement agencies, according to reports.

Police have for the most part warmly accepted the new addition to their uniforms — especially those in areas where controversies have arisen due to allegations of misconduct. Some officers, however, have expressed concerns about policies that require the cameras be on at all times, even if the citizen being spoken to does not wish to be on camera.

Other questions of privacy have also arisen concerning the cameras, including some about the kinds of calls to which officers often respond. Sgt. Rich O’Neill, president of the Seattle Police Officers’ Guild, told NPR that citizens may want to consider what it may mean to have a police officer show up at the door while filming.

“Maybe I’m there for something as small as a noise complaint,” O’Neill said. “Maybe I’m at your home for something much more serious, maybe it’s a terribly traumatic event, domestic violence victim, child abuse victim, and I’m going to be walking into that home, videotaping.”

Some critics also wonder if the tapes will be easily accessible to the public, since past incidents have demonstrated that departments are often unwilling to release dash cam recordings.

Sam Rolley

Staff writer Sam Rolley began a career in journalism working for a small town newspaper while seeking a B.A. in English. After learning about many of the biases present in most modern newsrooms, Rolley became determined to find a position in journalism that would allow him to combat the unsavory image that the news industry has gained. He is dedicated to seeking the truth and exposing the lies disseminated by the mainstream media at the behest of their corporate masters, special interest groups and information gatekeepers.

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  • s c

    This, like any other law enforcement issue that is laced with technology, amounts to a double-edged sword. The Patriot Act, which I’m told that a certain prez could have restricted, has been expanded (do we need to be ‘saved’ again?).
    Apparently, those utopian-leaning folks in Congress have been duped by their glorious ‘leader.’ Like it or not, the current prez will have to repeat his delusional behavior many times before our prostituted Congress countryclubbers have had enough.
    And when that happens, we may no longer have a nation left to call home. Already the barbarians are at the gate, and the miserable SOBs just happen to be in positions of power. Lord Acton nailed it.
    And the Bible talked about it long before Lord Acton was born [pride cometh before a fall].

  • 45caliber

    I can see why many of the cops like these. When there are people who insist they were mistreated by the police, the cameras can identify if they are telling the truth or not. But I can also see why the police might like to turn them off on occasion – such as speaking with an informant who wants to remain unknown or when they get into an argument with someone.

    Personally, I don’t care if they have them or not. I don’t do things that would make me look bad.

    • Areyou Kidding

      If you actually believe that because you “don’t do anything that would get you in trouble” that you won’t be falsely accused and/or harassed, you are only kidding yourself. That was YESTERDAY. TODAY, we have a COMPLETELY DIFFERENT police force. They have been MILITARIZED, BRAINWASHED and INDOCTRINATED. They also receive kickbacks from the confiscations they make. They are NOT your “friendly cops on the corner.” Most of them get out of their cars screaming and yelling about such things as your tags being 2 days over due. I know this from personal experience, as well as watching case after case of police abuse on Judge Napolitano EVERY SINGLE NIGHT. They do not get out of their cars acting like “human beings,” calmly asking you questions and asking to see your driver’s license and registration. More of them than not get out of their cars acting like mad men, no matter how small the “offense.” If you haven’t yet had the “pleasure” of dealing with the “New Police,” you eventually WILL, no matter how “good” you act. It is no longer about justice and treating people with respect until they have been given a reason NOT to treat them with respect. Today it is about going on a HUGE, UNNECESSARY, IMMEDIATE OFFENSIVE, regardless of what the “offense” may or may NOT be. Why can the police WITHHOLD THEIR videos from you, but they can STEP ON YOUR CAMERAS when photographing THEM and smash them, and there is nothing you can do about this, because the police are “exempt from prosecution.” How nice. What ever happened to “equal protection under the law,” meaning YOU and the GOVERNMENT are equally protected, and what they can do to you, you can also do to them. That no longer exists. TODAY, the so called “laws” are all made for the purpose of allowing the government to abuse the people. They aren’t legitimate laws at all. They are rules made to intimidate people and keep them “in line,” so that the government ALWAYS COMES OUT ON TOP AND YOU COME OUT LOSING! These “laws” are made to stack the deck against the people. If you haven’t “seen” this yet, you will. NOBODY, no matter how “good” you act or how much you “don’t give them a reason to go off on you,” is exempt from this type of abusive treatment, and it’s only going to get worse. In case no one has noticed yet, we are ALREADY LIVING UNDER COMMUNISM. Wake up and look around. If you know what a true REPUBLIC is, you will see that we have no freedom anymore. If you *think* you are free, you have drunk the Cool Aid of propaganda. The elections are a dog and pony show to give the people the ILLUSION that they still have a CHOICE about things. They have incrementally “conditioned” you to get used to being slaves, and if you have been ASLEEP during this process, you probably haven’t even noticed. Come out of your slumber America. It’s about 2 minutes to Midnight when it will be ENTIRELY TOO LATE to do ANYTHING about this. Unfortunately, I think it’s probably already too late, because people refuse to open their eyes and ADMIT that our country has been taken over by Communists and the Muslims are soon to follow. In some states, they are already using Sharia Law. How can this still be called America when OUR judges resort to using Sharia Law, the most brutal, horrible laws in the world. The police/government have made themselves exempt from prosecution, however, there is a law which says that if the police or any other government official OVERSTEPS THEIR AUTHORITY AND ABUSES YOU, you can SUE THEM PERSONALLY! This is about your only recourse. The problem with that is, the judges are also corrupt and almost ALWAYS SIDE WITH THE POLICE AND THE GOVERNMENT, so again, you will more than likely lose. People need to read the Declaration of Independence and follow what it says. That is the ONLY answer.

      • 45caliber

        I didn’t say I didn’t do anything to get myself in trouble. I said I didn’t do anything to make myself look bad. If you don’t look bad then you won’t be bothered since they have a problem finding anything on you to show the press. They want the press to make them look good for arresting you for looking bad.

      • Joe H.

        Areyou Kidding,
        I don’t know, I must live in a different universe. I was stopped by an officer the other day in Eastlake Ohio for doing 35 in a 25. the officer came up to my window, was very polite, asked me for my licence and proof of insurance. He came back, after checking my info and said “Mr H. you have a perfect record, no violations and i don’t want to be the one to ruin that. be careful and have a good day.” Maybe i was lucky, maybe we have a different class of police here. I don’t know, but I DO know that there are people that come off VERY offensive with the police, especially when some of them are wrong. That police could have cost me about 150.00 with court costs and all.

  • DanB

    So police can tape everything, but we cannot tape the police. Interesting. So the police get a right while the same right is being eroded from the citizens little by little, some places further along than others.

    • DavidO

      DanB where are you getting your information? While there have been a FEW instances of citizens being wrongfully arrested for videotaping police in some areas, more than 1 federal court has ruled that citizens may videotape the police. The main reason so many police agencies are equipping their officers with these recorders is due to one thing above all others LIABILITY. Are officer’s recordings used in court as well? Yes of course, but that isn’t the PRIMARY reason for them.

      The public may obtain officer’s videos with a subpeona, which I might add is the only way the police can legally obtain a private citizen’s video recording of them unless the videographer has already posted it on youtube or a blog in which case it’s already been made public and may be obtained by anyone.

      Just as with dash cameras, there are some officers who don’t like having to wear the body cameras. I can’t help but conclude that they’ve been bending if not breaking their agency’s SOPs at best or state laws at worst.

      As a supervisor, I’m responsible for my subordinate officers actions and I like having an extra way of “keeping an eye on them” since I cannot be present with them at every call or traffic stop.

      • eddie47d

        What’s a few instances of confiscation of cameras and threats to the public?!So what if they tell you you can’t record the police. They are the authority and they can arrest you if you disobey. They consider someone filming them a threat and police can indeed arrest you for “threatening” them. A camera does become a weapon which can be used for good or for harming someones integrity. I have heard of police taking camera phones and placing them in water to render them useless.Now should police have cameras? I think they could make a good case for justification but they should never tell a citizen that they can’t film the police. They do have cameras on police cars to record traffic stops. Those have been useful in proving behavior of the “perp” and sometimes the cops themselves.

        • DavidO

          Any instances of that is wrong, and the courts have uniformly put the issue to rest. A camera is not a threat, nor is someone videoing police activity. Conversely, a citizen shouldn’t have a problem being video taped by police. It does work both ways you know?

          I can assure you if one of my subordinate officers had arrested or even threatened to arrest a citizen because they didn’t like being video taped I’d suspend them on the spot and call the chief recommending that they he request the council fire them. We neither want or need officers who are either that ignorant or that badge heavy on our small force.

          As you said yourself though, it was a FEW instances in a FEW places.

        • wandamurline

          The Patriot Act is something that needs to be abolished. I am not taking the criminals over the police, I am just stating that at any airport on any day of the week, TSA can pull you form a line, grope you, seize your belongings without probable cause, without a warrant, without mirandizing and without your legal right to counsel…the same priviledges that are given to any criminal in this country … so does the criminal have more rights than the every day person trying to get on an airplane. This is where I have a problem with the Patriot Act….it gives entirely too much power to the government. When you take a photo of someone without their permission or knowledge, you are at risk of being sued….but it is okay for the police to video tape you without your knowledge or permission? I don’t think so….if they are taping you, you should be asked if it is okay and if you refuse, the camera needs to be turned off. So far, America has yet to become a police state…God knows we get closer every day.

      • Areyou Kidding

        This is good in theory, but this is not what normally happens in reality. If you are the supervisor of a group of policemen and truly do try to make things “equal” with respect to the officers and the public, I COMMEND YOU, for you are one of a very small, select group of police supervisors. I hope you can pass these values on to the ones who would abuse people without cause, which is the majority today. If you are truly concerned about protecting the rights of the public as well as the safety of your officers, I say THANK YOU to you. You are a rare type of police officer in today’s world.

      • Joe H.

        DavidO,
        I have a friend whos son has a “dashcam” of his own. All he needs do is hit a switch and it records all that happens at the drivers window. He also has a voice recorder on his keys that records all conversations. A little paranoid, but he calls it being safe.

  • Roadkill

    MARTIAL LAW BY JUNE 2012

  • CP

    DanB, we most assuredly can tape the police, whether they like it or not. With just a bit of looking, you can find small video cameras with major internal storage that look like pens in your pocket. Unless YOU tell someone, no one will know it is there, and whether or not it is working. Incidentally, it is legal to record any interaction you may have with anyone out in public, whether it is legal to tape a phone conversation without both parties consent or not. There is no assumption of privacy when you are on a public street or sidewalk, and you can most assuredly record anything going on in your home.

    • jimmy the greek

      You got that right CP

    • DavidO

      You are correct CP, and just as citizens may video tape police (and other citizens) in public, they may be videoed by police or other citizens. There is no expectation of privacy in public. Period. I don’t care if anybody video tapes me on duty in public, because I don’t do anything that I wouldn’t want made public anyway.

      I have seen several times in the past when I wished that someone WAS video taping what was happening.

  • Thor

    Cops lie…citizens lie…cameras and recording devices tell the truth. If we allow the cops to record only when they want to then cameras can be manipulated into lying; the very same may be said when citizens record the police and then edit to tell the story they want to tell. The technology does not cause the dilemma; human veracity does. Whether we have the technology or not, the conundrum will still exist.

    • DavidO

      I won’t say you’re wrong, but if an officer is caught lying in court their career is over, not to mention the judge they lied to will prosecute them to the fullest extent of the law and rightly so. Any judge that failed to do so isn’t worthy of sitting on the bench and any chief who’ll keep or hire an officer who perjured themselves isn’t worthy of keeping their position.

      There are only a few dinosaurs in the LE profession who still spout about “the thin blue line” meaning that “cops don’t prosecute other cops”. Those of us who take pride in our profession and take the public trust bestowed on us seriously do not want dirty cops among our ranks.

      I disagree with you that cameras tell the truth though, they show only one angle of a 360 degree scene, but they do tell the truth about the angle they cover. There have been several Officer Involved Shootings that have been taped from in car dash cams that didn’t show that the suspect was armed (although officers could clearly be heard giving loud verbal commands for them to “put the gun (knife) down!”, “don’t come any closer of I’ll shoot!”, but security cameras in the area did. And yes, before the security video tapes were obtained far too many people didn’t believe the officers because no weapon was visible due to the dash cam’s angle. As others have said, it cuts both ways.

      • independant thinker

        “There are only a few dinosaurs in the LE profession who still spout about “the thin blue line” meaning that “cops don’t prosecute other cops”.”

        I think that would depend on the department. A large department that has a history of corruption would, I think, be much more likely to use “the thin blue line” than a smaller department such as you said you work in.

      • Areyou Kidding

        Hi, you sound like a “good guy,” but I’m sure you DO KNOW that it is perfectly legal for the government to LIE to the people, but it is a FELONY for people to lie to the police or any other government official. The judicial branch is FULL OR CORRUPTION and there are also MANY corrupt police. Are you aware that along the southern border states in the US, the police are stopping cars, confiscating all of their cash, not charging the PERSON with anything, letting them go, then the cops get to KEEP part of the cash or other things that they have just confiscated? Maybe you are not aware of these things that are going on. They call this “In rem,” meaning that, rather than charging the PERSON with the “crime” of hoarding cash, (yes, believe it or not – that is now considered a “crime”), they charge the THING, meaning the MONEY with the crime. Utterly ridiculous! But these are the kinds of things going on in this country today, but, of course, the lame stream media will never report these things. I have seen the videos. People, including the police are just SO UNAWARE of the things that are quietly and currently going on in this country. Even if they do know, SO MANY people just can’t bring themselves to BELIEVE that this can happen in the United States of America. The “Powers that Be” are banking on this, and so far, it seems to be working quite well.

      • HHH

        DividO – I am certainly in agreement with everything you say, within the context of a just, moral and ethical society; problem is that we are not in one – rather we are in the best possible in the world, so many think that makes it just / moral / ethical etc. and that just isn’t so!

        I’ve been military police, GITMO Trained Brig Officer and Sherriff Dept., etc. My experience has also been that of Field Training Officer and ‘Watch Commander’ (some police units call it ‘desk Sargent’; some ‘Captain of the guard’; some ‘Duty captain’, some ‘Unit Lt.’), or basically stated for those unfamiliar with the terms, in charge of dozens of duly sworn law enforcement personnel.

        In military and civilian legal actions of all sorts – from officer to officer supervisor to citizen involved in whatever capacity at a scene, I have repeatedly seen more than half of the law enforcement personnel in my life acting as you stated ‘Bad Heavy’, as we put it ‘adrenaline junkies trying to make an excuse to illegally beat down a supposed suspect in order to get a rush’ – and yes, I am saying your description and mine are completely equal.

        I highly recognize the spirit you bring to the conversation by showing that there is absolutely no room for police of any sort to do illegal things and you would take every measure possible to stop it. I commend you for your stance, but I have to ask about either the sincerity or the self-delusions you have had given my direct experiences of this: even though I always took every step against the crooked / bad cops, the judges almost never did anything nor did the higher ‘Chain of Command’ until there was finally such a bad situation present that they had to go ‘full bore’ into really harsh felony charges, just to save their own skins for not taking action prior to that! Also, it created an environment for me where there were fellow officers who saw me as a ‘threat’ because I expected them to 1st and foremost obeys the law themselves! I even had one judge tell me with one extreme corrupt cop that he ‘brought a lot of “Perps” in front of him (the judge) and that therefore he has to take it on good faith that this disgrace to the badge (with evidence and testimony of the cop giving more than mere ponderance of evidence to the cop being a piece of trash!), because otherwise the judge would not look right for all the convictions he had given out with respect to said waste of Oxygen behind a badge!

        I’m not trying to sound harsh on you, and I do believe you do what you can to keep your unit clean. I am saying though, you need to admit that even with outstanding Law Enforcement Supervision such as yourself, there is still cops in your direct chain of command who are ‘Badge Heavy’ and you cannot get rid of them or neutralize their presence in community do to the inherent bad issues of Sheriffs, Police Commissioners, Judges and all other officials being professionally or POLITICALLY bound to hold the ‘bad apples’ for fear of their own careers! Add to that the UNIONS, and you have cops that even the worst judges and officials of all sorts will try to get rid of to save their own tainted skins, only to have the AFL/CIO/TEAMSTERs/Hoffa/ etc. stop them from tossing the bad ones out!

        I feel that it would be extremely more convincing, and easier to buy-off on your stance – which again is good – if you admitted that these issues are a part of the “Blue Line”. Only when people stop the tiny 1% of their argument that is patently false, can they really say they are “Telling the Truth”: and that, my friend, is when the Public will start trusting Law Enforcement again… And in case you did not realize it, the fact that there is this much posting on this forum from CONSERVATIVES means that even the most POLICE LOVING in the USA now doubt the integrity of all Police due to the continued and ENABLED actions of the few!

  • Robin from Arcadia, IN

    My son is currently in college working towards a degree in law enforcement. Anything that will help him in his chosen field is okay by me. I wouldn’t like being video taped, but I believe it’s been at least 15 years since I have been stopped. Hopefully I won’t ever make that mistake again. It’s just that seat belts are a hinderance to me, but I don’t want another ticket for not wearing one.

  • TML

    I don’t see a problem with this. We can videotape them, they can video tape us. The video should be available the same as any dash cam. In fact, I think it’s beneficial to public safety even against the officers themselves, and should help to ensure good conduct by the officers.

    The concerns mentioned, such as an officer showing up at the door… well, ya don’t have to let them in either if they don’t have a warrant, and if you’re smart, you don’t even talk to them with your door open. Step outside the door and close it behind you.

    • Dennis48e

      From the article.

      “Some critics also wonder if the tapes will be easily accessible to the public, since past incidents have demonstrated that departments are often unwilling to release dash cam recordings.”

      And therein lies the problem. How easily can the recordings be accessed by anyone who is in said recordings or anyone else who has a legimitate interest in them?

      • TML

        Well, with all due respect, it shouldn’t be easy at all… since I wouldn’t want you to be able to go down and get a recording of an officer touring my home. Identifications and authorizations should be made in due process. “Unwillingness” to release a recording doesn’t necessarily imply that recordings are not released at all. Yet, I have no doubt that scattered cases of unlawful utter refusal to release might happen, as it probably has/does with dash cams, and in such instances, persistence under the freedom of information act should be pursued.

        • independant thinker

          “……..by anyone who is in said recordings or anyone else who has a legimitate interest in them?”

          Dennis DID NOT say it should be easy for anyone he said it should be easy for those in the recordings or those with legitimate interest. Legitimate interest would be laywers, parents, surviving family (if death or permanant dissability occurs) of those recorded.

  • Peach

    I think that one of the biggest problems is that the average citizen does not know what rights are guaranteed by the constitution. Anyone can see or record anything in public. As for being sued, it depends on what is done with the recording. I am a police officer. I have been recorded. I do not care if someone has a camera. I know how to do my job.

  • Mac

    From what I have seen of police dash-cam videos, these new uniform cams will more often protect the public from abusive officers. One aspect of public access to official recordings that I don’t like is the overuse of 911 audio by TV stations; the stations are sadly lacking in discretion when it comes to playing back audio of situations that just don’t need to be played over the air.

  • Buck

    This is a two edged sword , as it can also work for the citizens if used honestly and not just supporting the officers side of things . Constitutionally I don’t know where to stand on this , how does privacy law work when you are dealing with law enforcers ?

  • http://GOGGLE vaksal

    well,one thing is sure as the sun rising,that absolute power,breeds absolute tyrants,the thing to remember is who pays their wages,a good honest officer is worth their wages,but the bad ones should be fired,by those who pay their wages,not protected by police review boards,they should be brought before grand juries,and if found guility of breaking the law,under the color of athority,they should suffer a worst fate than a common law breaker,why? for they know better,as far as taping or recording,personally,whats good for the goose is good for the gander,and if its leagal for them to use in court,then the same should apply to them,for any evidance recorded of them breaking the laws,while in uniform,of course in these crazy times,the courts find fault with the word of the citizen that sees injustice preformed by those who feel they are above the laws of the land and the U.S.Constitution,but thats the state of the republic,these days,confusion and blindness,to right over wrong.as far as the bad folks,hang them all,who needs the garbage?

  • AJ

    Well it might just be a hindrence to the police officers also. I’m sure one would not like the filming of bribe or payoff being taken filmed. Or even sexual favors being received and performed for special favors in return.

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