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1st Circuit Upholds Right to Record Police in Public
August 31, 2011 10:02 PM   Subscribe

The U.S. First Circuit Court of Appeals has held that recording police officers performing their duties in public is a "clearly established first amendment right".

This decision promises to be a major blow to overzealous officers who have taken to arresting amateur reporters and concerned citizens who attempt to document police conduct and misconduct in public places. A full copy of the decision is available here (Warning: PDF).

Of course this has not stopped police departments outside of the First Circuit from engaging in business as usual.
posted by epsilon (132 comments total) 61 users marked this as a favorite

 
Hell yeah.
posted by BrotherCaine at 10:05 PM on August 31, 2011 [5 favorites]


TIEM TO FAP SNAP!
posted by tumid dahlia at 10:06 PM on August 31, 2011


Time to get Black Panther-style patrols going again.
posted by elektrotechnicus at 10:07 PM on August 31, 2011 [11 favorites]


Can someone explain, for the non-US among us, how the circuit system works?

I mean, is each state a circuit? What are the boundaries?
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 10:12 PM on August 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


Finally some sort of news about civil liberties that that does not make me cringe. I can almost imagine BART Police being filmed 24/7 now ... or they would if the damn BART ran 24/7.
posted by chemoboy at 10:14 PM on August 31, 2011 [2 favorites]


You know what's going to be the theme song for freedom? Shoot the cops! Shoot the cops! Take your cameras out your pockets people!
posted by yeloson at 10:15 PM on August 31, 2011 [2 favorites]


U.S. Federal Judicial Circuits
posted by squorch at 10:16 PM on August 31, 2011


I mean, is each state a circuit? What are the boundaries?

There are 11 numbered circuits, the DC circuit and a federal circuit that takes cases based on their subject matter. this article has a map
posted by delmoi at 10:16 PM on August 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


Can someone explain, for the non-US among us, how the circuit system works?

The circuits are the appellate courts that deal with federal law in groups of states and territories. The first circuit covers some Northeastern states and Puerto Rico. Basically they create binding interpretations of federal law, but they are only binding on the states within the circuit. If two circuits have a differing interpretation of federal law, the Supreme Court usually hears the case and sets nationwide policy on the matter.
posted by epsilon at 10:18 PM on August 31, 2011 [5 favorites]


Towns were small and didn't need a full-time judge so one would loop around in a "circuit", holding court in the various towns. They have lots more judges now but the term persists.
posted by longsleeves at 10:22 PM on August 31, 2011 [2 favorites]


Some details:

The language "clearly established" in these cases is a term of art. To simplify, it means that the Constitutional right is clearly established so that the government cannot say it was unclear whether or not the person whom it prevented from doing something was engaged in a constitutionally-protected activity.

Haven't read the decision, but my personal experience is that the police are helped by being filmed in the vast majority of cases.

This does not mean that if someone stuck a camera in a police command post outside a hostage scene they could broadcast it to those holding hostages. It means that the court may rule on the reasonableness of the denial of a right. All rights may be curtailed by the government--it can prevent you from yelling fire in a crowded room, or from speech that could cause imminent harm to others, like a bunch of racist bikers yelling "kill those black counter-protesters" into a bullhorn.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:23 PM on August 31, 2011 [4 favorites]


I thought, from a totally non-informed perspective, that decisions in a circuit helped inform decisions in other circuits?
posted by maxwelton at 10:23 PM on August 31, 2011


The relative sizes of the first and ninth circuits are nuts.
posted by kenko at 10:27 PM on August 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


I thought, from a totally non-informed perspective, that decisions in a circuit helped inform decisions in other circuits?

They are considered "persuasive" but not binding, meaning that other circuits are not required to treat them as having the power of law. By contrast a federal judge within a circuit in which a case is decided must give that case weight as though it were law. Of course appellate judges can overrule prior precedent but district court judges cannot.
posted by epsilon at 10:31 PM on August 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


Think of how bad the police are in the USA. Then think of how completely awesome they are in terms of world standards. This can only make things better.

Hey coppers! It might be time to be filmed catching some real crims, instead of insanely ranting at a traffic stop for 35 minutes.

It's kinda sad that we have to be celebrating such a "gimme" eh?
posted by uncanny hengeman at 10:34 PM on August 31, 2011 [6 favorites]


Don't worry folks, this will be derided in the popular media as "liberal activist northeastern judges trying to hobble our brave policemen" and it'll be reversed in a 5-4 USSC decision before long.

We can't let citizens get in the way of the State's police powers, now can we?
posted by Avenger at 10:38 PM on August 31, 2011 [12 favorites]


Haven't read the decision, but my personal experience is that the police are helped by being filmed in the vast majority of cases.

Only if they're doing things they're supposed to be doing. If they're doing things they're not supposed to, it doesn't help them at all.

However, it definitely helps society when police are filmed at all times.
posted by kafziel at 10:40 PM on August 31, 2011 [7 favorites]


Can we just get this added as a right - so we can feel like a free country again?
posted by Bighappyfunhouse at 10:47 PM on August 31, 2011 [10 favorites]


Haven't read the decision, but my personal experience is that the police are helped by being filmed in the vast majority of cases.

Only if they're doing things they're supposed to be doing. If they're doing things they're not supposed to, it doesn't help them at all.

er, I think that is exactly what is implied, that the cops are, in a vast majority of cases doing what they are suppose to be doing. And that well may be exactly true. What always gets reported and highlighted about whatever profession or sub-group are the worst stories, not the mundane day to day everything is going ok stories.
posted by edgeways at 10:59 PM on August 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


Basically they create binding interpretations of federal law, but they are only binding on the states within the circuit.

Wow. That is completely crazypants. You have inconsistent interpretation and application of Federal law in different areas.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 10:59 PM on August 31, 2011


and fwiw, there is this story of a fellow facing 75 years for filming the police.
posted by edgeways at 11:01 PM on August 31, 2011 [5 favorites]


Uncanny: What countries do you compare them against that they come out as awesome? And what metric are you using?
posted by aychedee at 11:02 PM on August 31, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm happy, but also saddened this even got to court, wtf is going on where they have any case at all in a free country?
posted by jonclegg at 11:04 PM on August 31, 2011


What countries do you compare them against that they come out as awesome?

Er, that would be all the countries of the world.

And what metric are you using?

Just a gut feeling, sizzlechest. From what I've experienced in real life and what I see on the tee vee and what I read about on the 'net. What else can I go by? I'm pretty sure some kind of semi-official list exists regarding rights of citizens, which would closely correlate with how "awesome" their police force was.

[USA wasn't in the top 10 last time I checked]
posted by uncanny hengeman at 11:09 PM on August 31, 2011


Don't worry folks, this will be derided in the popular media as "liberal activist northeastern judges trying to hobble our brave policemen" and it'll be reversed in a 5-4 USSC decision before long.

We can't let citizens get in the way of the State's police powers, now can we?


It's like goddamn clockwork - it is absolutely not possible for there to be a post about any kind of a victory for civil liberties or the left here without somebody immediately rushing in to explain why it's not actually a victory, and the conservatives will overturn it soon, and anyway it doesn't go far enough. It's like there's a positive will to be defeated and powerless, and anything that doesn't fit that narrative must be furiously handwaved away. Maybe for once, if they are going to win, we should make them actually beat us instead of doing it for them in our own heads?
posted by strangely stunted trees at 11:10 PM on August 31, 2011 [104 favorites]


No, trees, I call it realism. The battle is not won or lost until the last appeal has been decided, and have you SEEN our Court of Final Appeal lately?
posted by oneswellfoop at 11:19 PM on August 31, 2011 [3 favorites]


I'm with strangely stunted trees on this one... Unless there's an unusually powerful cop lobby in DC I don't think this is fated to failure. And the specter of terrorism also seems to be holding less and less sway in American minds as time goes on. Maybe I'm just being hopeful.
posted by Doleful Creature at 11:20 PM on August 31, 2011


Well said, strangely stunted trees.
posted by chemoboy at 11:24 PM on August 31, 2011


The case may be never be heard by the Supreme court. The decision would have to be appealed and then the Supremes would have to agree to hear it. They do not, in fact they cannot, hear every case heard in the circuit courts. They pick and choose. But given the current state of the court, they may hear this one. Let's hope not
posted by charlesminus at 11:28 PM on August 31, 2011


No, trees, I call it realism. The battle is not won or lost until the last appeal has been decided, and have you SEEN our Court of Final Appeal lately?

Realism and pessimism aren't always the same thing. There are a lot of IFs between here and this win being knocked down and all those IFs will take a long time IF they even come up.

Try to enjoy something for a minute.
posted by Winnemac at 11:30 PM on August 31, 2011 [2 favorites]


Pessimism? I call it vigilance. Don't let your guards down, this game isn't over. Keep the celebration short and don't get too drunk, 1 circuit is good, but not game. Victory is snatched from our hands too often, even as we celebrate. Keep pushing, as hard as you can. We can't allow ourselves too much celebration over one little victory on one issue. We're much too far behind, for 30 years.
posted by Goofyy at 11:47 PM on August 31, 2011 [9 favorites]


The U.S. First Circuit Court of Appeals has held that recording police officers performing their duties in public is a "clearly established first amendment right".

So Chicago is on a different circuit, I assume (and probably know) since its in the middle of the country. It made nat'l news a while ago for their "can't record the popo".

So how long till this goes to a higher court whose decision is a bit more than "persuasive"? Cuz I miss chicago sometimes.
posted by hal_c_on at 11:54 PM on August 31, 2011


I genuinely do not understand how this is difficult for police officers. We grant them the right to carry a gun, use force, speed, and perform other acts explicitly to serve and protect the public and the greater good. If they are utilizing ANY of those rights for ANY other purpose, they are overstepping their bounds and should not be eligible to have those rights granted.

This is one of those times where the argument "if you're not doing anything wrong, then you shouldn't care that someone is watching you" is 100%, completely valid. Because you are given elevated rights, above and beyond those of the rest of us, you are held to a higher standard. If we're unable to monitor you or your adherence to that standard, abuse, corruption, and other problems fester. If you do your job correctly (even if that requires use of force), then it shouldn't matter who is watching.

I say this with a best friend who is a cop who had to shoot someone last week. No doubt he'd want a videotape to back him up, but his was a clean shoot and he's been cleared. There wasn't a tape, but if there was any question that he acted inappropriately and he believed he was in the clear, the tape would be all that's there to help. That's why so many departments have installed dashcams: tape can prove you're in the right just as well as it can prove you're in the wrong. His wasn't a decision made lightly, but it was something he had to do as he was about to be shot himself.

The idea that cracking down on concerned citizens for filming in public when they haven't done anything else is absurd. And it's a right that's otherwise been established in full before. Glad to see the 1st circuit hit this one out of the park. It was starting to get insane.
posted by disillusioned at 12:04 AM on September 1, 2011 [21 favorites]


The more there's a public record of police actions, the better off the public is. This is a win, even if it's possible to overturn later. But Christ, I can't imagine even Scalia voting against this — the strict constructionist view is pretty much the same as the liberal one here.
posted by klangklangston at 12:23 AM on September 1, 2011


Yeah, Kennedy and one of the four left of center judges would have to wake up on the right hand side of the bed for this to fail.
posted by Slackermagee at 12:34 AM on September 1, 2011


The abuse of wiretap laws in Massachusetts by both police and prosecutors has been disgusting.
posted by thecjm at 12:39 AM on September 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


Er, that would be all the countries of the world

Maybe if the global average is dragged down by the really shitty countries, but among the developed countries I've lived in, the levels of corruption and brutality and incompetence and violence of the US forces seems way beyond the norm.

And it's not just bad apples either, it's everywhere, even in the training - police here are taught to escalate in situations where better police forces are taught to calm the situation down.
posted by -harlequin- at 12:39 AM on September 1, 2011 [8 favorites]


With Each Victory Comes Setbacks In Wiretapping War: ACLU case approaching hearing to change Illinois law
posted by homunculus at 12:40 AM on September 1, 2011 [3 favorites]


"Maybe if the global average is dragged down by the really shitty countries, but among the developed countries I've lived in, the levels of corruption and brutality and incompetence and violence of the US forces seems way beyond the norm.

And it's not just bad apples either, it's everywhere, even in the training - police here are taught to escalate in situations where better police forces are taught to calm the situation down.
"

Eh, based on population, you really think China, India, Indonesia, Brazil, Pakistan, Nigeria, Russia or Bangladesh have lower levels of corruption or police brutality?

The US really is pretty good, on the whole.
posted by klangklangston at 12:49 AM on September 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


Haven't read the decision, but my personal experience is that the police are helped by being filmed in the vast majority of cases.

Except when they're not, like when BART police murdered Oscar Grant. The first thing the police did after shooting him in the back, before even calling an ambulance, was try to confiscate cell phones from other passengers.
posted by bradbane at 12:59 AM on September 1, 2011 [3 favorites]


I genuinely do not understand how this is difficult for police officers.

Certainly one of the guys in my dojo, a retired cop, is very supportive of more pervasive filming of the police, because his experience is more cases have been won by footage than lost.
posted by rodgerd at 1:01 AM on September 1, 2011


There need to be official limits regarding safe distance for recording. In no way should a private citizen be so close as to interfere with a police action; be harmed if a police action goes awry; or become an obstacle to spontaneous police action if events take an unexpected, dangerous turn. This will guarantee everyone's safety - citizen, person of interest, and the police.

75 years for what this guy did is ridiculous. I hope it gets thrown out. That said, he should get a clue about getting his junked up jalopies properly registered. I'll bet $$$ that the original complaint to the cops about his cars was made by a neighbor who got tired of the blight he caused in the neighborhood. I've had several neighbors in the past who were auto mechanic hobbyists - most were cool, but a few made the neighborhood look like a junk yard.
posted by Vibrissae at 1:04 AM on September 1, 2011


Just a gut feeling, sizzlechest. From what I've experienced in real life and what I see on the tee vee and what I read about on the 'net. What else can I go by? I'm pretty sure some kind of semi-official list exists regarding rights of citizens, which would closely correlate with how "awesome" their police force was.
______
Maybe if the global average is dragged down by the really shitty countries, but among the developed countries I've lived in, the levels of corruption and brutality and incompetence and violence of the US forces seems way beyond the norm.


I've lived all over the planet, including in many "shitty countries", and the only place where the police really scare me is the US. It isn't a question of what the law actually is, but about approaches and attitudes. In many places the police are venal, looking out for their own self interest, wanting to collect bribes. But that also makes them human - you can deal with them on an individual level. In the States it always seems like you are already a prisoner - they are waiting for a sign of non-compliance to feed you into the system, they are fishing for a pretext to fuck up your life if your obeisance is not satisfactory..

Take Malaysia, for example, the place I am now. We've all heard about the canings, the crazy draconian drug laws, all of that. But the fact on the ground is that you almost never see any police, anywhere. When you do encounter them they seem to have the default attitude that you are OK, and best to just leave you be to get on with your day. They aren't all up in your bidness. In the States they seem omnipresent.
posted by Meatbomb at 1:27 AM on September 1, 2011 [14 favorites]


FUCK YEAH
posted by egypturnash at 1:30 AM on September 1, 2011


Vibrissae writes "There need to be official limits regarding safe distance for recording. "

Police were ticketing Glik. Seems like the "safe distance" in this case would be zero separation in what ever unit floats your boat.
posted by Mitheral at 1:37 AM on September 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


Truthfully, cops in the states go about with chips on their shoulders, and a gun to shoot the first person that knocks one off, or says it's ugly, or appears to make an ugly face about it, or perhaps maybe is thinking bad thoughts. Police procedures in America are designed to escalate situations. But the assumption there is always that any police target is armed to the teeth and ready to kill anyone.

Police address citizens in a way which is designed to dare challenge. The attitude suggests they wish to provoke, in order to create a criminal so they can do their job and arrest you. Never mind that everything was fine before the police became involved.

Good citizens must bend over backwards and not only kiss, but suck the asses of the police, or risk being shot dead, or worse, tasered and imprisoned forever, to be gang-raped continuously. THAT is what the American Way is all about, in 2011. What's worse, it isn't even self-interested corruption at work. It's habitual hostility between police and citizens, largely born out of the drug wars and all that has brought us.
posted by Goofyy at 1:39 AM on September 1, 2011 [24 favorites]


I have too many childhood memories of off-duty cops doing drugs in my dining room to trust the US police one minute. I've heard/witnessed how the bad apples in the force behave when they think no one is looking.
posted by _paegan_ at 2:46 AM on September 1, 2011 [5 favorites]


Don't worry folks, this will be derided in the popular media as "liberal activist northeastern judges trying to hobble our brave policemen" and it'll be reversed in a 5-4 USSC decision before long.

Unlikely. First, the First Circuit doesn't have a particularly liberal reputation. That'd be the Ninth.

Second, this one's just obvious. No one except the cops--and not even all of them!--ever really thought that this was a live issue. There hasn't really been any activism saying that citizens can't record police officers. This is just one of those weird things that some cops decided they didn't like, independent of any real policy decision or even any kind of social pressure in that direction.

It's kind of like the parks & rec or public transit peons that tell people they can't take pictures in certain areas. A lot of the time, no actual policy decision has been made to that effect; it's just some drone throwing their weight around.

So no, I really don't see this being controversial, and no, I don't see this getting a different result in different circuits or even reaching the Supreme Court, where it would likely be affirmed anyway.
posted by valkyryn at 3:18 AM on September 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


There need to be official limits regarding safe distance for recording.

No, there don't. The limit is "Don't be an idiot." You can get as close as you like, as long as you aren't interfering with the police. Adding laws upon laws doesn't help anyone.
posted by valkyryn at 3:20 AM on September 1, 2011 [7 favorites]


America, America, bo-merica,
Banana-fana fo-merica
Fee-fi-mo-merica
America!

*happy dance*

usually Fiji is my favorite country to do the Banana song to
posted by Smedleyman at 3:31 AM on September 1, 2011 [3 favorites]


Is there a Circuit split on this yet? I plan to do most of my police-recording in DC and MD, so I either need a 4th Circuit decision on this matter or a SCOTUS affirmation.
posted by anotherpanacea at 3:43 AM on September 1, 2011


Every time a case about this comes up (and even now), it just blows my mind. This is a THING? I mean, it's actually a QUESTION whether people should be allowed to record things that happen in public? We needed a circuit appeals court to rule on whether it's interfering with police business?
posted by specialagentwebb at 4:35 AM on September 1, 2011


Is there a Circuit split on this yet?

Nope. Matter of first impression.
posted by valkyryn at 4:47 AM on September 1, 2011


Every time a case about this comes up (and even now), it just blows my mind. This is a THING? I mean, it's actually a QUESTION whether people should be allowed to record things that happen in public? We needed a circuit appeals court to rule on whether it's interfering with police business?

Only kind of. There are police departments that would certainly like it to be a thing, but I can't remember a case where the judiciary has shown any willingness to go along with it, and I don't think any legislature has ever passed a law banning it.
posted by valkyryn at 4:49 AM on September 1, 2011


Wow, some really good news for a change. Fantastic!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:24 AM on September 1, 2011


Don't get excited, I'm sure the Robert Court will be along shortly to set this to right. Nothing hinders the Security State for long.
posted by T.D. Strange at 5:27 AM on September 1, 2011


off to class, but:

this is pretty dang cool. but I wonder how long it will take for the culture to change so as there actually be repercussions to the cops who smash or steal your damn camera/phone.

anyway, support your local Cop Watch.
posted by circle_b at 5:27 AM on September 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


> No, there don't. The limit is "Don't be an idiot." You can get as close as you like, as long as you aren't interfering with the police. Adding laws upon laws doesn't help anyone.

I agree that having an additional law is probably excessive, but the definition of "interfering with the police" is subjective enough to be abused. Recently in Pittsburgh, a number of protesters were arrested, including one who was just filming the arrests. Obviously, the cop warned him to keep moving, and he was standing really close to the cops, but how far away would have been acceptable? Can a cop just tell everyone with cameras to "keep moving, stop obstructing traffic" instead of "stop filming"?

Not that there won't always be loopholes, and not that the Court of Appeals decision isn't a great win already.
posted by isnotchicago at 5:46 AM on September 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


Truthfully, cops in the states go about with chips on their shoulders, and a gun to shoot the first person that knocks one off, or says it's ugly, or appears to make an ugly face about it, or perhaps maybe is thinking bad thoughts. Police procedures in America are designed to escalate situations. But the assumption there is always that any police target is armed to the teeth and ready to kill anyone.

Do you honestly believe this? Life is not a comic book based on movies and the bad stories that make it into TV. How many people do you think are shot by the police annually here? And which procedures are written down that "escalate situations"? I actually live in the US; I've lived in one town (Portsmouth, RI) where the police force was completely corrupt and you know what? They made the mistake of screwing up outside of town and the state police and cops next door fixed their wagon. On the whole, the system seems to work ok.

I appreciate the perception that policing has gotten worse in the last 50 years, but some of that is due to the fact more things get reported on. And some of it is out of necessity where the social fabric has become frayed. I am no fan of the police and am cheering this ruling, but posts like yours are what makes me hate this site. What you wrote is armchair bullshit that's completely divorced from reality, but we all have to sit here and pretend like your opinion should be listened to for politeness' sake and because there's this general spirit that we're all on the same side. My side is the bright side of the moon, where you can at least see reality. Enjoy your paranoid fantasy world where everyone is out to get you.
posted by yerfatma at 5:56 AM on September 1, 2011 [9 favorites]


Yeah this seems like a total non-issue to me. Can anyone show me an actual statute or rule that's on the books anywhere in the U.S. that criminalizes or otherwise prohibits people from filming cops? I'm not saying it's not the case, but certainly in New York the police generally know they have to let you record them. Even in this particular case, the plaintiff didn't commit a crime; the charges were dismissed. It's just some asshole cops who made up a law and arrested him under it. That has never been constitutional, as far as I know, so I wouldn't put too much faith in the ability of a court opinion to make cops stop acting that way.
posted by dixiecupdrinking at 5:58 AM on September 1, 2011


the definition of "interfering with the police" is subjective enough to be abused.

Probably, but that may be just a price we have to deal with. The risk of giving someone discretion is that they might actually use it. The alternative seems to be a rigid, mechanistic system which would probably wind up ensnaring more people than even an abusive cop would normally nab.

Can a cop just tell everyone with cameras to "keep moving, stop obstructing traffic" instead of "stop filming"?

Maybe. But the courts are pretty good about noticing when the cops are using a transparent dodge like that. It's going to come down to a question of proof. If all the people with cameras, and only them, were told to move on, the courts would probably see through that ruse and sanction the department. But if the cops are moving everyone along, and some of them just happen to have cameras, that's a neutral time/place/manner restriction which would probably be upheld.
posted by valkyryn at 6:00 AM on September 1, 2011


This is a great first step, but what about police abuse which occurs in a private home? I am not sure this ruling would apply, although logically that seems public enough for the home owner or resident to record openly. If we just focus on the notice aspect then anytime the officer is made aware of the filming then that should suffice. Anyway, if only the police can record the citizens while the citizens cannot record the police, isn't that a police state? (I think someone else asked this on MeFi the last time this issue came up.)
posted by caddis at 6:00 AM on September 1, 2011


Can anyone show me an actual statute or rule that's on the books anywhere in the U.S. that criminalizes or otherwise prohibits people from filming cops?

Talk to the DAs in any number of states in the US. They seem to be actively searching for them and torturing rulings into saying this whenever possible. This ruling definitely matters.
posted by yerfatma at 6:00 AM on September 1, 2011


Truthfully, cops in the states go about with chips on their shoulders, and a gun to shoot the first person that knocks one off, or says it's ugly, or appears to make an ugly face about it, or perhaps maybe is thinking bad thoughts. Police procedures in America are designed to escalate situations. But the assumption there is always that any police target is armed to the teeth and ready to kill anyone.

Do you honestly believe this?


Yes. Yes they do.

The real problem is the all-or-nothing thinking. When they use the word "cops" they mean all cops. The kind of language they use says "every single police officer." I can't know of their thoughts on the matter, but the language univerally applies these things.

Amongst other things I represent law enforcement officers on an individual basis in civil, criminal and administrative fora. I've got personal experience with more police misconduct than most. I assure you, there are police officers who do engage in bad practices--with some violating laws. But the vast majority in my experience are people who are doing something that most people dislike--enforcing the laws that their representatives pass.

There is a huge spectrum of individuals out there. But Americans never let the truth get in the way of a stereotype, do they?
posted by Ironmouth at 6:05 AM on September 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


I've lived in the UK, the US and Canada. American cops are notably more aggressive and belligerent to people on the streets than UK cops. Sadly, the Toronto police force is conciously importing American training models - and our police are now more belligerent than they were previously.
posted by jb at 6:11 AM on September 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


Yeah, I don't think Americans understand how pervasive the police presence is in their lives. I live in a college town in the U.S. and I can pretty much guarantee that I'll see police officers every day, probably several of them. In my home country, it felt more like once a month, if that.
posted by idb at 6:20 AM on September 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I don't think Americans understand how pervasive the police presence is in their lives.

And I don't think you understand the concept of confirmation bias.

I see several dozen cops every day, but that's only because I can see the county courthouse and jail from my office. Other than that, I hardly ever see them. But I don't think that gives me cause to conclude that the Allen County Police Department isn't out there on the beat any more than it gives you cause to conclude that "Americans [don't] understand how pervasive the police presence is in their lives".
posted by valkyryn at 6:28 AM on September 1, 2011 [3 favorites]


there are police officers who do engage in bad practices--with some violating laws.

And the police officers who have knowledge of their violations of law are ALSO GUILTY.

That's the real thing here. It's true, as you say that there is a huge spectrum of individuals, but police officers have an extraordinary responsibility to ensure that their own ranks are clean, because of the extraordinary authority they can potentially abuse.

If the So-Called-Good-Cops want to be considered "Good Cops", they need to get the "Bad Cops" off the force immediately, using whatever means are required.

Once they clean up their own house, then maybe we can start trusting them.
posted by mikelieman at 6:38 AM on September 1, 2011 [6 favorites]


Take Malaysia, for example, the place I am now. We've all heard about the canings, the crazy draconian drug laws, all of that. But the fact on the ground is that you almost never see any police, anywhere. When you do encounter them they seem to have the default attitude that you are OK, and best to just leave you be to get on with your day.

So you're saying the police in Malaysia don't hassle white guys. This doesn't surprise me very much.
posted by Etrigan at 6:38 AM on September 1, 2011 [3 favorites]


> And I don't think you understand the concept of confirmation bias.

Not necessarily, I see the police pretty often, mostly riding around in their cars. Sometimes they pull somebody over. They hang around the convenience store in the evening (to prevent robberies I guess). I think that's pretty normal in the US. If idb's from somewhere where they don't patrol much, that would seem unusual.
posted by nangar at 6:50 AM on September 1, 2011


If the cops aren't doing anything wrong, they've got nothing to be afraid of. I'm sure they'll find that argument both familiar and convincing.
posted by elektrotechnicus at 7:02 AM on September 1, 2011 [5 favorites]


I've lived in the UK, the US and Canada. American cops are notably more aggressive and belligerent to people on the streets than UK cops.

I've seen people here in Japan (with a great deal of frequency over the years) scream and shout at cops, get really belligerent, even somewhat physically threatening: all the kinds of things that, in the US, would have you on your face on the pavement with cuffs on in about 3 point 1 seconds. But police here at least seem to understand that sometimes people need to blow off steam, or are too drunk to really know what they are doing, and so forth. And the cops very often do not let that sort of behavior immediately mean that the belligerent/drunk/angry person is immediately gonna get manhandled, thrown down, busted, etc. I've seen many, many such altercations end with the "suspect" walking. And I do think, most definitely, that the widely pervasive attitude of US police that the slightest display of hostility or anger is grounds for roughing you up and running you in is, well, a big problem.

And before anyone jumps all over me with horror stories of police abuses in Japan, yes, I know they exist. And I know that the cops can hold suspects for shockingly long periods of time (2 weeks and even longer) without charges, and so forth. But the point I'm making about Japanese police tolerance of a certain (often very natural) amount of anger is something that US police would do well to emulate.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 7:08 AM on September 1, 2011 [4 favorites]


As an Australian who's spent some time in the States, your cops scare me. They seem much, much more adversarial in their interactions with the general populous, and much more prone to escalating conflicts.

I would never be scared of a traffic stop in my home country, but in the States I would be petrified. Your incarceration rates imply to me that there is something deeply wrong with the way the law interacts with the citizenry over there, I just can't believe Americans are *that* much more criminal than the rest of the world (More criminal than Australians even!).
posted by Proofs and Refutations at 7:10 AM on September 1, 2011 [4 favorites]


When I saw the decision, this case immediately came to mind.
posted by rollbiz at 7:18 AM on September 1, 2011


So you're saying the police in Malaysia don't hassle white guys. This doesn't surprise me very much.

I could tell you very similar stories about Poland and Central Asia. In general, not-US police don't seem to be out looking for trouble, and making trouble where there is none.

And out on the highway here, the police pull over into the shoulder to let me pass them while I am going 10km/h over the speed limit.
posted by Meatbomb at 8:14 AM on September 1, 2011


flapjax and Proofs, I really think you're misattributing a little bit. I don't think the problem is so much "cops in America" as "Americans who are cops".

For example, regarding what flapjax said about people screaming and shouting and being physically threatening toward Japanese police: He remarks that "police here at least seem to understand that sometimes people [are assholes]", but that's not a police thing. That's a person thing. That's a Japanese person being calm in the face of some other person being unreasonable. The fact that one of those people is a cop is incidental.

What I'm saying is that if you get belligerent and shout and physically threaten any random American, there is a very significant chance that you're going to be put on your ass with what is likely unreasonable force. (Honestly, based on my anecdotal experience, a cop here is far less likely to jump you for being douchey than a stranger on the street, which is as it should be.) I think there's a significant cultural difference in the way human beings treat each other in America versus other places (especially Japan), and we have to remember that under that uniform is just some guy who likely holds the prevailing cultural attitudes.

Americans are really mean to each other, frequently in a way that is completely out of line with the situation. I can't see how putting a police uniform would suddenly take that out of you.

(DISCLAIMER: I've always lived in large metropolitan areas. These observations may not hold true for smaller towns, etc.)
posted by IAmUnaware at 8:16 AM on September 1, 2011 [4 favorites]


That's "putting ON a police uniform" at the end there, obviously.

Damn lack of an edit function.
posted by IAmUnaware at 8:19 AM on September 1, 2011


He filed an internal affairs complaint with the Boston Police Department, but the BPD neither investigated the complaint nor initiated any disciplinary action.
This is exactly the kind of thing that I find infuriating; how can the average citizen ever hope to see justice when mistreated when the very mechanism designed to investigate allegations of misconduct simply ignores the complaint?

On the whole, I think that the police are a force for good, but it really seems that over the last decade or two, there has developed a strong sense of us-versus-them on both sides. And with the amount of resources poured into law enforcement agencies in the last ten years, that stand-off attitude has manifested more and more as a military occupation in some places, with all the above-the-law agency that sort of environment seems to foster.

It bothers me to say this, because I've had so many friends in various law enforcement branches over the years, and I hate to cast them in as a part of the problem, but at this point, I think that close monitoring by the public is the only thing that will ever create any kind of balance again.

I very much hope that this ruling puts us on that path.
posted by quin at 8:35 AM on September 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


Policing in the US started going seriously off the tracks when SWAT teams and the whole paramilitary mind-set came into vogue. Then, once the practice of police officers training side-by-side with US military personnel at US military facilities became a standard practice, things definitely made a hard turn for the worse.
posted by Thorzdad at 8:36 AM on September 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


Truthfully, cops in the states go about with chips on their shoulders, and a gun to shoot the first person that knocks one off, or says it's ugly, or appears to make an ugly face about it, or perhaps maybe is thinking bad thoughts

As near as I can tell, American police kill about 200 people a year (it appears hard to get exact numbers). There are something like 800,000 police officers in America. I guess a lot of them are lousy shots.
posted by Bookhouse at 8:43 AM on September 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


Yeah, I think lousy shots about sums it up.

Police said Johnston fired at them and they fired in response; she fired one shot out the door over the officers' heads and they fired 39 shots, five or six of which hit her. None of the officers were injured by her gunfire, but Johnston was killed by the officers. Police injuries were later attributed to "friendly fire" from each others' weapons.

But no, I don't think American police generally walk around looking to shoot people. I do think a lot of bad shit gets ignored and goes unreported by the "good cops" though.
posted by ODiV at 9:00 AM on September 1, 2011


Don't sweat the Supreme Court ruling on this. All you have to do is incorporate yourself, and *bam* instant rights. /justkiddingnotreally
posted by Xoebe at 9:02 AM on September 1, 2011


I would imagine that the biggest complaint isn't the number of people being shot, but those being capriciously tazed, arrested without cause, and harassed. All of which are high impact to the person on the receiving end, but generally low enough priority to not get the officers into any real trouble.
posted by quin at 9:03 AM on September 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


Oh yeah, and while we are on the subject of cops...one of my best friends is a reserve deputy, has been for twenty years. He's a good guy, can be a real asshole when he wants, but he's not the type to knock heads for no reason.

One of his favorite TV shows? Reno 911. He told me once that the writers had to have been cops. Now there's a thought.
posted by Xoebe at 9:05 AM on September 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


Don't worry folks, this will be derided in the popular media as "liberal activist northeastern judges trying to hobble our brave policemen" and it'll be reversed in a 5-4 USSC decision before long.

Yes, probably. That said, I am the only one who has started to notice an emerging hostility to the police from the tea party/junior-high libertarian right-wing these days? The rhetoric usually hinges on the argument that the police are public employees, and all public services and employees are enemies of Teh Freedom in the first place, therefore the existence of police is un-American.

A second strain carries it to its logical (cough) conclusion that the police are ultimately under the control of Obama (being president evidently puts you directly in charge of all federal, state, county, and local governments, services, and employees; who knew?), and since Obama is Hitler, the police are the Gestapo.
posted by scody at 9:07 AM on September 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


What if we just forced all cops to smoke weed

I mean that would solve like 90% of the problem
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 9:22 AM on September 1, 2011


That said, I am the only one who has started to notice an emerging hostility to the police from the tea party/junior-high libertarian right-wing these days?

I don't know about "emerging," depending on how you define your terms there. I'd say there's always been antipathy towards the cops on the libertarian right, and the Tea Party types become more anti-police when a Democrat is in charge.
posted by Bookhouse at 9:34 AM on September 1, 2011


One thing to remember that this decision does not prevent the police from arresting you for filming. You'll still go through processing and have to appear in court. Remember that no one has rights until a judge or jury gives them to you.
posted by Gungho at 9:34 AM on September 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


Can anyone show me an actual statute or rule that's on the books anywhere in the U.S. that criminalizes or otherwise prohibits people from filming cops?

At issue in the Illinois case is the eavesdropping law, which states that:
"A person commits eavesdropping when he:
(1) Knowingly and intentionally uses an eavesdropping device for the purpose of hearing or recording all or any part of any conversation or intercepts, retains, or transcribes electronic communication unless he does so (A) with the consent of all of the parties to such conversation or electronic communication" among other things.

Prosecutors are apparently claiming that because the police officers did not give their consent to be recorded, it was eavesdropping; the fact that an individual being recorded might be a public official in discharge of their official duties in a public area seems not to matter in their view. This in contrast to the fact that police frequently record their own activities (dash cams). The statute does specify that police officers can also be eavesdroppers if they're recording someone without an "order of interception."

So in that case, no, it's not that the statute prohibits filming cops, but that's the way that prosecutors have argued that the statute should be interpreted.
posted by nickmark at 9:38 AM on September 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


Part of it is also that Americans tend to be disproportionately armed compared to the rest of the world. If at any moment during a regular traffic stop, some random dude could just start shooting at me, I'd be a lot more jumpy around aggressive and drunk folks too.
posted by klangklangston at 9:54 AM on September 1, 2011


Excellent opinion by my favorite judge named Kermit.
posted by chinston at 9:59 AM on September 1, 2011


So in that case, no, it's not that the statute prohibits filming cops, but that's the way that prosecutors have argued that the statute should be interpreted.

Exactly. And the courts aren't stupid; they can generally tell pretty quickly when a prosecutor is trying to use a law for something other than its obvious purpose, and they tend not to view such stunts very kindly.
posted by valkyryn at 10:33 AM on September 1, 2011


His thoughts were red thoughts: "Basically they create binding interpretations of federal law, but they are only binding on the states within the circuit.

Wow. That is completely crazypants. You have inconsistent interpretation and application of Federal law in different areas.
"

That is a feature, not a bug. It can be difficult to figure out what exactly a statue says. If the 1st Circuit and the 5th Circuit produces different rulings, it means that there is ambiguity. The USSC gets to make the final (at least until another case reaches the USSC or Congress changes the law) ruling.

Laws don't mean what the people enforcing the laws say they mean, necessarily. Having a process to work out what the Constitution and what federal laws really mean is pretty nifty.

Wikipedia is actually pretty good on the US Federal Courts.
posted by QIbHom at 11:06 AM on September 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


Policing in the US started going seriously off the tracks when SWAT teams and the whole paramilitary mind-set came into vogue.

SWAT Team Honored For Raiding Wrong House
posted by homunculus at 11:08 AM on September 1, 2011


Serve and Protect: The dangers of our increasingly militarized police
posted by homunculus at 11:12 AM on September 1, 2011


In other law enforcement news: Steven Seagal accused of killing a puppy and hundreds of chickens
posted by homunculus at 11:14 AM on September 1, 2011


That said, I am the only one who has started to notice an emerging hostility to the police from the tea party/junior-high libertarian right-wing these days?

Yeah not really new. The far right has always been very critical of the police, although I'd say their suspicion tends to be more focused on the Federal agencies than the ones at the local levels. Google "Ruby Ridge" if you want to read some of it.

What you might be perceiving is a mainstreaming of what were previously fringe viewpoints, as the national political dialog has shifted rightwards in some respects. I didn't know very many self-described Libertarians fifteen years ago; I know a lot today. (Although I know fewer self-described Republicans, so perhaps this is due to the Republican party starting to fracture and the more secular ex-Republicans who aren't ready to join the other team finding something else to describe themselves as.)
posted by Kadin2048 at 11:24 AM on September 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


What you might be perceiving is a mainstreaming of what were previously fringe viewpoints, as the national political dialog has shifted rightwards in some respects.

That makes sense. Till recently, I'd only ever heard right-wing FUCK THA POLICE rhetoric from a former friend who had slid into White Christian Patriot/Minuteman/neo-nazi sympathies several years ago, but in the past 6 months or so it seems to have been cropping up all over the place.
posted by scody at 11:29 AM on September 1, 2011


(Which, besides its basic logical insanity, is weird because it runs so counter to the near-monolithic Republicans Are the Party of Law and Order that's been the prevailing narrative for so long. So yeah, I think part of it is also a reflection of the fracturing of the GOP as well.)
posted by scody at 11:41 AM on September 1, 2011


I just want to point out that I also have personal observations and anecdotes about cops that I give a tremendous, overriding amount of weight to.
posted by mreleganza at 11:44 AM on September 1, 2011


Huh? What should guide you if not personal experience? It's how we are set up to learn and adapt.
posted by Meatbomb at 12:24 PM on September 1, 2011


Do you honestly believe this? Life is not a comic book based on movies and the bad stories that make it into TV.

Word. There are plenty of bad cops, and I've run into a few who liked to throw their weight around, but my last interaction with a police officer was the Ohio highway patrolman who not only parked his cruiser behind my car to help prevent me getting hit as I changed a tire, but also helped me do it. I don't know anything else about him -- he could have been a prince among men, corrupt to the bone or just another working stiff making it htrough the day -- but he was nothing but a polite and professional public servant as far as I'm concerned.
posted by Gelatin at 12:30 PM on September 1, 2011


Huh? What should guide you if not personal experience? It's how we are set up to learn and adapt.

How about data? More to the point, seeing group A say, "My experiences with American cops have been outstanding!" while group B says, "My experiences have been terrible!" does not make the most compelling mefi discussion.
posted by mreleganza at 12:37 PM on September 1, 2011


Not all cops are good/bad. The problem is the bad ones stick out. I've had positive and negative (more negative to be honest) but I do know they have some stressful and at times fucked up people to deal with.

My issue is I've known personally police officers. My uncle was one, and I couldn't believe the shit he has claimed to do. Bragging about beating a man to the point of hospitalizing him, naming his maglite his" nig_er beater" and participating in some shady shit (this is Detroit we are talking about, not surprisingly).
Other cops I know also seem to have some prejudice and racist views. I am not sure how one can uphold the law while demonizing a group of people based on race, socio-economic status or age.

Its really kind of depressing. I am always polite to police, and respectful. Its helped me on numerous occassions when in reality I probably could have been cuffed (being a stoner, I am always taking precautions).
posted by handbanana at 1:17 PM on September 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


How about data? More to the point, seeing group A say, "My experiences with American cops have been outstanding!" while group B says, "My experiences have been terrible!" does not make the most compelling mefi discussion.

My confirmation bias notes that group B are the only ones consistently saying "I have lived in other countries", while group A's main argument seems to be "Actual experience doesn't matter."
posted by -harlequin- at 3:19 PM on September 1, 2011 [3 favorites]


I, an American, have been living in Japan, and I'll just say that it took a while to get used to the fairly visible police presence, because it turns out that 99% of the time they are actually trying to act in your best interests, a concept that was as foreign to me as driving on the left side of the road.

Take that as you will.
posted by DoctorFedora at 4:05 PM on September 1, 2011


Huh? What should guide you if not personal experience? It's how we are set up to learn and adapt.
posted by Meatbomb at 12:24 PM on September 1 [+] [!]


Yeah, they're all the same, amiright?
posted by gjc at 5:31 PM on September 1, 2011



Wow. That is completely crazypants. You have inconsistent interpretation and application of Federal law in different areas.

That is a feature, not a bug. It can be difficult to figure out what exactly a statue says. If the 1st Circuit and the 5th Circuit produces different rulings, it means that there is ambiguity. The USSC gets to make the final (at least until another case reaches the USSC or Congress changes the law) ruling.


Oh, don't mind me. Just a bit of legal culture shock. I think that this is on par with how non-US folk find the electoral college system bizarre.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 5:47 PM on September 1, 2011


I disagree with a lot of things that the Roberts Court has done, but if you think this would break along standard 5-4 ideological lines you're wrong. Scalia, who no one would accuse of being pro-defendant, has authored quite a few opinions limiting police powers -- off the top of my head, he wrote the decision holding that police couldn't use infrared scanners to look into people's houses without a warrant. Clarence Thomas, meanwhile, is damn near a First Amendment absolutist. Especially given the way the First Circuit has framed its decision -- i.e. the filming is free speech about government officials in the public sphere -- the "originalists" on the SCOTUS would likely be some of the surest votes against the police here.
posted by ScotchRox at 6:22 PM on September 1, 2011


Good citizens must bend over backwards and not only kiss, but suck the asses of the police, or risk being shot dead, or worse, tasered and imprisoned forever, to be gang-raped continuously. THAT is what the American Way is all about, in 2011.

What.

The.

Fuck?
posted by uncanny hengeman at 7:37 PM on September 1, 2011


Take Malaysia, for example, the place I am now. We've all heard about the canings, the crazy draconian drug laws, all of that. But the fact on the ground is that you almost never see any police, anywhere. When you do encounter them they seem to have the default attitude that you are OK, and best to just leave you be to get on with your day. They aren't all up in your bidness.

I was in Malaysia just the other day. I was playing in the water playground in the huge park under the Petronius Towers and got drenched. Nice sunny day so I took my shirt off and hung it over a chair to dry out "TWEET! TWEET! TWEET!" a pair of policewomen are up in my bidness, one of them blowing a farking whistle, do you believe it?

I couldn't have cried religious persecution! I could have cried raaaaacism! I could have made a really big scene like a minority would in the USA. But I gave an apologetic wave and put my wet shirt back on.

I was in the USA for a much much longer time and not once did The Man get up in my bidness.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 7:52 PM on September 1, 2011


Petronas Towers.

Microsoft Word spellcheck.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 7:56 PM on September 1, 2011


I could have made a really big scene like a minority would in the USA.

OK, this one truly merits a WTF.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 7:57 PM on September 1, 2011 [3 favorites]


No, that was trolling. Well spotted, sir.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 7:58 PM on September 1, 2011


No, that was trolling

Well, then, you should be right proud of yourself, then! You're really good at this trolling "bidness".

However, hearing you define it as such in no way makes me reconsider my earlier comment. So here it is again:

WTF.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:13 PM on September 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


However, hearing you define it as such in no way makes me reconsider my earlier comment. So here it is again:

WTF.


Cool your Japanese jets there, tough guy.

If a white cop in America got up in a Muslim's face, tooting on a farking whistle, saying "the Christian faith of my rulers demands that you dress how we tell you to dress!" Do you think that would fly?

So for starters, "WTF?" indeed.

Secondly, no "WTF?" for Goofyy? The most idiotic comment in the history of Metafilter. Seriously? But a "WTF?" for me?
posted by uncanny hengeman at 8:39 PM on September 1, 2011


Cool your Japanese jets there, tough guy.

I'm not actually all that tough. I do have certain principles, however, that won't allow me to leave comments such as yours unaddressed.

If a white cop in America got up in a Muslim's face, tooting on a farking whistle, saying "the Christian faith of my rulers demands that you dress how we tell you to dress!" Do you think that would fly?

Not every country is like America nor should it be expected to be. When in Malaysia, for example, one would do well to remember that cultural norms and practices (informed, yes, by religion, for example) are different from those in America. Or, say, from those in Switzerland. Or Swaziland. But this discussion isn't about comparing one nation's sets of laws, standards, norms, religious practices, race relations etc against another's. The discussion that you joined here was about the relative aggressiveness and violence of police from one country to another. Your taking some hypothetical example of white cops versus Muslims in America has nothing, nada, zip to do with the discussion. Until you strolled in with your lame Ebonics ("bidness") and racial/religious references, we were discussing police and how they treat people. Why you felt compelled to turn the discussion toward race and religious culture is something that, well, only you know, I suppose. Perhaps you have some issues in regards to these topics. The nature of your comment suggests that you do, and you'd perhaps be well advised to give some deeper contemplation to these matters.

Secondly, no "WTF?" for Goofyy? The most idiotic comment in the history of Metafilter. Seriously? But a "WTF?" for me?

I have no idea why you'd be concerned about my interaction or lack of interaction with another participant in this thread, and why that would have any bearing on my interaction with you, but, since you brought it up, sure I'll address that. I thought that, aside from perhaps erring ever so slightly into hyperbole, Goofyy's comment was spot on. I essentially agree with what he said. I favorited it, actually, along with many other people here. So, that would explain, you see, why it didn't get a WTF from me.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 9:26 PM on September 1, 2011 [3 favorites]


>I have no idea why you'd be concerned about my interaction or lack of interaction with another participant in this thread, and why that would have any bearing on my interaction with you,

Very cute. "OK, this one truly merits a WTF." This was a direct response to my comment to Goofyy. So I guess the lesson for you, flapjax, is don't get up in my bidness if you don't want to be asked to explain your silly little comments.

>but, since you brought it up, sure I'll address that. I thought that, aside from perhaps erring ever so slightly into hyperbole, Goofyy's comment was spot on.

Music to my ears. Just to recap what is a "spot on comment" in your mind:
Good citizens must bend over backwards and not only kiss, but suck the asses of the police, or risk being shot dead, or worse, tasered and imprisoned forever, to be gang-raped continuously. THAT is what the American Way is all about, in 2011.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 11:36 PM on September 1, 2011


Music to my ears.

Well, I'm a musician, after all! Glad I could provide you with some enjoyment, there, pal! And, hey, thanks for the recap on Goofyy's comment, although it wasn't necessary. I read it just fine the first time around, as I imagine everyone else did, as well.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 12:56 AM on September 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


I like to recap.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 1:02 AM on September 2, 2011


Uncanny hengeman, I'm almost sorry (not really) you find my comment so stupid. I'd assure you I feel the same about yours, except that would be against Metafilter guidelines. You have read those, I assume?

Of course I engaged some hyperbole. Like, you never would do such a thing?

yerfatma: Why yes, I do believe what I wrote. You actually LIVE in the USA? Wow! Thanks for the condescension. I was born and raised there. I've lived in more states than most ever visit. But I've also lived abroad for the last 14 years. I've dealt with cops in a variety of places. I usually manage to get along well with them. And I still believe what I've said. It's a shame your certitude is so set in concrete that you can't consider the validity of a conflicting opinion.

It's not that every cop you encounter is out to get you. That wouldn't fly. And it's not at all that there is no validity to the assumption that everyone is well armed and ready to shoot. I don't like cops getting killed. There is a situation, however, of mutual disrespect. If you can't see that, I suggest you pull your head out of your ass, and stop being part of the problem.

Hell, some of the problems aren't even really the fault of the police, rather, the fault of the way the law works. You can't deal with the police like fellow human beings. They are allowed to lie to you, and anything you say can be twisted around to suit their job requirement to make busts. It's become a mutually antagonistic situation as soon as you have to deal with police. The cops and the citizens are no longer really allowed to be working together for the mutual goal of apprehending perps. Ask any lawyer. Or is asking an educated expert beyond reason?

People are getting arrested for filming police in public, but cops don't disrespect the citizens? Prosecuting attorney/s prosecute this alleged crime. Cops break into houses without warning, then kill the family dog, before discovering they are in the home of law-abiding citizens. WTF? But OH NO! The cops RESPECT the citizens!

See, you are absolutely correct, that I am completely wrong. But only if you ignore the facts.
posted by Goofyy at 2:47 AM on September 2, 2011 [3 favorites]


I could have made a really big scene like a minority would in the USA.

Did you mean minority in "a race that is considered a minority in the USA" or did you mean minority as in "a random group of people who wouldn't treat this situation as the majority would?"
posted by mreleganza at 6:55 AM on September 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's not data, but it was amazing video that sort of highlights one of the differences:
A guy went on a rampage in a tank (Well, technically I think I was an APC) but the point is, there ain't nothing the police have that can touch it. It can drive through a truck, so they can't even roadblock it.

They couldn't do anything but hold back and watch. Eventually, he got the APC momentarily stuck, and they were able to get a man on its roof, get the hatch open and kill the guy within seconds.

Exactly the same thing has also happened in another first-world country, and the police were in exactly the same predicament. But they went the extra mile and succeeded in arrested him, alive.

If you're an American, then you've grown up with an understanding of what police are and what police should be, that says there's nothing wrong with what the US cops did, it was practical and efficient, and got the job done as they saw it, with minimal risk to the officers and to the public. And I go along with that. It's just that the other country's cops were heroic in comparison to that standard. And to people in countries with police forces like that, that very different standard is the understanding that they grew up with, of what police should be. Not exceptional, just the norm.

The anecdote doesn't prove the different MO of the US police force, it's merely an interesting illustration of it.
posted by -harlequin- at 2:44 PM on September 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Good citizens must bend over backwards and not only kiss, but suck the asses of the police, or risk being shot dead, or worse, tasered and imprisoned forever, to be gang-raped continuously. THAT is what the American Way is all about, in 2011. endlessly hassled as the policeman tries to figure out some way to make you pay for your momentary lack of subservience.

Less hyperbole, more common reality. If you don't think the police vengefully and pettily try to extract subservience even if you are doing nothing wrong, then you have either never met them in an adversarial situation or are very rich and very white.
posted by umberto at 7:59 AM on September 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


you have either never met them in an adversarial situation or are very rich and very white

You sound like a racist. Here's something a "very white" person wouldn't dare try in any number of countries [you only need to watch 0:22 - 0:31 to get the idea]. Only a minority in an awesome country like Australia or the USA could pull off this kind of crap.

Happy ending BTW. She got cleared on appeal. Something about her wearing a black sheet on her head the whole time she was on video... and the rules of her minority religion saying that she has to have a black sheet on her head for her driver's licence ID... and so nobody knew who was who or who signed what stat dec.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 5:21 AM on September 5, 2011


What Good Is a Legal Right to Record Police Activity - If the Cops Target You When You Do It?
posted by homunculus at 4:27 PM on September 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oral Arguments in ACLU Challenge to Illinois Wiretapping Law
posted by homunculus at 8:02 PM on September 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Illinois Judge Dismisses Charges Against Michael Allison
posted by homunculus at 11:56 AM on September 19, 2011


“Your constitutional rights have nothing to do with the law.”
posted by homunculus at 11:58 AM on September 19, 2011


What will happen to the police officers in these two cases?
posted by homunculus at 12:03 PM on September 19, 2011


Cops Vs. Cameras: The Killing of Kelly Thomas & The Power of New Media
posted by homunculus at 3:13 PM on September 21, 2011


Thanks. I spent a bit of time reading about that last one, which had gone under my radar.
After encountering Thomas at the bus depot, Ramos swung his baton at Thomas, but it was unclear whether he struck him, the DA said. The officer then chased Thomas, tackled him and punched him in the ribs, Rackauckas added.

Cicinelli arrived later and kneed Thomas twice in the head, according to the DA. He used a stun gun four times on Thomas and struck him in the face eight times with the stun gun, Rackauckas said.

Thomas tried to defend himself and cried out several times -- at one point, he screamed for his father -- during the altercation, Rackauckas said.

"His numerous pleas of 'I'm sorry,' 'I can't breathe,' 'Help, Dad' were all to no avail..."
Charming.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 6:56 PM on September 21, 2011


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