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Cops get privacy on a public street?
July 27, 2010 5:01 AM   Subscribe

The ACLU of Maryland is defending Anthony Graber for violating Maryland wiretap laws because he recorded a video of a plain clothes officer drawing a gun during a traffic stop without first identifying himself as a police officer. The Maryland State Police raided Graber's parents' after learning of the video on YouTube. Another person has since been similarly charged under the same statute.

The wiretap law being used to charge Anthony Graber was intended to protect private communication between two parties. The ACLU attorney handling Mr. Graber's case said 'To charge Graber with violating the law, you would have to conclude that a police officer on a public road, wearing a badge and a uniform, performing his official duty, pulling someone over, somehow has a right to privacy when it comes to the conversation he has with the motorist.'
posted by jeffburdges (141 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite

 
Such a clear attempt to make sure that no one but the police gets to videotape the police. I can understand why officials would want to do this, especially after Rodney King and the BART killing, but it's a complete violation of the First Amendment. There's nothing private about an officer's official interaction with a citizen.
posted by inturnaround at 5:05 AM on July 27, 2010 [15 favorites]


inturnaround: "Such a clear attempt to make sure that no one but the police gets to videotape the police. I can understand why officials would want to do this, especially after Rodney King and the BART killing, but it's a complete violation of the First Amendment. There's nothing private about an officer's official interaction with a citizen."

Its about police not wanting to be held accountable. Its what happens when you are given unchecked power.
posted by MrLint at 5:07 AM on July 27, 2010 [9 favorites]


There's nothing private about an officer's official interaction with a citizen.

Well, we'll see what John Roberts has to say about that .....
posted by blucevalo at 5:08 AM on July 27, 2010 [15 favorites]


Carlos Miller's Photography is Not a Crime has been banging this drum for a while.
posted by ghharr at 5:10 AM on July 27, 2010 [4 favorites]


I can understand why officials would want to do this, especially after Rodney King and the BART killing, but it's a complete violation of the First Amendment.

Not to mention that King and BART both prove it needs to be done.

I was completely flabbergasted recently to learn that this is banned in MA too. Audio only, though, for some reason. So I guess a webcam would be legal.
posted by DU at 5:11 AM on July 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


Its about police government not wanting to be held accountable. Its what happens when you are given unchecked power.

FTFY.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 5:16 AM on July 27, 2010


Here in Louisiana, and in many other states, the situation is just the opposite; it is explicitly legal to record any conversation as long as one party in the conversation is aware of the recording. Who wanted it this way? The police, to facilitate the use of evidence from wire-wearing informants.
posted by localroger at 5:19 AM on July 27, 2010 [3 favorites]


If that happened to me, I'd assume I was about to get jumped for my motorbike.
posted by 13twelve at 5:22 AM on July 27, 2010 [4 favorites]


I doubt the law was originally designed to aid the police per se, but perhaps the subtext was that federal officials living in Maryland could talk more securely with lobbyists, also very bad.
posted by jeffburdges at 5:30 AM on July 27, 2010


I would like to hear more about the warrant the cops got to raid Graber's parents' house.
posted by shakespeherian at 5:34 AM on July 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


If that happened to me, I'd assume I was about to get jumped for my motorbike.

Back the tape up a bit.

The Washington Post has some more information: Graber, who'd been observed popping a wheelie while speeding, was cited for doing 80 in a 65 mph zone. Graber accepted his ticket, which he says he deserved.

First, I'm glad he got busted. I hate sharing the streets with dipshits like that. After pulling a stunt like that in traffic, he might have expected that the cop looking dude holding a gun and waving at him to stop was probably a cop.

"The question is: Is a police officer permitted to have a private conversation as part of their duty in responding to calls, or is everything a police officer does subject to being audio recorded?" Cassilly said.

Cassilly thinks officers should be able to consider their on-duty conversations to be private. Other officers share that view and have issued warnings to documentarians.


Man, I'm sort of split on this one. What do they mean by private? Private only in the sense of the wiretap law, or private in the sense of off-the-record. Every kid that has had his weed confiscated and sent on his way with nothing more than that knows the value of off-the-record dealings with cops.
posted by three blind mice at 5:42 AM on July 27, 2010


cop looking dude

In what way is that dude cop-looking, exactly?
posted by enn at 5:51 AM on July 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


He's threatening to shoot someone, cops do that!
posted by Artw at 5:53 AM on July 27, 2010 [14 favorites]


Ugh... I'm having a little cognitive dissonance here, because as important as I think oversight of police is, I can just imagine a bunch of crackpot know-nothings following around Arizona cops, making sure they ID check anyone who's brown.
posted by condour75 at 5:54 AM on July 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


Its about police government not wanting to be held accountable. Its what happens when you are given unchecked power.

FTFY.


I think that the conversation here should stick to the facts of the case.

The corruption or otherwise of government is a separate issue. Blaming the government in general here would be a bit like crossing out the word "police" and inserting the word "corporations", on the ground that the police are a corporate body.

In other words, I don't see what purpose it serves, other than

-a) to blame government in general for something specifically the fault of the police

OR

-b) to express a cynicism so generalised as to be unhelpful.
posted by lucien_reeve at 6:02 AM on July 27, 2010 [4 favorites]


This is the Internet; no one expects us to be helpful.
posted by enn at 6:07 AM on July 27, 2010 [8 favorites]


We pay the salaries of the police to protect us. I know that's a naive oversimplification, but I think that it's a fair line to hew to. Hence, cops can (and should) be monitored and surveyed as much as anyone else in this society, perhaps even more so.

We have given away (mostly through the courts) a lot of our rights to our police forces, and we should jealously demand them back. The video demonstrates how an action that would in any other case be construed as an assault with a deadly weapon, is instead (perversely) being spun into an example of a transgression on the part of the citizenry. It's ridiculous.

(Oh, and I hate jerks who drive stupidly too, but by failing ot identify himself immediately, that cop failed in a major way to do his job . The wiretapping BS is only a red herring for the larger outrage here).
posted by DavidandConquer at 6:08 AM on July 27, 2010 [4 favorites]


Man, I'm sort of split on this one. What do they mean by private? Private only in the sense of the wiretap law, or private in the sense of off-the-record. Every kid that has had his weed confiscated and sent on his way with nothing more than that knows the value of off-the-record dealings with cops.

This really isn't how the law is supposed to work. If officers are routinely letting people go for crimes, what people are doing shouldn't be considered criminal. Giving cops too much leeway on what they do and don't punish just causes too many problems. ie, if a white guy does something, we'll look the other way, but if it's a black guy we'll use it as an excuse to detain him and do a more intensive investigation and just see what pops up.

Of course, there *are* lots of times when what an officer is doing needs to remain confidential for the safety of everyone involved. Domestic violence, child abuse, talking to witnesses of a violent crime, etc. Those conversations usually aren't taking place out on a public street, though.
posted by pjaust at 6:09 AM on July 27, 2010 [15 favorites]


And this is pure, unadulterated misdirection:
"The question is: Is a police officer permitted to have a private conversation as part of their duty in responding to calls, or is everything a police officer does subject to being audio recorded?" Cassilly said.
That is not the question at all. The case is not about private conversations on the phone, or personal emails, or conversations within the police station or in a radio car. This is about a conversation that is intrinsically public because it is being conducted on the public streets where no one has any expectation of privacy.
posted by enn at 6:12 AM on July 27, 2010 [20 favorites]


Metafilter: expressing a cynicism so generalised as to be unhelpful.
posted by Leon at 6:15 AM on July 27, 2010 [5 favorites]


Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?
posted by brevator at 6:19 AM on July 27, 2010 [4 favorites]


What about the motorist's right to privacy concerning his/her conversation with the Po Po?
posted by spicynuts at 6:20 AM on July 27, 2010


I would like to hear more about the warrant the cops got to raid Graber's parents' house.

Amen to that. The early morning police raid seems like pure intimidation.
posted by mediareport at 6:20 AM on July 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Seems a lot like it, yes.
posted by Artw at 6:23 AM on July 27, 2010


Sorry that was a response to enn
posted by spicynuts at 6:24 AM on July 27, 2010


expecting a cop to always identify him/herself prior to pulling a gun is unreasonable. I can picture situations where an officer would want his/her gun unholstered before being known as being either present or being a cop.
posted by HuronBob at 6:25 AM on July 27, 2010


There's no motorist's right to privacy concerning his/her conversation with the Po Po. Once they pull you over, you are in a VERY public environment, as every teenager who has ever endured a 15 minute conversation with a police officer while the blue light is seemingly advertising to everyone in his/her small town that he/she is presumed to be speeding knows. More seriously, the police are often recording the whole stop (and I don't have a problem with that), and whether they are or not, everything you say can and will be used, etc. etc. should the matter go to court.

Now excuse me while I go crap in my pants because this is even a law on the books. You can't make a record of what the police are doing in the USA. Yikes.
posted by randomkeystrike at 6:26 AM on July 27, 2010


And, probably because I'm older than the hills, I don't think I've ever heard the term "Po Po" used by anyone who wasn't guilty of something.... except, I'm sure, spicynuts...
posted by HuronBob at 6:27 AM on July 27, 2010


I can picture situations where an officer would want his/her gun unholstered before being known as being either present or being a cop.

Is approaching a bike rider at a traffic stop one of those?
posted by grubi at 6:29 AM on July 27, 2010 [4 favorites]


This is about a conversation that is intrinsically public because it is being conducted on the public streets where no one has any expectation of privacy.

No one? Should the cops be permitted to wear webcams and put everything you say up on Youtube without your consent or permission?

Or what condour75 said?
posted by three blind mice at 6:32 AM on July 27, 2010


huronbob, it's one thing to be in uniform and entering a building or about to knock a door down (because you have a warrant) with a gun drawn and another to be a plain clothes officer pulling a gun on a motorist.

This is why plain clothes officers should just never, ever, ever take it on themselves to play traffic cop. Anyone who looks like a civilian who pulls a gun in my presence is going to be treated like a bad guy, and depending on my tactical options that person is going to get injured or run away from, or at least going to have to smell the urine in my clothes.

99% of the time when one of these plain clothes officers get involved in a stop like this, at least around here, they are NOT doing THEIR job, they're being indignant about a traffic situation and taking something on themselves that should be left to a uniformed officer.
posted by randomkeystrike at 6:33 AM on July 27, 2010 [24 favorites]


Should the cops be permitted to wear webcams and put everything you say up on Youtube without your consent or permission?

The cops do have cameras in their cars, the footage of which they are free to release without your permission and sometimes do.

Many, many webcams exist recording activity and conversations on public streets. Is it your contention that these should all be illegal?
posted by enn at 6:34 AM on July 27, 2010 [4 favorites]


No one? Should the cops be permitted to wear webcams and put everything you say up on Youtube without your consent or permission?

They do, don't they? All those cheap TV shows where the cops come out looking great?
posted by Leon at 6:36 AM on July 27, 2010


Should the cops be permitted to wear webcams and put everything you say up on Youtube without your consent or permission?

it's an unpleasant fact, but what you say during a traffic stop may enter the public record if it goes to court. Keep your mouth shut as much as possible during a traffic stop.

Don't talk to the police
posted by randomkeystrike at 6:36 AM on July 27, 2010 [3 favorites]


Ugh... I'm having a little cognitive dissonance here, because as important as I think oversight of police is, I can just imagine a bunch of crackpot know-nothings following around Arizona cops, making sure they ID check anyone who's brown.

I should hope they do that. The fastest way to repeal a bad law is to enforce stringently.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 6:38 AM on July 27, 2010 [8 favorites]


I am reminded of that AskMe last week about the woman who was upset that the pharmacy called the police after she went over some magical limit of antihistamines. Some of the people commenting wondered why she and her husband would be peeved at the pharmacy.

It's pretty simple: some people are terrified of police. And some of them have good reason. Who wants to have to deal with the police? If they're having a bad helmet hair day, nobody but nobody is going to get them to behave, and if you have a problem with their behavior, you will have very little recourse.

People fear gang violence and the most invulnerable gang of all wears blue.
posted by adipocere at 6:50 AM on July 27, 2010 [16 favorites]


you would have to conclude that a police officer on a public road, wearing a badge and a uniform, performing his official duty, pulling someone over

but the cop wasn't in uniform, nor was he (as far as I could tell) wearing a badge anywhere. Maybe he had it somewhere, Youtube comments mention his belt, but I sure as heck couldn't see it. What I see is a car coming to a stop a very pissed off man coming out waving a gun, after a second or two he announces he is a cop.

So the motorcyclist is thinking...

*HOLY SHIT SOME CRAZY DUDE IS POINTING A GUN AT ME!!!!!*

Lucky for him he didn't bolt or try to "flee." He could've been shot dead.

And furthermore, how could he have even turned off the camera now that he is at a stop with someone pointing a gun at him.

These laws seem to this non-lawyer to be wack. Since a cop or anyone could come within audio range at anytime, this would mean that *all public filming with sound* would be banned. Want to go to the park to record the birdsong of a yellow-bellied sapsucker? See you in court of two people happen to be walking by deep in conversation.
I thought that people had little expectation of privacy in public which is why movies or TV shows can film street scenes etc., whether the people want to be in it or not.
posted by xetere at 6:55 AM on July 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Seems to me the cop could have made his point by pulling out his badge instead of his gun.
posted by grubi at 7:01 AM on July 27, 2010 [27 favorites]


I'd argue that uniformed police should wear video & audio recorders that cannot be shut off whenever they're outside the station. All recordings should immediately be backed up off site with internal affairs and the public defender's office. Any suspicious failure to submit recordings should generally result in a mistrial for people arrested during the lost recordings.

Police would still have discretion to issue warnings, confiscate drugs, etc. without issuing tickets, making arrests, etc., just like a district attorney has discretion to drop cases he feels do not serve the interests of the public.

There would however be much stronger evidence for charges like resisting arrest, assaulting an officer, domestic violence, etc., while simultaneously the police officers engaging in abusing behavior would get reprimanded much more quickly. Police hemet cams are about the only CCTVs in Britain that routinely produce usable evidence.
posted by jeffburdges at 7:06 AM on July 27, 2010 [8 favorites]


During the aftermath of the Iran elections, the citizenry took extensive video footage of the police and government paramilitaries, as a means of holding them accountable for their brutality. Many were arrested, because the Iranian government doesn't want to be held accountable.

I think most of us were on the side of the citizenry on that one. The people should be allowed to record the people who are supposed to be enforcing the law, whenever they're on duty, in order to keep them honest.

I find it shocking that there is even a question of whether Americans have the right to record their government in action. How do you keep it honest? How do you prove police brutality without video? Would anyone have believed that the police excessively brutalized Rodney King without video?

Democracy can't work if the people are prevented from publicizing the actions of their government. That's what the First Amendment is all about. If you could explain to the Founding Fathers what a cell phone video was, there is no doubt in my mind that they would think it was an excellent way for the citizenry to fight back against tyrants. (And we would know what really happened at the Boston Massacre.)
posted by musofire at 7:06 AM on July 27, 2010 [16 favorites]


Exactly what reason did the cop have to draw his gun, anyway? I've never had a gun pulled on me at a traffic stop.
posted by shakespeherian at 7:10 AM on July 27, 2010


I've been around this guy weaving through traffic and doing wheelies on I-95. It's highly distracting to all the drivers around him, and irritating for personal reasons, and I hoped that he would get busted. I did not hope that an unidentified cop would leap out of a vehicle and draw a gun on him.
posted by zennie at 7:12 AM on July 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


This doesn't need to be hard. On duty cops can have private conversations, but these private conversations can't lead to an arrest or involve them trading on their power as law enforcement officials. If they are doing something that they would not be allowed to do as civillians they don't have the same right to privacy private citizens do. They are behaving as public officials. And this is the generous interpretation. I think it would be fine if part of being on duty as someone who has as part of the job the right and responsibility to weild deadly force you waived the right to privacy completely.
posted by I Foody at 7:22 AM on July 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm with shakespheherian. What the hell purpose does a gun serve during a traffic infraction? A properly trained person doesn't draw a gun unless absolutely prepared to fire it with cause. So, popo, you're going to shoot a guy dead for busting 15 and popping a wheelie?

I find our society here hovering on the brink of an abjectly Orwellian police state with the only thing keeping us from toppling into the depths being the ubiquity of AV recording devices. That the cops want to ban -- and in some cases have already banned -- ad-hoc recording of their actions in public is nothing less than a klaxon warning that we're about to plunge into the depths.

Time to re-read some Alan Moore, I think.
posted by seanmpuckett at 7:23 AM on July 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Should the cops be permitted to wear webcams and put everything you say up on Youtube without your consent or permission?
Complicating the issue: Maryland state troopers record traffic stops themselves, using dashboard cameras that were installed in all patrol cars as a result of a 2003 settlement with the state ACLU over racial profiling.

In an August 2000 legal opinion, the state's attorney general wrote that "many encounters between uniformed police officers and citizens could hardly be characterized as 'private conversations' " and that "any driver pulled over by a uniformed officer in a traffic stop is acutely aware that his or her statements are being made to a police officer and, indeed, that they may be repeated as evidence in a courtroom."

But [Harford County prosecutor] Cassilly says the use of dash cameras does not negate officers' entitlement to privacy on the job. Police who use dash cameras must alert drivers that they are being taped, he said.
posted by peeedro at 7:24 AM on July 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


The Washington Post has some more information

I hate it when an outlet incites me into being a mainstream media bashing blogger because I find it really unattractive, so I'll just say in this case you should view the Post's coverage as the barest slimming of the top. If you want more information on the issue in the DC area you're much better served looking at the contributions of several motivated people in the area. They were the majority of sources referred to anyway and they'll still be on the issue next week.

These two sites will lead you to much more coverage.

http://carlosmiller.com/
http://www.flickr.com/groups/dcphotorights/
posted by phearlez at 7:24 AM on July 27, 2010


My wife and I are living in Baltimore this summer so that she can be a Law Clerk with the ACLU of Maryland. She's been forwarding me lots of news articles related to this case.

In Maryland, all marked police cars have cameras installed as the result of an earlier ACLU lawsuit against the police. Related to this, and this is important, is the fact that the Maryland Attorney General has said, as part of an issued legal opinion:
"It is also notable that many encounters between uniformed police officers and citizens could hardly be characterized as “private conversations.” For example, any driver pulled over by a uniformed officer in a traffic stop is acutely aware that his or her statements are being made to a police officer and, indeed, that they may be repeated as evidence in a courtroom. It is difficult to characterize such a conversation as “private.”"
Given that, I think it's ridiculous to claim that police officers performing their public duty have an expectation of privacy that a citizen doesn't, while involved in the same interaction.

This is a new application of the wiretapping law in Maryland. There was an incident in March in which a UMD student was beaten by police in riot gear and then charged with assaulting a police officer. A cell phone video that had been made of the incident exonerated the student. After being embarrassed in that way, the police have been enforcing the wiretap law to prosecute people for taping police.
posted by sleepinglion at 7:26 AM on July 27, 2010 [13 favorites]


How many times has the Maryland wiretapping law been used to charge someone for recording a conversation that person was having with a non-police-officer on the public street?
posted by enn at 7:29 AM on July 27, 2010


Actually, it's funny. Both Alvin Toffler and George Orwell are totally relevant today. It's not one or the other -- both 1984 and Future Shock scenarios are active right now. The internet is our soma, and while we fritter away our impetus to act by looking at cat macros and Justin Bieber mockeries, the revisionists hide and reframe war reports, the men behind the black curtain analyze every mouse click, and moment by moment our freedoms are eroded ultimately allowing us only the blessing to consume, reproduce and toil in the machine. And vanish silently.
posted by seanmpuckett at 7:31 AM on July 27, 2010 [4 favorites]


OK...lets look at this video again...

The guy knew there was a marked police car behind him, we saw him turn and look at it after he hit the off ramp, and he knew why that car was chasing him. That marked car was stopped behind him when the unmarked car pulled in front of him...if he didn't know that both of those cars were police cars and all involved were officers, he was deluding himself.

He had been clocked at over 127 miles per hour on a three line highway.. he was doing wheelies at speed next to an RV, this guy was a fucking idiot and endangering a lot of people. Often when someone is driving like that it is because they are fleeing some event... Those officers had every right to make that assumption given the behavior of the biker... The drawn gun was understandable, the officer would have been a fool to walk up to this suspect holding out a badge instead of a gun....

Sorry, I can't get indignant about this... it wasn't an over-reaction to a petty traffic stop for an illegal turn or failure to signal, this guy deserved the response he got...
posted by HuronBob at 7:31 AM on July 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


Oh, hey, peeedro.
posted by sleepinglion at 7:31 AM on July 27, 2010


that said, he had every right to video this event.... In fact I support the right of an idiotic criminal to provide evidence of his crime and aid in his prosecution...
posted by HuronBob at 7:33 AM on July 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


I find it shocking that there is even a question of whether Americans have the right to record their government in action.

I find it not at all shocking that a Canadian is not viscerally aware that the lies America tells to and about itself are lies.

Democracy can't work if the people are prevented from publicizing the actions of their government.

This is very true. And Americans are, for the most part, already solidly prevented from publicizing the actions of our government. You can draw your own conclusions from that.

I make it about 50/50 Graber loses on at least some charges in his wiretap case. My guess is he'll lose enough to make sure everyone knows that if you get a video of the police doing something shady you better think long and hard about releasing it, but probably not enough to ruin his life permanently.
posted by rusty at 7:34 AM on July 27, 2010


HuronBob: Are you the guy that defends police at all times no matter how insane their behavior? Or is that someone else I'm thinking of? I can't always remember.
posted by rusty at 7:37 AM on July 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


I'd argue that uniformed police should wear video & audio recorders that cannot be shut off whenever they're outside the station. All recordings should immediately be backed up off site with internal affairs and the public defender's office. Any suspicious failure to submit recordings should generally result in a mistrial for people arrested during the lost recordings.

What condour75 said: I can just imagine a bunch of crackpot know-nothings following around Arizona cops, making sure they ID check anyone who's brown.

Under a scheme of mandatory taping, enforcement of the Arizona law would soar to levels that would bring joy to the Tea Baggers and every kid caught with a joint would be hauled off to jail.
posted by three blind mice at 7:41 AM on July 27, 2010


Often when someone is driving like that it is because they are fleeing some event [...] The drawn gun was understandable, the officer would have been a fool to walk up to this suspect holding out a badge instead of a gun....

Maybe in movies starring Jason Statham. In the real world, people usually drive like that because they are idiots. But you don't need to shoot idiots.
posted by shakespeherian at 7:50 AM on July 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


If that happened to me, I'd assume I was about to get jumped for my motorbike.

Yeah holy fucking shit. Is Maryland a concealed carry state? I know several people who carry. There's only a matter of time before some stupid plain clothes cop pulls out his gun and a citizen carrying pops a few rounds in him.

This reminds me of the snowball gun incident. You do not branish a firearm without the intent of using it. Here he's using it as a show of force, look at me I have a gun, I'm the alpha dog here. What are you going to do, shoot a guy for speeding?

I have an idea: let's get rid officers carrying handguns all together. Let them have long rifles in their patrol cars. If I remember correctly, Dutch police don't carry and I didn't see any massive crime wave.

Police are human, they make mistakes and sometimes act like assholes. Let's just not have every single one of them carrying a load gun all the time.
posted by geoff. at 8:01 AM on July 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


"But you don't need to shoot idiots."

Oh crap, I'm sorry, I guess I clicked off the youtube video before he actually shot him... holy shit...
posted by HuronBob at 8:07 AM on July 27, 2010


Those officers had every right to make that assumption given the behavior of the biker... The drawn gun was understandable, the officer would have been a fool to walk up to this suspect holding out a badge instead of a gun....

Really? I usually fall on the side of being more forgiving of cops than most on MeFi, so I'm sourprised that I disagree so strongly. The motorcyclist pulled over, which is cooperating. They have not committed any crime other than speeding and the act of going fast should not be enough to make you a suspect of a violent crime. Really, there needs to be a high bar for a cop to be allowed to draw a gun.
posted by Think_Long at 8:11 AM on July 27, 2010 [3 favorites]


I think the practical solution the ACLU has been ignoring would be to put a Girls Gone Wild clingfilm on everyone's driver-side mirror.
posted by adipocere at 8:12 AM on July 27, 2010 [5 favorites]


I'd say the officer definitely made a mistake by not saying "state police!" AS he was drawing his gun, but the rest seems fine to me. The biker was driving really recklessly, so he's probably got a lot of adrenaline running through his system, and it's not unheard of for a cop to get shot during a traffic stop. The cop didn't even point the gun at the guy, he just had it out and pointed down - I'd say that's well within his authority as a precautionary measure.

Also, is it possible he was intending to shoot the bike or something if the guy tried to run? Those cars probably don't have the mobility (or speed?) to catch a crotch rocket if he bolted. I notice his first concern was getting the guy off the bike, and the second he turned the engine off he holstered the gun.
posted by chundo at 8:12 AM on July 27, 2010


But yeah, that said, what's the problem with videotaping it? I don't see the problem.
posted by chundo at 8:14 AM on July 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Also, is it possible he was intending to shoot the bike or something if the guy tried to run? Those cars probably don't have the mobility (or speed?) to catch a crotch rocket if he bolted.

What world do you live in where this is a reasonable explanation?
posted by Think_Long at 8:17 AM on July 27, 2010 [6 favorites]


"The motorcyclist pulled over, which is cooperating."

the way I saw it is that he didn't pull over until he came to the end of the ramp where he was stopped by traffic ahead of him... his speed down the ramp, when he already knew the other car was behind him didn't seem to indicate he intended to stop.. Think about how long it was from when he saw the marked car before he stopped... It just didn't feel to me that "cooperation" was his intent...

chundo makes a point I hadn't noticed...the gun was never pointed at the rider...
posted by HuronBob at 8:18 AM on July 27, 2010


The world where abusing your toys and endangering fellow humans gets those toys taken away from you. You?
posted by chundo at 8:18 AM on July 27, 2010


I live in B'more. One cannot put this into proper context without mention of the irony: MD State Police illegally wiretapped nonviolent Iraq war protesters, calling them white-supremacists, PETA (a security threat), and citizens opposed to a 72% electricity rate increase. This guy was recording himself doing stupid things. In the course of this, he happened to be pulled over. To stop that camera from recording, he'd have to remove his gloves and helmet, open the enclosure, and turn it off.

By their interpretation of the law, a home video shot at the beach that contains ambient noise of nearby conversations could constitute an illegal wiretap. How many other videos are there, shot with cell phones, of people being made fun of, pranked, exposed, who were unaware? Why aren't the state police investigating these videos? Who are they to serve and protect?
posted by Shike at 8:19 AM on July 27, 2010 [4 favorites]


Arizona police would still be free to ignore their immigration law just by asserting they had "no reasonable suspicion." It doesn't matter how many tea baggers inspect video footage of cops chatting with Latinos, the law explicitly gives the police discretion.

Yes, the police chief can order officers to inspect the documents of people living at a particular address and/or carry out so many document checks per day, thus limiting their discretion, but video doesn't effect this, cops are expected to follow such orders anyways.

Britain has universal helmet cams but cops still confiscate drugs without arresting.
posted by jeffburdges at 8:20 AM on July 27, 2010


Here at work my emails are subject to monitoring, ditto for my web surfing and IM activity. And while I don't believe my phone conversations are recorded, the numbers I call and who call me are. Why should public employees expect anything they do to be private?
posted by tommasz at 8:21 AM on July 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


The police in Maryland are twisting a statute meant to protect people from government intrusion to, instead, punish people for trying to protect themselves from government abuse.
posted by Shike at 8:26 AM on July 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


I've been watching this shift in police policy with regard to being photographed over the past few years, and I really think that a national mandate needs to come down which explicitly states that the police have no expectation of privacy with regards to photography when on duty.

There is no good reason I have seen or heard to change my mind on this. If they are acting within the bounds of the law, any footage of them that I take can only be of benefit to them, and if they are acting outside of the law then the footage should be of use to their supervisors and the press.

This needs to be a thing.
posted by quin at 8:26 AM on July 27, 2010 [4 favorites]


condour75: Ugh... I'm having a little cognitive dissonance here, because as important as I think oversight of police is, I can just imagine a bunch of crackpot know-nothings following around Arizona cops, making sure they ID check anyone who's brown.

Okay, that's a reasonable point about the issue of public vs private. But we can agree that retaliatory raids by police are bad, right? I'm thinking we want police upholding laws in a manner conducive to most efficiently maintaining public safety, not most conducive to maintaining grudges against people they don't like.
posted by atbash at 8:28 AM on July 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


The police can do no wrong and they're all Heroes™.
posted by maxwelton at 8:28 AM on July 27, 2010


The world where abusing your toys and endangering fellow humans gets those toys taken away from you.

So in your world, cops don't have guns?
posted by shakespeherian at 8:28 AM on July 27, 2010 [9 favorites]


"What about the motorist's right to privacy concerning his/her conversation with the Po Po?"

They have none; everything they say (or at least the police officer's version) can be entered into the public record in a trial.
posted by Mitheral at 8:33 AM on July 27, 2010


Interestingly, no sooner did I post my last comment and the proxy server stopped working. A coincidence, I'm sure.
posted by tommasz at 8:34 AM on July 27, 2010


Growing Number of Prosecutions for Videotaping the Police

Freedom of photography: Police, security often clamp down despite public right
posted by homunculus at 8:41 AM on July 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


The problem here is not that the officer felt the need to draw his gun, for whatever reason. The problem is that he did it in a really sketchy way and then, after doling out the ticket that should have ended the incident, filed charges and got the guy's parents' house raided, seemingly because he didn't like the video being on YouTube. To me, that kind of overreaction calls into question the officer's judgment, including this judgment in pulling the weapon in the first place. It's only prudent for cops to be proactive about their own safety when faced with an unknown, but a marked cop car being behind the motorcyclist only decreases the need to draw a weapon on a guy who was stopped for acting like a moron on the freeway.
posted by zennie at 8:42 AM on July 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Taking Photos In Public Places Is Not A Crime: Analysis
posted by homunculus at 8:43 AM on July 27, 2010


In related news: Boston Police Fight Cellphone Recordings.
posted by ericb at 8:45 AM on July 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Straight Talk: Videotaping Police.
posted by ericb at 8:45 AM on July 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


There are people out there who argue in favor of this sort of law, but who also argue in favor of red-light cameras and suspicionless surveillance, like the blue-light boxes all over Baltimore. Some of them aren't even, themselves, cops. This baffles me.
posted by kafziel at 8:49 AM on July 27, 2010


This reminds me of the snowball gun incident.

It's exactly what came to mind for me, as well.

Previous FPP: "Don't Bring a Gun to a Snowball Fight."
posted by ericb at 8:55 AM on July 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Wow, I agree with something posted on the Fox News site! Now I've seen everything!
posted by Mister_A at 8:57 AM on July 27, 2010


"But you don't need to shoot idiots."

Oh crap, I'm sorry, I guess I clicked off the youtube video before he actually shot him... holy shit...


1st rule of guns is you don't draw a gun unless you're in a situation that justifies shooting someone. If shooting a guy would have been a horrible overreaction, waving a gun at him is a horrible overreaction.
posted by straight at 8:57 AM on July 27, 2010 [11 favorites]


the gun was never pointed at the rider...

Then why was it drawn? I'm not a cop, but I assume that they go through basic firearms training, right? And one of the things you get taught in Firearms 101 is that you don't unholster your weapon unless you think you might need to shoot at someone. Pointing the gun ANYWHERE is a potential threat, because bullets move very quickly, they can bounce off of hard surfaces, and try as you might you can't unfire them.
posted by me & my monkey at 9:22 AM on July 27, 2010 [5 favorites]


or on lack of preview what straight said.
posted by me & my monkey at 9:23 AM on July 27, 2010


"somehow has a right to privacy when it comes to the conversation he has with the motorist."

The weirdest part is how this is being framed; even the ACLU lawyer is getting this wrong. The cop pulled a fucking gun out.

I have never been involved in a conversation that started with a loaded, unholstered weapon.
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 9:24 AM on July 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


We deserve what we accept.

We accept this, so we deserve it.

Nonresponse is acceptance.

Send me a postcard from Shouldsville.
posted by basilwhite at 9:25 AM on July 27, 2010


> In other words, I don't see what purpose it serves, other than

-a) to blame government in general for something specifically the fault of the police

OR

-b) to express a cynicism so generalised as to be unhelpful.


You forgot:

-c) to use the assholish FTFY trope that is as annoying as fuck.

If people have a point to make they should make it. Trying to put words in someone else's mouth is rude, puerile, disrespectful, unfunny, and old.
posted by cjorgensen at 9:26 AM on July 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


1st rule of guns is you don't draw a gun unless you're in a situation that justifies shooting someone.

That is absurd. The reason cops draw weapons all the time is that they don't know whether or not someone has a weapon. If a cop is in a situation which justifies shooting someone, then there is a gun pointed at them or another officer, by which time it is far to late to start drawing weapons. Simple as that: police draw weapons because they might need to use them with little warning. If this had been a felony stop, the cops would have had their guns pointed at the driver as a matter of procedure, even if the driver was complying nicely. This happens every day, and usually without anyone getting shot. The officer in the video was pretty well within bounds here to have an unholstered gun when entering a situation which is potentially dangerous. You can argue about when he should have identified himself and whether he should have let a uniformed officer handle it (both legitimate but not very significant complaints), but the idea that a gun pointed at the ground is some sort of flagrant abuse of power is silly. (The video issue is an entirely different matter. That is an abuse of power, hands down.)
posted by kiltedtaco at 9:28 AM on July 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


The reason cops draw weapons all the time is that they don't know whether or not someone has a weapon.

Maybe they should just walk around with pistols akimbo, because hey-- who knows?
posted by shakespeherian at 9:39 AM on July 27, 2010 [3 favorites]


There are people out there who argue in favor of this sort of law, but who also argue in favor of red-light cameras and suspicionless surveillance, like the blue-light boxes all over Baltimore. Some of them aren't even, themselves, cops. This baffles me.

I much prefer the British system, where your speeding ticket is generally triggered by a speed cam, or or your running a red light is triggered by a camera on the light, over the US system, where Bubba and Cousin Cletus sit off discreetly, waiting for an unsuspecting motorist to do two miles an hour over the limit before they pull you over, inspect your documents and do a full vehicle inspection, all the while treating you like a potential murderer while they look for any possible reason at all, no matter how flimsy, that they can use as probable cause to search your vehicle.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 9:39 AM on July 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


1st rule of guns is you don't draw a gun unless you're in a situation that justifies shooting someone. If shooting a guy would have been a horrible overreaction, waving a gun at him is a horrible overreaction.

Or flip it around: if someone points a gun at you, it is an entirely reasonable thing to assume that they may shoot you with it.

What does that mean for a situation when the person with the gun hasn't identified themselves as a police officer, or has pulled their gun in an entirely unjustified situation? Personally I think that if an individual has pulled a gun on one of my loved ones then I am acting entirely reasonably if I shoot them. The law, for the most part, supports this right to self-defense and the defense of others.

I suspect that the law may be a little less forgiving if the person has identified themselves as a police officer but is acting irrationally/erratically, but if an officer showed up at my home and pulled a gun on my wife over, say, loud music? I'd still be inclined to act in defense of her and deal with the consequences later. If you need a more believable parallel, consider Rodney King. If he'd had a legally armed loved on present, how would you judge that person for using their own weapon to try to stop the obviously out-of-control beating?

When an officer escalates a situation outside of reasonable levels they have turned it into a condition that's potentially catastrophic for everyone. Someone - including the person being drawn on - may react in a way that we don't want people to react to the police. Maybe the officer gets shot. Bad for the officer, bad for the person who shot them, bad for society.

An office who pulls a weapon in a situation that doesn't already involve one is setting the tone of the encounter. That's significant, and we should hold them to a high standard.
posted by phearlez at 9:45 AM on July 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


The officer in the video was pretty well within bounds here to have an unholstered gun when entering a situation which is potentially dangerous.

Right, because the guy on the motorcycle, with his hands clearly visible, could have ... could have what, exactly? Pulled a gun from where? There is no visible threat to the officer anywhere in that video, but the first thing you see from the officer, as he's stepping from the car, is a drawn firearm. There's no obvious cue he's even a police officer. That is needless escalation.
posted by me & my monkey at 9:52 AM on July 27, 2010


The weirdest part is how this is being framed; even the ACLU lawyer is getting this wrong. The cop pulled a fucking gun out.

I have never been involved in a conversation that started with a loaded, unholstered weapon.


The ACLU lawyer is probably trying to create a precedent that isn't limited to "if the cop has his gun drawn".
posted by kafziel at 9:52 AM on July 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Heck, you guys have convinced me... A cop shouldn't draw his gun 'til he actually has a bullet in his head...
posted by HuronBob at 9:55 AM on July 27, 2010


"Pulled a gun from where? " oh, I don't know, his waistband, inside his coat, from his boot.... probably the usual places...

So, you're saying that people on motorcycles can't possibly have a concealed weapon?
posted by HuronBob at 9:57 AM on July 27, 2010


Kafziel

Good call. Makes sense to me.
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 10:03 AM on July 27, 2010


Well what you seem to be saying is that a person on a motorcycle has a concealed weapon. In the "usual" places.
posted by Big_B at 10:04 AM on July 27, 2010


At this point in time, and for the last decade or so, the U.S. has very much been a police state - and one could easily argue that it's been that way for a lot longer; look into the property forfeiture laws enacted during the Reagan years, and you'll quickly understand. It's only going to get worse - witness the media coverage of the fact that BP, in collusion with the Coast Guard, has been harassing folks trying to take pictures of some of the havoc of the Gulf oil spill. On public land. Hell, what about the whole sick joke of First Amendment areas, "freedom of speech zones" - it's science fiction as reality. Nothing - and I mean nothing - about the films Network and A Clockwork Orange, is fiction anymore. Think about that long and hard. It's downright terrifying.
posted by dbiedny at 10:08 AM on July 27, 2010


Here's the list for 2010, officers killed by gunshots... only 34 so far this year and it's nearly half over... read the stories, look at the pictures... look at the faces...if these aren't enough, you can search through all of the officers that died year by year....

Pay attention to how many of them were killed during traffic stops...

then, please e/mail me with your reasons why officers shouldn't make an attempt to protect themselves.

I'm done with this thread....
posted by HuronBob at 10:09 AM on July 27, 2010


A cop shouldn't draw his gun 'til he actually has a bullet in his head...

A cop should be held to a higher standard with the use of firearms. They took a job where they may be placed in harm's way. Private citizens driving motorcycles didn't do any such thing.

So, you're saying that people on motorcycles can't possibly have a concealed weapon?

No. But as someone who's both carried concealed weapons and ridden motorcycles (and even bicycles) carrying said concealed weapon, I feel fairly confident in saying that getting one out would be a fairly obvious and fairly time-consuming maneuver. The motorcyclist's hands are in plain sight. It takes significantly less time removing a handgun from an external, unsnapped holster. I think unsnapping the holster strap (assuming it has a snap in the first place) is acceptable behavior for any traffic stop.

Adding a gun to a situation where there isn't a gun increases the likelihood that someone will get shot.
posted by me & my monkey at 10:10 AM on July 27, 2010


Heck, you guys have convinced me... A cop shouldn't draw his gun 'til he actually has a bullet in his head...

You're being obtuse. This was a plain clothes police officer in an unmarked car on a crowded highway ramp. The violation was for speeding and neither the police officer nor anyone else was in any immediate or perceived danger. I'd much rather see a motorcyclist get away with a misdemeanor traffic violation than a cowboy shootout during rush hour.

We're lucky the motorcyclist wasn't carrying. I've seen a car jacking and that looked exactly like a car jacking.
posted by geoff. at 10:12 AM on July 27, 2010 [5 favorites]


Thanks Huronbob. I'll be driving in the US shortly, and I'll remember that if I get shot at by a cop if I get pulled over, its my fault, because I *might* maybe have a gun and the opportunity to pull it out. Especially if my hands are fully visible.
posted by sandraregina at 10:13 AM on July 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


I would like to hear more about the warrant the cops got to raid Graber's parents' house.

Yeah, I would also like to hear about the current status of the disbarment proceedings against the judge and attorney general that decided their oath of office and the Fourth Amendment was merely an inconvenience in this case.

Should the cops be permitted to wear webcams and put everything you say up on Youtube without your consent or permission?

For the ten billionth time, this time with bold, italics and motherfucking blink: YES.

Public space. No expectation of privacy. Not for cop, not for trouble-maker, not for honest, upstanding citizen.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 10:16 AM on July 27, 2010 [9 favorites]


The best possible outcome would obviously be for Anthony Graber to nail the police department in a lawsuit for malicious prosecution. Any idea what the chances for that are? Police are fairly obviously engaging in the criminal version of a SLAPP here.
posted by jeffburdges at 10:20 AM on July 27, 2010


Here's the list for 2010, officers killed by gunshots... only 34 so far this year and it's nearly half over... read the stories, look at the pictures... look at the faces...if these aren't enough, you can search through all of the officers that died year by year....

Where's the list of people wrongfully killed by police officers so far this year? A friend of mine was shot three times in the chest by two cops during a routine traffic stop (after getting pepper sprayed in the face). He's dead. There's no Charity Worker Down page to memorialize him.
posted by shakespeherian at 10:23 AM on July 27, 2010 [12 favorites]


chundo: "Also, is it possible he was intending to shoot the bike or something if the guy tried to run? Those cars probably don't have the mobility (or speed?) to catch a crotch rocket if he bolted. I notice his first concern was getting the guy off the bike, and the second he turned the engine off he holstered the gun."

Maryland biker and former police officer here. You do not pull your weapon unless you are prepared to use it. You do not shoot motorcycles, you shoot people. There are several levels of escalation before you get to your firearm. Only an idiot throws away working space by jumping those levels without a damned good reason.

Graber is a squid and I hate punks like that who give bikers a bad name. Had he gone into a bridge embankment on the Balt Wash Parkway, I'd be laughing. But, that cop over-reacted badly, endangering himself and everyone around the incident.

If that stupid squid hadn't been already taping his misdemeanors, we wouldn't know that this cop needs to be fired. Kid should be rewarded. I might even be willing to give him back his bike license after a few classes and 5 years of mopeding or so.
posted by QIbHom at 10:29 AM on July 27, 2010 [20 favorites]


eesh. If someone pulls a gun on me, my first reaction is "OH MY GOD HE'S GOT A GUN HE'S GOT A GUN".
posted by Baby_Balrog at 10:35 AM on July 27, 2010


Here's the list for 2010, officers killed by gunshots... only 34 so far this year and it's nearly half over... read the stories, look at the pictures... look at the faces...if these aren't enough, you can search through all of the officers that died year by year....

Pay attention to how many of them were killed during traffic stops...


Five.

1, 2, 3, 4, 5.

It's not really clear that drawing a gun without showing ID would have helped in any of those cases, or that taking people to court for making videos (and harrasing their familys in a huighly douchey manner) would have had an affect on those numbers either.

And having looked through them, responding to gunfire or getting involved in a domestic now both seem like really bad ideas.
posted by Artw at 10:38 AM on July 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


What's troubling to me is how quickly everybody seems to be sidetracked by whether or not the cyclist is an asshole or should police officers carry and/or draw guns. While i appreciate your passionate feelings on those matters, NONE OF THAT MATTERS. The details of WHAT was videotaped are completely immaterial. What matters is that a suspect videotaped his traffic stop, and the police have mangled the law to punish him for publishing the footage for others to see. Please, retain some perspective here, because if we truly are now a society that prohibits public examination of the behavior of police officers, we're in a lot more trouble than we know. It won't MATTER what cops do with guns because unless you're right there on the scene, you'll never fucking see it, and even if you ARE there, telling anyone about it could result in your prosecution.
posted by OneMonkeysUncle at 10:41 AM on July 27, 2010 [8 favorites]



I can't find this in anyone's posts, so if I'm repeating something, I apologize, but...

Wouldn't the cops be screwing themselves, too? Let's say cop is patrolling, and he chases a suspect into someone's yard. Shots are fired, both the cop and suspect end up in the ICU.

Now, the cop is certain the other guy pulled the gun first, but witness accounts vary. So, they find someone recorded the whole thing on a camera phone...

How would these cops feel when the video evidence shows the police officer only fired after the gun was drawn and a judge is all "ain't that some shit? Now you guys want this admitted as evidence? Sucks to be you..."

[embed=gavel.ftw]
posted by Bathtub Bobsled at 10:49 AM on July 27, 2010


Many places issue police helmet-cams and such for that exact purpose, Bathtub. That's also why you see dash-cams on many police cars.

The issue is that when the police are the only parties allowed to record police interactions, the tapes tend to get misplaced or accidentally deleted when the cops are out of line.
posted by kafziel at 10:57 AM on July 27, 2010 [3 favorites]


This comment in a deleted WTF Police? thread seems to give a very good insight into the general attitude of the police and the whole . And then if you want some WTF Police outrage check the videos at the bottom.
posted by Artw at 10:58 AM on July 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


A couple of years ago, our local bar association did a little presentation called "What's Your Color?" that was basically a personality test where the end result was a color (green, red, blue, yellow IIRC) and the supposed accompanying traits for each color. Apart from the (non)-validity of that approach, the only thing I remember from that little dog-and-pony show was the presenter commenting, almost as an aside, that numerous studies have shown that law enforcement and criminals essentially share the very same set of personality traits; they just, ahem, "apply them differently."

Every time I see one of these "only police can video/photograph police" stories I think the guy was spot on. It's not too big of a leap from this type of law enforcement action to going after WikiLeaks for exposing the lies of public officials in Iraq/Afghanistan.

"Power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely."
posted by webhund at 11:20 AM on July 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


A couple of years ago, our local bar association did a little presentation called "What's Your Color?" that was basically a personality test where the end result was a color (green, red, blue, yellow IIRC) and the supposed accompanying traits for each color. Apart from the (non)-validity of that approach, the only thing I remember from that little dog-and-pony show was the presenter commenting, almost as an aside, that numerous studies have shown that law enforcement and criminals essentially share the very same set of personality traits; they just, ahem, "apply them differently."

I can't wait for the self-help book: Who Moved My Violent Sense Of Entitlement?
posted by vorfeed at 11:43 AM on July 27, 2010 [3 favorites]


"police draw weapons because they might need to use them with little warning. If this had been a felony stop, the cops would have had their guns pointed at the driver as a matter of procedure, even if the driver was complying nicely. This happens every day, and usually without anyone getting shot. The officer in the video was pretty well within bounds here to have an unholstered gun when entering a situation which is potentially dangerous."

Is it routine for police officers to draw their weapons during a traffic stop in the US?
posted by Mitheral at 1:47 PM on July 27, 2010


No.
posted by LordSludge at 1:55 PM on July 27, 2010


Here's the list for 2010, officers killed by gunshots... only 34 so far this year
[snip]
then, please e/mail me with your reasons why officers shouldn't make an attempt to protect themselves.


This is a macguffin. Putting aside the question shakespeherian raises about how many shootings of civilians happen because an officer DID draw his/her weapon, nothing in that statistic supports the idea that having their weapon drawn reduces the likelihood that an officer will be shot.

An officer should absolutely protect themselves, and part of that self protection involves setting the tone on the encounter. A lot of things go into that, and one of them is choosing how and when to enter the scene.

The officer in the video makes a decision to get involved in a traffic stop, a situation that doesn't have a reasonable assumption of imminent danger. He chooses to pull up and get out of his car with his weapon drawn but without identification. He does not immediately identify himself as law enforcement.

That officer is not attempting to keep himself safe by having his weapon drawn. He's endangering himself in several ways.
posted by phearlez at 2:02 PM on July 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


Tell the police the truth
posted by Antidisestablishmentarianist at 2:03 PM on July 27, 2010


On failing to preview, I have not been clear. When I say the situation doesn't have a reasonable assumption of imminent danger, I mean the motorcyclist's speeding. That situation doesn't demand immediate action. The danger of doing nothing is comparatively small. Just like the officer should not get into a high speed chase over a shoplifted candy bar he did not need to respond in this way.
posted by phearlez at 2:05 PM on July 27, 2010


Can you say "police state"? Sure you can!
posted by Mental Wimp at 2:29 PM on July 27, 2010


enn: "Many, many webcams exist recording activity and conversations on public streets. Is it your contention that these should all be illegal?"

Well, YEA! What part of "surveillance society" don't you understand?
posted by carping demon at 3:07 PM on July 27, 2010


In related news:
Seattle considering body cams for police.

Should Cops Wear Body Cameras? [video | 01:44].

Butler County (KS) Officers get cameras on their uniforms.
posted by ericb at 3:27 PM on July 27, 2010


There's no Charity Worker Down page to memorialize him.

Perhaps there should be.
posted by swimming naked when the tide goes out at 3:46 PM on July 27, 2010


The Panopticon only and always shall look ever outward, never shall it turn inward. The horrors must be kept at bay out there, and refusal to see the dirty rotten ugly guts on the inside is a supreme commandment of the gazing eye.
posted by symbioid at 5:16 PM on July 27, 2010


Oh also, seeing that one music video above... I would like to present "Kunt and Scorpio Scorpio - Copper"
posted by symbioid at 5:23 PM on July 27, 2010


A personal anecdote while I'm at it: A month or two ago, I was out getting lunch and accelerated through a yellow light. It's one of those things where you drive under the overpass, then turn left. I do this and get on the main highway to the next exit. I'm driving along with my tunes up, not really noticing much except the traffic in front of me. I get off the exit, and slowly approach my destination. I was driving the speed limit this whole time, mind you.

As I'm getting close to the lot, I notice a truck with the lights on behind me. There's a lot of construction in the area, so it's weird and hard to figure out where to park, being that I'm like right in the way of the entrance area. The car in front of me stops, I stop. Then it pulls ahead.

At this point I don't know what's going on. I thought perhaps there may have been an emergency - certainly didn't make a connection with my running the light. The car in front of me gets going. So I start to go too. I start to put it together, but figure by that point, I'll just get over to a side area to not impede the flow of traffic. As I'm turning the corner (mind you I'm still going slow and everything) The cop pulls over around and tries to cut me off.

He gets out of the car, all huffed up, his hand visibly ready to draw the taser. I see that, and having seen the bullshit overuse of tasers I start to freak. And I mean freak. He's like "WHAT ARE YOU DOING?" My cracking voice says "I'm trying to get out of the way so I don't interrupt traffic" "I HAVE THE LIGHTS! I AM THE LAW. THEY CAN GO AROUND!" I still wasn't sure what was going on but by that point all I cared about was not getting tased, bro.

I have anxiety issues. Part of it is due to my own raging tendencies and not wanting to hurt anyone or anything so it goes inward. So of course, here I am, adrenaline pumping inside and all I can do is fucking cry while this pig yells at me for like 2 minutes reiterating his point over and over... "YOU PULL OVER AND STOP WHEN YOU SEE THE LIGHT" (I realized later he probably thought I saw him on the highway, not realizing it wasn't until he was right on my ass that I saw him).

Point being. He had a hothead. He was a complete fucking asshole. It scared the fuck outta me. His approach was completely aggressive. I certainly could've done better, but I wasn't sure what was going on. I don't get the luxury to lash out at the big mighty authority figure, instead, I get to be the scared civilian kowtowing to power.

In the end, after my fucking breakdown and me telling him I was pretty much having an anxiety attack, he gave me a written warning (due to no big history of infractions).

But I think he knew he fucked up and didn't want me to make a complaint. So I got off, but at what cost? If I was recording should I or would I have shown it to his superiors? I doubt it. But if I was tased - it would be nice to know that I'm not doing anything to deserve it.

I don't even know what to say, but I hate this increasing militarization of the police, and I hate the attitude that a lot of low-rent cops have, and the thin-blue line, and this is why we NEED fucking cameras on those thugs. If there's honest cops, then, like they like to tell us: what have they to worry about.

But this is a public sphere, and they should know that if they're gonna do shit in public, they better damn well expect to be recorded.
posted by symbioid at 5:40 PM on July 27, 2010 [5 favorites]


The drawn gun was understandable, the officer would have been a fool to walk up to this suspect holding out a badge instead of a gun....


Oh yeah? Don't you find it funny that the cop almost immediately put the gun away? It was almost like he just drew his gun because he could....
posted by DavidandConquer at 9:40 PM on July 27, 2010


OK we've got a speeder with a camera on his head, this obviously means trouble. Get your guns ready, im going in
posted by andykapahala at 4:21 AM on July 28, 2010


Once upon a time my girlfriend left an empty pack of cigarettes on top of my car. On the way back to my place, a cop must have seen them fall off the car or something. My driver side window doesn't go down, so as he walked to my car I cracked the car door a bit and tried to tell him about the whole window situation.

He immediately pulled out his glock and waved it at/around my head and started screaming for me to put my hands on the wheel.

I got a warning once he realized how badly he fucked up.
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 10:01 AM on July 28, 2010


Oh yeah? Don't you find it funny that the cop almost immediately put the gun away? It was almost like he just drew his gun because he could....

Nah, I don't think that's quite fair. Lest anyone think I'm inconsistent with my earlier statements - I think he probably shouldn't have gotten involved with the stop. There was a marked car right behind him. But other than that, my only quarrel with his behavior was

- he should have displayed a badge (sometimes difficult in plain clothes, which is why I don't think plainclothes officers should do traffic stops)
- the douchebaggery surrounding the YouTube posting (which kinda proves he knew he had screwed up at least slightly, either that or he was upset because he's supposed to be doing undercover work and now he's all over the interwebz, which is ANOTHER reason these drug clowns shouldn't get involved with traffic stops...)

But all those caveats aside, his demeanor is professional, actually. He has unholstered his weapon because he is making what may be a felony stop. He did not point it at the motorcyclist (no, he didn't - watch carefully), and while he is repeating commands forcefully at first, he is not ranting and raving. And once he sees the motorcyclist is being compliant, he holsters the weapon.

Had he a) been in uniform and a marked car and b) not later engaged in unconstitutional crapola over the helmet-cam issue, I'd have given him an A+.

And if the video had ended with the motorcyclist crashing, I'd have laughed too.
posted by randomkeystrike at 7:17 PM on July 28, 2010


Swedish police don't seem to mind being videotaped.
posted by homunculus at 1:35 PM on July 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


A federal police officer shot a dog in a dog park on Monday. The police won't name the officer and aren't filing charges, so the dog's owners intend to put up flyers to warn the neighborhood about the shooter. I wonder how the police are going to react to that.
posted by homunculus at 2:02 PM on August 4, 2010


Three law enforcement officials defend the arrest of citizens who record on-duty cops.
posted by homunculus at 8:45 PM on August 9, 2010


Update to this thread: Whistleblowing cop slaps NYPD with $50 million suit for locking him up in psych ward
posted by homunculus at 10:46 AM on August 10, 2010


Denver officials clash over police discipline after brutal video released
posted by homunculus at 11:15 AM on August 15, 2010


Albuquerque police may soon start wearing mini-video cameras.
posted by stoneweaver at 9:23 PM on August 17, 2010


Albuquerque police may soon start wearing mini-video cameras.

Oh, goody, next time they'll have a video souvenir when they kill somebody and/or bust up a gay club!

ABQ cops are the worst in the state. My "favorite" is the suicide suspect the SWAT team shot while he was hiding behind a tree in the bosque -- guess that prevented the crime, didn't it?
posted by vorfeed at 11:35 PM on August 17, 2010


Denver Police Beat Son of Veteran Cop (And Got Away With It)
posted by homunculus at 12:34 PM on August 18, 2010


NYPD cop threatens citizen with jail and rape for being “disrespectful” (video)
posted by homunculus at 12:37 PM on August 18, 2010


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