Know your rights (filming the police edition)
July 13, 2016 5:44 PM   Subscribe

"What do you say to a police officer who tells you to stop when you are legally and not obstructively filming their interactions?"

"It's a situation that I think calls for significant caution. I would urge people to be aware not just of their right to film; but also any relevant case law. That is, the name of the case that allows them to film in their jurisdiction. For example, if I'm in Michigan, it's awfully nice if I can say, 'Officer, I appreciate that, and I respect your authority and will stay at a safe distance; but the case X vs. Y gives me the right to film you in public."

On The Media's Breaking News Consumer's Handbook: Bearing Witness Edition (full version)

Short version:
1. Hold your phone horizontally.
2. Keep your phone charged.
3. Keep your distance.
4. Keep your mouth shut.
5. Keep cool.
6. Know your rights.
7. Get details.
8. Edit, but don't manipulate.
9. There's an app for this.
10. Go to the media.
11. But first, be considerate.

Know Your Rights: Photographers - What to do if you are stopped or detained for taking photographs (ACLU)
If stopped for photography, the right question to ask is, ‘am I free to go?’ If the officer says no, then you are being detained, something that under the law an officer cannot do without reasonable suspicion that you have or are about to commit a crime or are in the process of doing so. Until you ask to leave, your being stopped is considered voluntary under the law and is legal.

7 Rules For Recording Police
Rule #1: Know the Law (Wherever You Are)
Rule #2 Don’t Secretly Record Police
Rule #3: Respond to “Shit Cops Say”
Rule #4: Don’t Share Your Video with Police
Rule #5: Prepare to be Arrested
Rule #6: Master Your Technology
Rule #7: Don’t Point Your Camera Like a Gun

The law in 38 states plainly allows citizens to record police, as long as you don’t physically interfere with their work. Police might still unfairly harass you, detain you, or confiscate your camera. They might even arrest you for some catchall misdemeanor such as obstruction of justice or disorderly conduct. But you will not be charged for illegally recording police.

Twelve states—California, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, and Washington—require the consent of all parties for you to record a conversation.

However, all but 2 of these states—Massachusetts and Illinois—have an “expectation of privacy provision” to their all-party laws that courts have ruled does not apply to on-duty police (or anyone in public). In other words, it’s technically legal in those 48 states to openly record on-duty police.


State-by-state guide on the law concerning electronic recording (Reporters Committee For Freedom Of the Press)

More ACLU:
What to Do If You're Stopped by Police
What to Do If You Get Pulled Over by a Cop and You’re Legally Armed
The sad irony of Mr. Castile’s death is that, if asked how motorists should conduct themselves if they are legally armed when the police pull them over for a suspected traffic violation, my answer would be to do essentially what Mr. Castile reportedly did.

Jamil Smith: But we can’t ignore the fact that the two police killings that preceded it show how the very things that black Americans are taught will protect us — being armed and being respectful — can fail us. Last week showed us that our childhood training can’t save us.

Mic:
The New iPhone Might Shut Off Next Time You Try to Film the Police in Public

ACLU Apps to Record Police Conduct

...when you stop recording video on the Mobile Justice app, it immediately uploads a copy to the local ACLU chapter.

It can also send push notifications when people around you have begun recording, so you can be made aware of other people who are monitoring police.


More at Photography Is Not A Crime.
posted by triggerfinger (103 comments total) 120 users marked this as a favorite
 
WITNESS is an international organization that trains and supports people using video in their fight for human rights.
Check out their resources.
posted by adamvasco at 5:53 PM on July 13, 2016 [4 favorites]


That depends... are you white, or not?
posted by petrilli at 5:58 PM on July 13, 2016 [13 favorites]


The RCFP guide is a touch out of date. Glik v. Cunliffe, a First Circuit case, explicitly established the right of a person to film a cop in public in Massachusetts despite the wiretapping statute.
posted by praemunire at 6:06 PM on July 13, 2016 [13 favorites]


The New iPhone Might Shut Off Next Time You Try to Film the Police in Public

I need a Hot Take Hammer for tech sites every time they report on a patent filed. The patent doesn't mean they intend to make it. Patents are used strategically and defensively by tech companies. To make money and to be able to counter attack if bludgeoned or threatened with a patent suit.

If Apple made everything they patented, we'd have had MacBooks with multitouch surface software keyboards five years ago.
posted by middleclasstool at 6:13 PM on July 13, 2016 [18 favorites]


These lists, in the year 2016, strike me as a little overdramatic. The legal precedent is pretty clear at this point that citizens can film Police in a public place and vice versa. My agency has an explicit policy that citizens have a right to film us so long as they don't interfere, and this was a well understood fact by those of us working the street well before the policy was enacted. I'm sure there are still a few crusty old cops, probably in rural areas, that haven't got it figured out yet. But those of us that work in the cities are completely aware that pretty much everything we do is recorded from 38 different angles, now including the BWCs of the other Officers on scene.

The one thing I'd like to remind people of is that we frequently assist on medical calls. I've been filmed numerous times assisting Paramedics with getting (typically drunk) people into the ambulance. I've also been to a car vs. bicyclist hit and run that left the female bicyclist concussed and exposed. It was a few minutes before I believe Fire arrived with a blanket or tarp to cover her, and prior to that I had to talk to a guy and ask him to put away his cell phone. If he'd refused, I'd have done my best to block his view of the victim, but as he wasn't interfering with medical treatment I couldn't order him to stop recording. I also remind people from time to time that lots of people - including probably the person recording - have drunk too much sometimes, and they probably wouldn't want themselves uploaded to YouTube getting scraped off the pavement, half naked and covered in their own vomit. I really don't care how many times I'm uploaded to youtube carrying out my duties in uniform, but I would hope you'd have some respect for the privacy of other citizens experiencing a medical crisis.

Not a huge fan of "edit, don't manipulate." I don't see how editing is substantively different from manipulation. Especially with critical incidents, the full context is extremely important to the evaluation of any force used. Did the cops just immediately tackle someone or did they spend ten minutes talking with them first? Did they say "you are under arrest"? Did they try other uses of force lower on the continuum prior to the event filmed? These and others are all questions that frequently can't be answered by the video uploaded to the internet, because it either gets edited out or people didn't bring out their recording devices until after the fact. I realize you're not a professional filmmaker, but please make a good faith effort to capture context.

Finally, please remember that any given camera angle doesn't necessarily capture everything. I wish I could illustrate this with a recent anecdote, but trying to relate it in text with the necessary vagueness of an internet comment wasn't working. Suffice to say I have personally experienced real world examples where I thought the video showed an event clearly, but found out later that it hadn't captured important information.

Also remember that if Police come out of nowhere and surround a person for no reason you can see, there's probably a reason. A 911 call you didn't receive, information we've received over our radios, a suspect description or picture you don't have, etc. In a certain part of my precinct we have a network of security cameras and a very sharp Officer that monitors the live video from them. If that Officer calls out that he just witnessed an aggravated robbery or assault and one or more suspects are currently standing at a certain intersection a couple blocks away, or he sees a suspect from a shooting that just occurred (these are real world examples), you the well-meaning citizen on the street of course don't know that.

In conclusion: by all means film. We expect it. Just try to be conscious of the wider context.
posted by firebrick at 6:28 PM on July 13, 2016 [86 favorites]


A reasoned response and I have no doubt there are people who know what you know, and approach it as you do. And I also know that I have been approached by officers telling me I can't photograph or film at *all* on city streets, in major cities. I have no idea what would happen if I turned my camera on them.

Not to paint with too broad of a brush - I've also encountered a lot of the opposite. Once I was in New Orleans and I went past a police station and I saw a line of, presumably, police motor scooters. There was a big sign behind them that said NOPD and it just struck my funny bone. NOPD mopeds. It was late at night and I was skulking around their front parking lot kinda behind a short wall taking pictures. A NO cop came out, was like, uh, what are you doing? And I told him and showed him a few pictures. He shrugged and said "OK" and walked off.
posted by RustyBrooks at 6:32 PM on July 13, 2016 [11 favorites]


These lists, in the year 2016, strike me as a little overdramatic. The legal precedent is pretty clear at this point that citizens can film Police in a public place and vice versa. My agency has an explicit policy that citizens have a right to film us so long as they don't interfere, and this was a well understood fact by those of us working the street well before the policy was enacted. I'm sure there are still a few crusty old cops, probably in rural areas, that haven't got it figured out yet.
I mean... have you been following the news even at all?
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 6:44 PM on July 13, 2016 [88 favorites]


Yeah, this list is missing "don't be black".
posted by a strong female character at 6:48 PM on July 13, 2016 [22 favorites]


>These lists, in the year 2016, strike me as a little overdramatic. The legal precedent is pretty clear at this point

Do the lists of unarmed people who've been shot dead by the police in the year 2016 strike you as overdramatic? If they can shoot you and face no repercussions I'm pretty sure they can make you stop filming or do whatever else they want, legal precedents be damned.
posted by Sing Or Swim at 7:02 PM on July 13, 2016 [29 favorites]


Also remember that if Police come out of nowhere and surround a person for no reason you can see, there's probably a reason. A 911 call you didn't receive, information we've received over our radios, a suspect description or picture you don't have, etc.

... a suspicious skin color ...
posted by kafziel at 7:02 PM on July 13, 2016 [26 favorites]


These lists, in the year 2016, strike me as a little overdramatic. The legal precedent is pretty clear at this point that citizens can film Police in a public place and vice versa. My agency has an explicit policy that citizens have a right to film us so long as they don't interfere, and this was a well understood fact by those of us working the street well before the policy was enacted.

I think you could learn from following PINAC's news coverage. Seems like not a month goes by without another bogus arrest of someone filming.
posted by praemunire at 7:03 PM on July 13, 2016 [14 favorites]


"I mean... have you been following the news even at all?"

Yes. The news for the past several years has included numerous occasions where Police use of force has been filmed, sometimes resulting in protest and sometimes clearly showing the reason behind the force, other times resulting in the discipline, firing, or prosecution of Officers. The news has also reported on the national move towards Police use of BWCs. Not every agency has the money for them, but I would anticipate that over the next 10-20 years they'll become standard.

There have been very very few stories where Police have seriously attempted to stop citizen recording, and almost without exception those stories have ended in court judgments against the Police. We are at the point where precedent has pretty much zero ambiguity. There is no controversy. The public has the right to film Police activity in public spaces.

Again, I'm aware that not every cop has gotten the memo, but the already small number that hasn't goes down every day.

RustyBrooks - we recently (i.e.: immediately after Dallas) had an individual sit outside one of our precincts recording license plates of Officers as they left or arrived. Almost every cop is (or should be) conscious of surveillance around the station or being followed home, etc. Just to explain why they checked on what you were up to.
posted by firebrick at 7:03 PM on July 13, 2016 [5 favorites]


Yes. The news for the past several years has included numerous occasions where Police use of force has been filmed, sometimes resulting in protest and sometimes clearly showing the reason behind the force, other times resulting in the discipline, firing, or prosecution of Officers.

And the other 98%?
posted by kafziel at 7:05 PM on July 13, 2016 [16 favorites]


Oh I admit I was being suspicious as fuck. Absolutely he should have come over to see what I was doing. I'm just saying, his response was right on, he just wanted to see what was up. He did not see what was funny about it, but he gave zero shits once he saw that I was just goofing around.
posted by RustyBrooks at 7:06 PM on July 13, 2016


Not a huge fan of "edit, don't manipulate."

The On The Media podcast in the first link expands upon all of these rules and gives examples of what they're getting at. It's pretty good if anyone is interested in listening, and it's a special edition so only like 12 minutes long.

Also, I've been part of various photography groups for years and I still see stories in 2016 of people who do street photography getting harassed by the police all the time for taking photos in public. I've seen other photographers condemn street photography, so I don't think the knowledge of these laws is as widespread as it should be. This is well-trod territory for the ACLU, it's only really in recent years that the applicability of these laws to the public videotaping of police to hold them accountable has gained wider traction in the public consciousness.
posted by triggerfinger at 7:09 PM on July 13, 2016 [7 favorites]


I do street photography, which is why I get hassled by cops more than most people, probably. I am deeply conflicted about it. I have a strict set of internal personal rules that I use to try to keep from being an asshole, and usually I can convince myself it works. I am not always as true to it as I could be. And I miss a lot of great stuff because of it.

If they passed laws outlawing street photography tomorrow, I'd be sad, but it would be OK. I have accepted that my personal desires don't trump the will of the people.
posted by RustyBrooks at 7:13 PM on July 13, 2016 [5 favorites]


There have been very very few stories where Police have seriously attempted to stop citizen recording, and almost without exception those stories have ended in court judgments against the Police. We are at the point where precedent has pretty much zero ambiguity. There is no controversy. The public has the right to film Police activity in public spaces.

I'm sorry, but what you seem to be missing is the difference between legal precedent and actual enforcement.

Consider this: The whole reason why "know your rights" memos like this are necessary is because there is a gap between rights and and law enforcement.

That is: The reason why citizens are desperately preparing themselves with knowledge of their rights is because their rights are not being respected by the police.

Whether the rights exist in the court is one matter; whether it exists on the street is another one.
posted by suedehead at 7:15 PM on July 13, 2016 [56 favorites]


The legal precedent is pretty clear at this point that citizens can film Police in a public place and vice versa.

Tell that to all the cops that repeatedly confiscate or destroy phones without cause. For example, the cops who confiscated the phone of the convenience store owner who filmed the killing of Alton Sterling. Or the cops that confiscated the phone of the fiance of Philando Castile; they may have used to it delete the video she took from Facebook.

My agency has an explicit policy that citizens have a right to film us so long as they don't interfere, and this was a well understood fact by those of us working the street well before the policy was enacted. I'm sure there are still a few crusty old cops, probably in rural areas, that haven't got it figured out yet.

Your agency is not all police. Your profession has a problem and - by pretending that everything is hunky dory - you are part of it.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 7:18 PM on July 13, 2016 [93 favorites]


I think that most cops know enough not to say that they're arresting people for taking pictures. They claim to be arresting them for some other, fabricated reason. Public radio reporter Ryan Kailath wasn't arrested for taking video. He was arrested for obstructing a roadway, even though the video he took shows that he was never in the roadway and was trying to go in the opposite direction from the roadway when he was arrested.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 7:23 PM on July 13, 2016 [28 favorites]


These lists, in the year 2016, strike me as a little overdramatic.

These lists won't be overdramatic until police stop murdering the people they are sworn to protect and getting away with it. If I was a cop I would spend less time disputing the need for lists of citizens' rights and more time trying to pick the bad apples out of the bunch or explain to my fellow officers and the #alllivesmatter crowd why cops who murder should face the same justice the rest of us do.
posted by sallybrown at 7:25 PM on July 13, 2016 [53 favorites]


HTWRT: taking a recording device after the fact is substantially better supported by the courts, at least in the case of a serious crime, because then it contains evidence. My agency's policy supports it as well, so long as a supervisor is notified and it fits within a very narrow set of circumstances, basically serious felonies with serious injuries. Ideally you'll get control of the scene and just hold everything in stasis while an on-call investigator has time to actually write a warrant for it. All that said, there are stopgap measures such as using our own recording devices to record the footage off of the citizen's device. It's not perfect but it can be preferable to confiscating something.

Once an incident has been recorded, that recording is potentially very powerful evidence. So just like we may draft a warrant to collect documents or physical media from someone (or any other evidence), the investigators will want to see the video, if any exists and if it has unique evidentiary value. So the standard recording of a couple cops standing there watching the recorders while others handle the call/arrest/etc isn't something that has much value for investigators. A recording like the store owner's recording, which is of an Officer involved shooting from a unique angle in a situation where the Officers' BWCs fell off, is vitally important to the investigation. This is also true of video of crimes that don't involve Police at all.

I'd be getting pretty far into the legal weeds if I were to speculate on why a video may be removed from the internet. I mean I could imagine due process concerns, but the reality is that I'd be way outside of the boundaries of my knowledge of the law. I have zero internal knowledge of the Castille investigation.
posted by firebrick at 7:39 PM on July 13, 2016 [1 favorite]


> I'm aware that not every cop has gotten the memo, but the already small number that hasn't goes down every day.

And the more citizens that film even boring-ass routine traffic stops and assert their rights to do so, the more of that small number are exposed, providing an opportunity to shrink that number further.

While it's rarer to be arrested and prosecuted for recording these days, cops have plenty of tools to harass videographers and they aren't shy about using them:
• push back the crime scene tape for hundreds of feet
• warn you about loitering
• arrest for B.S., D.A. fails to charge. Hey, you're free! What's the big deal?
• ask for I.D. because you're "suspicious", handcuff & pat-down (all part of a Terry Stop, but supposed to be based on Reasonable Articulable Suspicion) and detain for excessive time (in the back of a squad car if it's a nice Texas summer day)
• just walk really close to you or stand in the way. Don't bump in to them! That's assault. Feel intimidated? Too bad, grow a pair! Hey, it's a public sidewalk, right? Cop has the same right to be there as videographer does.

California removed one of these intimidation tools (the catch-all "obstruction" charge) last year with the "Right to Record Act"

Citizen self-funded 1983 lawsuits rarely go anywhere even when the cops beat someone half to death thanks to qualified immunity. Police, 4th Amendment and QI blog

Two folks harassed for filming Sterling's murder: store owner, bystander.
posted by morganw at 7:47 PM on July 13, 2016 [28 favorites]


> bystander.
I got that wrong. Mr. DeLay posted the video. He "received the video from a girl who knew the young lady who shot the video"
posted by morganw at 7:54 PM on July 13, 2016 [1 favorite]


taking a recording device after the fact is substantially better supported by the courts, at least in the case of a serious crime, because then it contains evidence. My agency's policy supports it as well, so long as a supervisor is notified and it fits within a very narrow set of circumstances, basically serious felonies with serious injuries.

Well, a cop snatching a phone from the hands of the grieving woman whose boyfriend they just summarily and arbitrarily filled full of holes at a traffic stop doesn't sound anything like that process, does it.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 7:56 PM on July 13, 2016 [66 favorites]


cop snatching a phone from the hands of the grieving woman whose boyfriend they just summarily and arbitrarily filled full of holes at a traffic stop doesn't sound anything like that process, does it.

No worries, dude! They've got a policy!
posted by Greg Nog at 7:58 PM on July 13, 2016 [32 favorites]


A recording like the store owner's recording, which is of an Officer involved shooting from a unique angle in a situation where the Officers' BWCs fell off, is vitally important to the investigation.

'fell off'.

Yes. Of course. The cameras 'fell off'. Two body cameras, on two different officers, 'fell off'. At the same time. The exact time they were shooting a restrained man in the back.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 8:01 PM on July 13, 2016 [53 favorites]


So just like we may draft a warrant to collect documents or physical media from someone (or any other evidence), the investigators will want to see the video, if any exists and if it has unique evidentiary value.

You mean like the warrant that police absolutely and totally didn't bother getting before they seized the surveillance camera footage of the Alton Sterling killing (without the permission of the owner, natch)?
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 8:08 PM on July 13, 2016 [26 favorites]


Does anyone know why the ACLU apps are state by state, and why they don't cover every state?

Related: anyone know what you'd use in, say, New York
posted by schadenfrau at 8:17 PM on July 13, 2016


The legal precedent is pretty clear at this point that citizens can film Police in a public place and vice versa. My agency has an explicit policy that citizens have a right to film us so long as they don't interfere, and this was a well understood fact by those of us working the street well before the policy was enacted. I'm sure there are still a few crusty old cops, probably in rural areas, that haven't got it figured out yet. But those of us that work in the cities are completely aware that pretty much everything we do is recorded from 38 different angles, now including the BWCs of the other Officers on scene.

I'm surprised that despite several responses to this nobody else has stated the obvious: ignorance of the legality of citizens filming police isn't the problem. Citizens need to know their rights not to defend against cops who don't know the law, but rather to defend against cops that intentionally misrepresent the law to stop those citizens from doing something they don't like.

The cops involved in all these murders aren't committing the murders because nobody told them they couldn't kill black people on a whim. This isn't an "aw shucks, if only I had known" situation. We are talking about how to defend yourself against police who intentionally break the law and rely on your ignorance and fear to help them cover that up.
posted by IAmUnaware at 8:21 PM on July 13, 2016 [48 favorites]


(firebrick - I appreciate your calm and informed contributions to this discussion)
posted by yesster at 8:25 PM on July 13, 2016 [43 favorites]


HTWRT: taking a recording device after the fact is substantially better supported by the courts, at least in the case of a serious crime, because then it contains evidence. My agency's policy supports it as well, so long as a supervisor is notified and it fits within a very narrow set of circumstances, basically serious felonies with serious injuries. Ideally you'll get control of the scene and just hold everything in stasis while an on-call investigator has time to actually write a warrant for it. All that said, there are stopgap measures such as using our own recording devices to record the footage off of the citizen's device. It's not perfect but it can be preferable to confiscating something.

Once an incident has been recorded, that recording is potentially very powerful evidence. So just like we may draft a warrant to collect documents or physical media from someone (or any other evidence), the investigators will want to see the video, if any exists and if it has unique evidentiary value. So the standard recording of a couple cops standing there watching the recorders while others handle the call/arrest/etc isn't something that has much value for investigators. A recording like the store owner's recording, which is of an Officer involved shooting from a unique angle in a situation where the Officers' BWCs fell off, is vitally important to the investigation. This is also true of video of crimes that don't involve Police at all.


Wow, these certainly sound like reasonable circumstances to politely request a copy of the data. Absolutely not to steal the device/original data and certainly not delete what's on it.

So, how many of these cameras that are confiscated against the wishes of the non-party owner actually end up in court? How are the owners compensated for the appropriation of their private property by the state?
posted by kafziel at 8:33 PM on July 13, 2016 [16 favorites]


I really appreciate firebrick's desire to participate and the calm and measured tone, but I find the substance of the comments to be misleading and at times disquieting, as if firebrick is not intentionally ignoring or contradicting the state of reality, but somehow just cannot see it:
Also remember that if Police come out of nowhere and surround a person for no reason you can see, there's probably a reason.
It's like firebrick is from a different world than the one I live in, with different police behavior. I say this not to cast aspersions on firebrick's motives, but to highlight the huge divide between how the police see the state of things right now compared to how the people they police see them.
posted by sallybrown at 8:36 PM on July 13, 2016 [68 favorites]


Does anyone know why the ACLU apps are state by state, and why they don't cover every state?

I think it's to determine which state's ACLU the video should be forwarded to (because the laws will vary from state to state).
posted by triggerfinger at 8:52 PM on July 13, 2016 [2 favorites]


"Calm and informed contributions" as opposed to...

Look, firebrick is participating and not being a shithead. NO COOKIE. That's basic. That's the lowest bar.

Are people who are thanking firebrick also going to publicly state their appreciation for other mefites who are dropping links and polite questions and remarks about police policies? If not, why not?
posted by rtha at 9:02 PM on July 13, 2016 [50 favorites]


I mean I could imagine due process concerns

Are you under the impression that you, or your agency with its "policy," are charged with the authority to determine what is a due process violation and remedy it by force?
posted by praemunire at 9:10 PM on July 13, 2016 [4 favorites]


My agency has an explicit policy that citizens have a right to film us so long as they don't interfere, and this was a well understood fact by those of us working the street well before the policy was enacted. I'm sure there are still a few crusty old cops, probably in rural areas, that haven't got it figured out yet.

A few crusty cops in rural areas. Right. Just a reminder that many of us were streaming the Ferguson and other protests live from our computers. It's not subtle - over the years we've witnessed police in multiple parts of the country run dozens of intimidation tactics on protestors, constantly shouting "TURN YOUR CAMERAS OFF" and "YOU CAN'T BE FILMING THIS" and confiscating cameras and arresting peaceful press who were filming.

They very well know that filming is within your rights. They are simply intimidating, threatening, manipulating, and banking on your fear and ignorance of the law in the heat of the moment.

#notallcops are like this, but suggesting that this all comes down to a few backwater yokels not being trained properly strains all credibility.
posted by naju at 9:17 PM on July 13, 2016 [60 favorites]


I really do appreciate the questions and remarks about police policies. I'm all for the know-your-rights folks here.

And I do understand that the lived experience of actual real people as shared here doesn't line up with what firebrick has stated as far as "official policy."

Hell yes, there's a huge problem when (as stated by earlier commenters) the police confiscate cell phones and cameras, rather than copy the relevant files. There's a huge problem when police toe the line on allowing filming, while standing in the way or strong-arming.

I was thanking firebrick in the same kind of spirit that we appreciate the contributions of corb around here. It's difficult to swim against the tide around here, and I wanted to just throw out a thank you to someone who decided to do so.
posted by yesster at 9:20 PM on July 13, 2016 [23 favorites]


I didn't personally know what was legal to record of a police interaction, and I'm a well-educated white lady in a major urban area. Also, I've heard a (metro) cop tell someone recording an interaction to turn off their cameraphone within the past year.

So I guess, just, I'm glad I know now.
posted by samthemander at 9:22 PM on July 13, 2016 [4 favorites]


Just a reminder that many of us were streaming the Ferguson and other protests live from our computers. It's not subtle - over the years we've witnessed police in multiple parts of the country run dozens of intimidation tactics on protestors, constantly shouting "TURN YOUR CAMERAS OFF" and "YOU CAN'T BE FILMING THIS" and confiscating cameras and arresting peaceful press who were filming.

Hmmm - that reminds me of a couple of notable incidents re media and cameras from that Ferguson thread. Apart from, you know, the arbitrary tear-gassing and sound cannons.

Livestream guy (Argus Radio): "He [a cop] pointed his weapon at me, and this is a direct quote, and said 'get the fuck out of here or I will shoot you with this'".

Just watched a cop rip a Vice reporter's "PRESS" tag off and tell him it "doesn't mean shit".
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 9:44 PM on July 13, 2016 [20 favorites]


Filmers should do a little awareness-raising movement of sticking bright yellow tape on the four edges of their camera, reminiscent of the National Geographic rectangle, so that it becomes a meme and people ask/learn that this is about exercising civil right appropriately, etc. It would have a symbolic purpose for photographers, reminding others that if you threaten the camera holder, you're not just dealing with that one person, you're going against a collective of conscious citizens. A slogan might help too.
posted by polymodus at 10:01 PM on July 13, 2016 [6 favorites]


"Yes. Of course. The cameras 'fell off'. Two body cameras, on two different officers, 'fell off'. At the same time. The exact time they were shooting a restrained man in the back."

Ok, so I'm going to respond to this, but to be clear it's not because I believe HTWRT will give my response any credence whatsoever. My hope is that others reading the response however might.

My agency did a BWC pilot program with several experienced Officers on different shifts in different precincts testing out multiple kinds of BWC and mounts for them. Consensus is pretty good within the department that the best option was picked in terms of quality of the equipment, but that the mounts tested weren't very good. Our technology team worked with the manufacturer to develop custom mounts intended to give a good field of view, not negatively affect our safety, and stay attached pretty well.

Mine was knocked off in a fight within two hours of its issue. The following night, a fifty pound 12 year old knocked it off when I hugged him to keep him from fleeing his mom. And this wasn't even a 12 year old with even an ounce of aggression in him. I've had to hold my nephew in place at his age, and my nephew would be throwing elbows and trying to headbutt you. This little guy tried to run, couldn't, and then just cried. He still managed to knock it off.

I've had to have my uniform custom modified to securely hold my radio mic, which is a piece of equipment I depend upon to save my life. It can still get knocked loose, although the $30 I spent on the modification has helped a LOT. I can already tell I'm going to need to modify my uniform to hold the BWC mount on securely, but I'm not sure how yet. The modification for the mic was pretty much a cordura loop - nothing so simple will work for the BWC mount.

Even minor physical confrontations are pretty violent events, and it's common for a variety of uniform fragments to be scattered by any sincere altercation (see also hair extensions in the gutter, shirts/shoes/etc scattered around the sidewalk, etc). In the future, Police uniforms are going to have to incorporate permanently sewn on attachment points for BWCs, but there is no standard on those at all yet, and as a profession we're still trying to figure them out. There is no doubt whatsoever in my mind that those BWCs were knocked off in the fight. There is also no doubt in my mind that the Officers wish very much that their mounts had held. They still probably wouldn't have caught much, because BWC footage of a fight is almost universally a blurry mess in my experience. But at least they'd be partially defended from allegations they deliberately messed with the equipment.

"Wow, these certainly sound like reasonable circumstances to politely request a copy of the data. "

As we can see in this thread, a lot of people are completely uninterested in aiding any sort of Police investigation. Again, I would prefer a warrant, but the law does acknowledge that sometimes there's no time for one. This is some of the same reasoning behind, for example, the so-called hot pursuit exception to the 4th amendment prohibition against entering someone's home without a warrant or permission.

With regards specifically to Sterling, I have no knowledge whatsoever of the scene, the investigation, etc. I am no position to defend or condemn actions taken by Police on scene, and if I were in such a position, I would be violating the law if I commented on it in public. All I can say is what I said: there is more support in the law for after the fact seizure of evidence than there is for limiting recording. Any given seizure may or may not be legal.

I wish I could make an analogy to illustrate some of the circumstances in which warrantless seizure of evidence is appropriate, but I'm pretty confident that doing so would only result in objections to the analogies. And in any event, this is still a developing area in precedent, and I could easily imagine this being the sort of thing where warrants really end up being a requirement. Sort of like you don't need a warrant for a breath test for DWI, but you do need a warrant for a blood draw. I would anticipate that a case hinging on this particular issue is going to make its way to the SCOTUS in the next decade. I sure don't have a definitive answer.

"So, how many of these cameras that are confiscated against the wishes of the non-party owner actually end up in court? How are the owners compensated for the appropriation of their private property by the state?"

I have no idea. Answering the first question would require some pretty well funded research. The answer to the second will vary wildly from state to state and case to case.

"Are you under the impression that you, or your agency with its "policy," are charged with the authority to determine what is a due process violation and remedy it by force?"

The comment you quoted explicitly said that this question is well beyond my knowledge of the law. Why are scare quotes around the word policy? It's a document that explicitly governs my conduct. Violation of policy can and will revoke my indemnification by the city and expose me to discipline up to and including termination. The only things more important are the Constitution, Federal law, and State statute.
posted by firebrick at 10:02 PM on July 13, 2016 [6 favorites]


The quotes around "policy" are presumably a reference to the statements made by others regarding the problem not being that officers aren't aware of the rules but that officers simply ignore the rules when they find it convenient, c.f. constantly shouting at people that they can't film something or threatening them with arrest for doing so.
posted by Scattercat at 10:07 PM on July 13, 2016 [3 favorites]


I attempted to download ACLU's Mobile Justice app to my Android phone. Google Play redirected me to something called Wave of Action that claims ACLU involvement. And here's the list of permissions requested by the app, which of course I've not installed.

For what it's worth, I'm in Australia, so maybe the redirect has to do with the mentioned regional versions of the app, and ACLU being an American organisation. Still, why does this app need access to my contacts?


(self-link, hope it's within the rules)
posted by kandinski at 10:16 PM on July 13, 2016


Firebrick surely you can accept and recognise the innumerable instances of surveillance equipment that's in a position to record police malfeasance "failing" due to a vast panoply of reasons as more than coincidence?

Even accepting your excuse, does that not mean multiple police departments have the shittiest, most incompetent procurement policies and officers, or that equipment is in fact chosen because of its propensity to fail? I mean we get good video from freaking heliskiers and motocross riders posting 4k video that's crystal clear with audio, come on.

Either reason represents gross negligence and abandonment of responsibility.

Given that there have been multiple instances where cops have been caught tampering with surveillance, you cannot just say it's a few bad apples.

This is a cultural problem, and I'm sure you're a very nice person, but you gotta acknowledge reality, dude. Its uncomfortable realising you work with criminals, I know. I had a similar disquiet when I realised that, statistically, I definitely work with rapists and perpetrators of domestic violence,and i have no idea who. But my ignorance doesn't mean there's no problem.
posted by smoke at 10:45 PM on July 13, 2016 [29 favorites]


Ok, so I'm going to respond to this, but to be clear it's not because I believe HTWRT will give my response any credence whatsoever. My hope is that others reading the response however might.

I am perfectly willing to take your word that you and your agency are in fact the paragons of policing that you allege. But - and this is really my point - it's not about you.

Your blithe insistence that all cops are good upstanding people who would never set a foot wrong, despite the preponderance of evidence to the contrary, is what I find offensive.

Your experience and insights are valuable. But they are not universal across your profession. And the unwillingness of people like you to accept that and deal with it, is part of what prevents that from ever changing.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 11:16 PM on July 13, 2016 [46 favorites]


As we can see in this thread, a lot of people are completely uninterested in aiding any sort of Police investigation.

Really. I haven't seen anyone in this thread claim that they would refuse to corporate with a police request.

What we have been talking about here is where police forget about asking for cooperation, or procedure, and just do whatever they hell they want.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 11:25 PM on July 13, 2016 [23 favorites]


"Wow, these certainly sound like reasonable circumstances to politely request a copy of the data. "

As we can see in this thread, a lot of people are completely uninterested in aiding any sort of Police investigation. Again, I would prefer a warrant, but the law does acknowledge that sometimes there's no time for one. This is some of the same reasoning behind, for example, the so-called hot pursuit exception to the 4th amendment prohibition against entering someone's home without a warrant or permission.


This sounds an awful lot like saying you don't bother to ask because someone might say no. Do you believe that whether the person is interested in aiding your investigation should be a factor in whether you obtain the contents of their phone? Do you believe you're entitled to the contents of the phone regardless of anything else? Before you answer, understand that a lot of people here, myself included, already know full well what does and most importantly does not fall into the category of obstruction of justice.
posted by kafziel at 12:45 AM on July 14, 2016 [13 favorites]


It's also not just actual cops who try to get people to stop filming on the basis of imaginary authority. Just a few weeks ago a video from here in Seattle was circulating of transit security telling a woman she couldn't take pictures inside a light rail station, and then weakly walking it back when a third party corrected them.
posted by vibratory manner of working at 1:02 AM on July 14, 2016 [3 favorites]


smoke, this is why these kinds of conversations are pretty tough to make any headway with. I can talk with some authority about my agency and my experiences. That's it. There's a very limited degree to which I could speculate about particular incidents based on what information is public, but it would be frankly irresponsible to do so on a public forum speaking with the voice of authority. Neither I nor anyone else have any response to vague accusations of "innumerable" unspecified instances of Police conspiracy, nor is any such response possible.

"does that not mean multiple police departments have the shittiest, most incompetent procurement policies and officers, or that equipment is in fact chosen because of its propensity to fail? I mean we get good video from freaking heliskiers and motocross riders posting 4k video that's crystal clear with audio, come on."

No, it doesn't.

Brief googling turned up this motocross helmet. I hope it's clear why that's not a practical solution for Police.

Any helmet mount, in fact, is clearly incompatible with Police work. The glasses-type mounts are of course easy to knock off as well, in addition to being uncomfortable. Glasses also present a safety issue in most climates, because moving from heated/cooled environments to an outdoors that is the opposite causes them to fog up. Being unable to see right as you exit the squad on a traffic stop is not great.

The reality is that it's a hard problem to solve. The fact that it looks easy to you is because you haven't had to solve it. I stand by my earlier statement that it's going to require some sort of systematic change to how uniforms are constructed, but because it's a brand new technology with no standards, that's pretty tough. The cameras and mounts have to do as decent a job as possible of capturing the call. They have to attach to a cloth uniform without flopping around. We're already wearing about 30 pounds of gear, so they should be as light as possible, but also strong. On the other hand we don't want them to create a lever or weapon someone can use against us. Etc.

"Your blithe insistence that all cops are good upstanding people who would never set a foot wrong, despite the preponderance of evidence to the contrary, is what I find offensive."

You're criticizing me for focusing on my experience in literally the same comment you're criticizing me for defending everyone. It is absolutely true that I am only speaking about my experience, and to a lesser extent my agency. I am not insisting anything whatsoever about all Police. I support complete investigations of alleged misconduct, and if those investigations show such misconduct, I support discipline and prosecution where appropriate. I'm glad Holtzclaw went to prison, and consensus amongst my coworkers was unanimous on that front. I was glad when Slager got indicted - I'm not sure if his trial is complete yet, but if he hasn't yet, I think it's very likely that he'll be convicted.

But again, demands that I somehow satisfy nebulous claims of bad behavior are bordering on bad faith.

"Really. I haven't seen anyone in this thread claim that they would refuse to corporate with a police request."

Sorry, that was glib (although I have to confess I have a really hard time believing that you, for example, would voluntarily provide an unedited copy of video you had recorded to a Police investigator ). I'll rephrase. It is an absolute certainty that someone will say no. Given that's the case, we need to know what our next steps are when that occurs.

kafziel, I believe I was pretty clear in saying that I'm well outside the bounds of my knowledge with this scenario. The only thing I can say with confidence is that permission or a warrant are without a doubt the best solutions. Warrantless seizure of an uninvolved third party's recording device is a question that the courts are going to have to hash out. As far as I can tell, such a seizure has some support in law and precedent, as well as some factors against it. Reading about recent SCOTUS decisions regarding implied consent laws as they apply to warrants, breath tests, and blood draws might be helpful in thinking about some of the complexities. I really, really don't have the answer.
posted by firebrick at 1:13 AM on July 14, 2016 [16 favorites]


I pointedly observe, film, or photograph police interactions with members of my community, many ending in arrest, an average of once a week. I would say that, of the 50+ times I have recorded the police in the last year or so, I've been approached and questioned by the police about half of times about why I was watching or recording. I've been spoken to in a tone I find unacceptable (one I perceive as hostile or menacing) about half of those times (so, maybe a quarter of the time total). I have been yelled at or threatened at least 10 times by officers who apparently did not believe that I have the right to stare at them or to film them interacting with another person in a public place. I have always been candid about what I'm doing when asked directly: I tell them, I want to make sure that person you're interacting with is safe and okay, and so I am observing/filming your interaction with them. And the police don't seem to like that, and they often appear to be very upset when I explain to them what I'm doing and why.

I end up with a lot of police encounters because I've made a conscious choice to be a witness. I live in a major city and commute through a public transportation hub that is the closest station to several public schools that draw children from all over the city, as well as city residents from a variety of neighborhoods. Most of the encounters I choose to stop and watch involve children. I worry a lot about the welfare of kids in my community, and so I take notice of any time I see a child, especially a child of color, stopped by police. I see police interacting with people, sometimes in ways that worry me, especially when the people are children of color, about every other day.

I have a personal policy that if I'm not in any particular hurry to get someplace, I will always stop and observe even if nothing notable seems to be going on, and I will often record or take photographs if feasible. If I'm really concerned about what I see, especially if someone is in police custody or being arrested , I'll try to stop and observe even if I was in a hurry. If something seems to be happening, I try to get video if I can, but if I can't, I at least try to get still photographs that clearly capture the appearance of each involved police officer in hopes that they can be identified later. But mostly, I just hang out, and I stare pointedly, maybe snap some photos or a video, and I don't leave until the police leave. So I record the police a lot a lot.

Only twice have I felt physically unsafe, as though the officer was about to put his hands on me or try to steal my property or arrest me because he did not like being filmed. Neither officer put his hands on me, but each did make clear to me that he believed he would be justified in doing so if he felt like it. One accused me of being racist against him, and he told me that I was harassing him and that what I was doing was illegal. I am a middle-aged white lady, and I am often wearing a work ID (because I forget to take it off when I commute home) that makes clear that I am a lawyer a government agency related to the local court system. I think those factors afford me quite a bit of protection from police harassment or misconduct. But on at least 10 occasions I can specifically recall, police officers--sometimes more than one at a time --spoke to me or approached me in a manner that scared me or that seemed to me designed to try to intimidate me into moving along and ceasing my actions.

I also often approach people after a police interaction is over, especially if they're kids, to ask if they're okay or if they need help with something. (At least a half a dozen times, for example, the police encounter was a kid trying to tell the police that he's trying to get on the metro to go to school but his card doesn't have money on it, and the police refuse him entry, and so I give the kid $2 to get to school. I'm not trying to see a kid get arrested for fare evasion for trying to go to school. Once I helped a kid call his mom. Sometimes if someone is upset about the way they've been treated, I tell them how to file a citizen complaint of police misconduct at their local precinct. Happy to help if I can.) On two of those occasions, the officers who had just finished talking with the person and were walking away come back and reengage, trying to stop me from talking to the person they had just talked to after they were done. I wasn't interfering. I was literally asking little kids, are you okay and do you need help with anything? And the police came back up to me to try to prevent me from doing that, or at least to try to find out, in a manner I perceived as hostile rather than curious or helpful, why I was interacting with the person they had just talked to.

That's just my experience. I am unusually nosy. But I'm also very gentle and unobtrusive. I'm a lawyer, and I have no interest in getting arrested, and so I follow the law carefully and obey all orders from officers. I never get closer than 10-15 feet away, and I stay further back if asked to, and I never say anything to anyone unless an officer approaches me first, or until the police have finished their interaction with the person and have walked away. I'm not interfering. So why have I been threatened by police twice in the last year? Why have multiple officers made hostile or angry comments to me about what I'm doing? Why has did one officer threaten to try to jeopardize my employment when he noticed that I was still wearing my work badge? Unfortunately, I don't have those encounters on film; the ones I'm actively filming tend to be less hostile while they're on camera. But I am telling you that those things have happened to me, personally, in the last year. And they scared me.

My city, too, has a robust policy that police must respect an individual's right to film them in public so long as she is not interfering with their work and so long as she obeys lawful commands to avoid getting in the way. The directive is explicit that it's against the rules to require, ask, or even insinuate that a citizen should stop recording, as long as she's not interfering with police work. Our police chief announced it, to great fanfare at a press conference, a few years ago. And yet somehow, a large percentage of the time when I record, or even just pointedly watch the police, I end up in a conversation with police that leaves me feeling upset or unsettled or even threatened. I can only imagine how my experience might be different if I were not an average looking middle aged white lady wearing work clothes and a government ID.
posted by decathecting at 1:33 AM on July 14, 2016 [162 favorites]


firebrick, you should probably find out whether it's legal for you to take a random witness's cell phone or attempt to access its contents without consent or a warrant before you do so. Your department presumably has a lawyer. Ask that lawyer to provide you with the statute or case law that authorizes such seizures. Then you'll know whether what you and your fellow officers are doing is illegal before you do it.
posted by decathecting at 1:35 AM on July 14, 2016 [15 favorites]


Sorry, that was glib (although I have to confess I have a really hard time believing that you, for example, would voluntarily provide an unedited copy of video you had recorded to a Police investigator )

You know literally nothing about me.

As it happens, I'm a lawyer who has spent the majority of my career in the public sector. Including working with and for police agencies. Do you think everyone who objects to police overreach is some sort of anarchist?
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 1:59 AM on July 14, 2016 [53 favorites]


"Really. I haven't seen anyone in this thread claim that they would refuse to corporate with a police request."

Sorry, that was glib (although I have to confess I have a really hard time believing that you, for example, would voluntarily provide an unedited copy of video you had recorded to a Police investigator ).


There is a difference between voluntarily providing an investigator with unedited copy of a video, and having that video confiscated by the people that it may incriminate.

Like, for example, if I give someone a copy of my video, I still have a copy, and I can be sure that if the person I gave the video to tries to misrepresent or destroy it, I have the original to contradict them.
posted by misfish at 2:19 AM on July 14, 2016 [29 favorites]


I can talk with some authority about my agency and my experiences. That's it.

And I do appreciate the perspective, however you are offering up these specific instances in relation and in response to broader, endemic issues around police corruption and criminality, and also specific instances which you yourself acknowledge you have no especial insight into.

Whilst your perspective as a police officer is valuable, it is not more valuable than the perspective of the victims, who are unfortunately dead in many cases and have no voices. And, given the facts of gross, embedded, arrant corruption detailed in multiple precincts across the United States (eg Chicago, christ), it suggests to me that your station - where no one would ever or does ever act in an illegal, criminal way that victimises innocent people and everyone understands and is cool with being filmed (it sounds implausible when you type it out like that, doesn't it?) - is actually quite irrelevant to these other, bad stations.

It's great that you and your colleagues are okay with being filmed and don't abuse your power to stop it or commit criminal acts; would that every officer in the States had the same attitude. But they don't. Even if a lot do; an awful lot don't and this post is about them, and the culture that enables them. Your experience suggests a way forward - a more constructive approach for you may to be discuss why you think you and your station is different, and how those factors can be shared with other officers of the law and stations that are sadly lacking it.
posted by smoke at 3:09 AM on July 14, 2016 [15 favorites]


"I want to make sure that person you're interacting with is safe and okay, and so I am observing/filming your interaction with them. And the police don't seem to like that"

To be fair, I doubt you'd like it either. I don't like the fact that I have to try to divide my attention between this new person and whatever I'm doing. I don't like the assumption that I'm out there to hurt people (please save your response to this sentence, I'm aware). I don't try to stop it, but that doesn't mean I like it. I'm a lot more indifferent to it when something actually significant is occurring. But when, for example, a couple college students call 911 on someone passed out in the street and then breathlessly record me helping Paramedics load him into the rig, I have a hard time not rolling my eyes.

"firebrick, you should probably find out whether it's legal for you to take a random witness's cell phone or attempt to access its contents without consent or a warrant before you do so. Your department presumably has a lawyer. Ask that lawyer to provide you with the statute or case law that authorizes such seizures. Then you'll know whether what you and your fellow officers are doing is illegal before you do it."

We have a city attorney's office, yes. I said pretty early up there somewhere that my policy allows it for, but in very narrow circumstances, with regards to serious crimes or serious injury, with supervisor notification, and just as long as is necessary to get a warrant. If I suddenly find myself in a Vince Flynn* book and I reasonably believe I have to immediately take your phone and look at something on it or people will die, I'm allowed to do that (this will never happen). However, is there really a substantive difference between taking possession of someone's phone for 2 or 3 hours while you get a warrant signed and just taking it? No one knows, the courts haven't had a really compelling case to examine the issue.

In any event it's semi-moot, since everyone's got lock codes on their phones and we're not all the FBI with seven figures on hand to hire hackers to get into them, so seizing phones will largely be a waste of time anyway. Actual cameras are rare, although I did once run into a guy with a gopro rig hired to record a club.

"Do you think everyone who objects to police overreach is some sort of anarchist?"

No, but you seem convinced (for example) that the Officers in Baton Rouge faked their BWC mount failing in order to cover up a murder. Given that level of distrust, I have a hard time imagining why you would assist an investigator. At the end of the day my opinion of what you might do isn't super relevant, though. Some people will definitely, absolutely, 100% say no, even if you're not those people.

smoke, as I said, the law on recording Police is crystal clear at this point. Departments that don't get their shit together on this point and train their Officers accordingly are going to figure it out or have to figure out how to pay for the lawsuits. Why isn't everyone onboard immediately? Because we're a big country with a multitude of agencies. The majority of agencies are like 20 sworn or fewer I think. There's no centralized absolute authority, so change occurs extremely unevenly. Seriously, that's why.

Overall, this is a Mayor/Chief level issue. Those kinds of people have conferences and publications to share this kind of information.

*I do not like Vince Flynn, but this kind of improbable scenario is the sort of thing that shows up in his books.
posted by firebrick at 4:12 AM on July 14, 2016 [5 favorites]


In any event it's semi-moot, since everyone's got lock codes on their phones and we're not all the FBI with seven figures on hand to hire hackers to get into them, so seizing phones will largely be a waste of time anyway.

I don't know, it sounds like an excellent way to ensure incriminating footage of police malfeasance doesn't come to light. You don't need to access the footage to destroy it, just lose the phone, the same way that police cameras never seem to be recording when someone gets shot.
posted by Proofs and Refutations at 4:17 AM on July 14, 2016 [8 favorites]


Firebrick here's a great example from my native Australia that happened last year. Here's a great sound bite for you: 1 in every 40 officers serving in my state of NSW has committed an offence. There is a culture at play here.

Paying for the lawsuits, you say? Funny you should mention it.
posted by smoke at 4:27 AM on July 14, 2016 [4 favorites]


Smoke said, "Whilst your perspective as a police officer is valuable, it is not more valuable than the perspective of the victims..."

I don't get the sense firebrick has made such assertions. This impression seems to grow out of the context of his minority opinion and the overall tone of the other comments. (You said "whilst" ehehe)
posted by xtian at 4:38 AM on July 14, 2016 [3 favorites]


To be fair, I doubt you'd like it either

That's not actually fair. The difference between a private citizen being filmed at their place of work and a public servant being filmed in the streets is massive, and this ignores the rest of the post, which follows up the fact that the police didn't like it with descriptions of intimidation.

Obviously, you don't have to like it. But you do have to put up with it, for very good reasons.
posted by maxsparber at 4:43 AM on July 14, 2016 [21 favorites]


To be fair, I doubt you'd like it either
There are things about my job that I don't like. I assume that's true of most people who have jobs. But I don't get to harass, intimidate or hurt people who participate in the aspects of my job that I don't like. And I don't see why it's any different for police officers just because they have badges and guns.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 4:49 AM on July 14, 2016 [29 favorites]


firebrick, if you can figure out how to securely attach your gun to your person so it doesn't fall off in a physical altercation, you can do the same for the goddamned camera.

I also appreciate your perspective, but if you want to do something useful, go talk to your colleagues and make sure that they all get these memos.
posted by disconnect at 5:25 AM on July 14, 2016 [18 favorites]


I appreciate people appreciating firebrick's perspective, but polite denialism is still denialism.
posted by tobascodagama at 5:40 AM on July 14, 2016 [35 favorites]


I have a hard time not rolling my eyes.

And this is really what it all comes down to: citizens wish police would simply STOP rolling their eyes! A taxpayer-funded forced armed with murder weapons, the full support of the state, and myriad special laws to protect them that don't apply to other citizens... and we just WISH they would stop rolling their eyes! As Black Lives Matter has been saying time and again, we're SICK of police rolling their eyes at us! This is what it's all about: we just want to feel safe from the judgement of a guy rolling his eyes
posted by Greg Nog at 5:43 AM on July 14, 2016 [25 favorites]


decathecting's post above is a very good example of how those of us with privilege can use it for good. Because, as she acknowledges, despite the terrible treatment she's experienced, it's not even close to what a POC would experience given the same circumstances.

(thank you, decathecting, for doing what you do)
posted by triggerfinger at 5:48 AM on July 14, 2016 [17 favorites]


I read MeFi for the comments. Thanks firebrick for the perspective and the thoughtful tone of the responses.

Are people who are thanking firebrick also going to publicly state their appreciation for other mefites who are dropping links and polite questions and remarks about police policies? If not, why not?

Because they're not the recipients of misdirected anger from 90% of the other commenters.

polite denialism is still denialism.

Denying what, exactly? Is there a comment where anyone has denied the main OP that US citizens have the right to film on-duty police while they do their jobs? No.

Is someone denying the premise that cops should wear functioning cameras to provide evidence of police interactions? No.

It seems like some comments are trying to undo recent, graphic, horrible injustice by being dicks someone online who might be a cop. A lot of bad shit happened in a short amount of time in front of the world and everybody and we're wound up. It's very possible we all agree.
posted by petebest at 6:04 AM on July 14, 2016 [5 favorites]


I wouldn't like someone filming ne doing my job. But my job does not give me a gun and the right to end people's lives. If yours does then yes, you need to be under more scrutiny than me.
posted by emjaybee at 6:16 AM on July 14, 2016 [10 favorites]


Is there a comment where anyone has denied the main OP that US citizens have the right to film on-duty police while they do their jobs? No.
In his first comment, he said that "These lists, in the year 2016, strike me as a little overdramatic." And they don't strike me as overdramatic at all. For one thing, a lot of the substance is about how to film effectively. But also, I think it's incredibly naive to think that people don't need advice about their legal rights to film cops and about how to do that without getting in trouble. I don't see the slightest bit of evidence that police uniformly recognize the right of civilians to film them, whatever the law may say.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 6:17 AM on July 14, 2016 [16 favorites]


> To be fair, I doubt you'd like it either. I don't like the fact that I have to try to divide my attention between this new person and whatever I'm doing. I don't like the assumption that I'm out there to hurt people (please save your response to this sentence, I'm aware). I don't try to stop it, but that doesn't mean I like it. I'm a lot more indifferent to it when something actually significant is occurring. But when, for example, a couple college students call 911 on someone passed out in the street and then breathlessly record me helping Paramedics load him into the rig, I have a hard time not rolling my eyes.

Your non-response to the actual substance of decathecting's comment is pretty much why people who are frustrated with your comments are frustrated.
posted by rtha at 6:17 AM on July 14, 2016 [24 favorites]


We're already wearing about 30 pounds of gear,

Late to the party, but holy shit. 30 pounds of gear? THIS is the militarization of police that people are talking about. I can't even imagine how you get to 30 pounds of gear on an officer.

Sidearm, baton, flashlight, handcuffs, radio, maybe a few other light items I can't recall off the top of my head, all on your handy utility belt. That's got to be 10 pounds, max.

What's making up the rest of that weight? Are officers wearing body armor full time? And if they are, is there any surprise no one trusts them when they're walking around like they're looking for a fight?
posted by explosion at 6:31 AM on July 14, 2016 [9 favorites]


A recording like the store owner's recording, which is of an Officer involved shooting from a unique angle

the cops shot a restrained man in the back. why should the store owner hand over the only copy of a video immediately to those who did the shooting (or those covering up for those doing the shooting)? if they want a copy after i speak to a lawyer, by all means, but right after you murder someone in front of me? you demand the only copy? hell no.
posted by nadawi at 6:45 AM on July 14, 2016 [16 favorites]


firebrick, you seem to always have an explanation for why we should be giving the benefit of the doubt to police. But systemic problems and behaviors are not indicative of a group that deserves the benefit of the doubt.

Have you watched the video of Deray McKesson being arrested for "obstructing the roadway" in Baton Rouge, while he is three feet away from the white line he is accused of having crossed? Where he is "warned" while being tackled (not actually a warning, in other words), and told to "stop resisting" while he remains utterly passive in the hands of multiple police officers throwing him to the ground? His arrest records, now released, are full of multiple falsehoods. His property was taken and has now been "lost". When people at the protest asked for the name of their arresting officers, they were told the name was "Police Man". Multiple officers had removed their name badges entirely, and covered up their badge numbers. Multiple officers aimed rifles at the faces of protestors, with their fingers on the triggers. The police entered private residences to drag out people inside and arrest them for "obstructing a roadway". The police attacked the press and mocked them for trying to cover the protest.

When people called the jail in Baton Rouge, the people answering laughed and mocked them for their concern (another instance of the "eye rolling" Greg Nog mentions).

All of these interactions have been recorded and documented. And yet you seem to imply that these incidents are outliers-- despite the fact that the police obeying the law during the protests seemed to be the actual outliers. You imply that if we "really knew the whole story" we would understand why those officers acted the way they did. I cannot comprehend the existence of any story that would justify their unlawful behavior, and their repeated attempts to escape consequences for breaking the law.

Are you concerned at all by this behavior? Can you understand why people who see this behavior are unwilling to assume that the behavior that came before it (that led to the death of Alton Sterling) was not done with complete professionalism? The witness to Alton Sterling's death says his property was seized, and he was locked inside a police car for several hours. Can you understand why people are suspicious of a police force that treats witnesses in this way?

Even if you don't agree, can you understand?
posted by a fiendish thingy at 6:48 AM on July 14, 2016 [39 favorites]


I can talk with some authority about my agency and my experiences. That's it.

I wish you would hold the same constraints to your knowledge to statements such as:

I'm sure there are still a few crusty old cops, probably in rural areas, that haven't got it figured out yet. But those of us that work in the cities are completely aware that pretty much everything we do is recorded from 38 different angles, now including the BWCs of the other Officers on scene.

It seems to me that your knowledge expands to the entirety of law enforcement when it comes to defending law enforcement's practice - it is a few bad eggs, largely in backwoods areas. You know this to be true. Yet your knowledge constricts the second someone points to a/multiple specific examples of contradictions to those blanket, motherhouse statements - suddenly, you're not able to comment on the specifics of that action, or things like in Ferguson where they cops were literally shouting at the cameras that it was illegal to film the police.

I do not want to single you out in particular - this is frustrating because this is the entirety of engaging with law enforcement on systemic issues - everyone's a united, knowing front about all the good stuff cops do, and suddenly nobody knows nothing the second a cop does something bad. It's god damned tiring.
posted by scrittore at 6:48 AM on July 14, 2016 [43 favorites]


As much as I want firebrick and other cops to be part of this conversation, there are so few of them willing to say "Yes, far too many cops abuse their power and we need to do something about it." But they do, and we do need to do something about it, and how can productive conversation happen until many more officers admit this?

You can love being a cop for all the good things that you can do, and still abhor fellow cops who use their power to hurt. It's probably hard and it probably leads to a lot of angst and soul-searching but again; you have the power to kill people. It should feel like a burden, it should be hard, it should require a higher level of scrutiny and bigger penalties for failure.

But every time a cop gets into this conversation they seem to be saying that scrutiny isn't needed and failure, no matter how egregious, should never be punished because...well I'm never sure why. Because there is really no such thing as an unjustified action by a cop, seems to be the implication. But that's BS and cops should not be shocked that people don't buy it.
posted by emjaybee at 7:09 AM on July 14, 2016 [30 favorites]


this is frustrating because this is the entirety of engaging with law enforcement on systemic issues - everyone's a united, knowing front about all the good stuff cops do, and suddenly nobody knows nothing the second a cop does something bad. It's god damned tiring.


Quoted for TRUUUUUUTH.
posted by Dressed to Kill at 7:17 AM on July 14, 2016 [8 favorites]


In his first comment, he said that "These lists, in the year 2016, strike me as a little overdramatic."

That's not a denial. Right? Its a characterization, not "it doesn't exist". I may not agree on that characterization, but it probably shouldn't be read as "hooray for evil oppression" either.

suddenly nobody knows nothing the second a cop does something bad.

We all know something about the bad from last week. All the more reason for the important topic. *Which everyone agrees on.*

But every time a cop gets into this conversation they seem to be saying that scrutiny isn't needed and failure, no matter how egregious, should never be punished because. . .

Again, firebrick isn't saying that, or anything like that. Unless something like "body camera mounts aren't well designed" is some kind of meme I missed.
posted by petebest at 7:18 AM on July 14, 2016 [1 favorite]


We all know something about the bad from last week.

Indeed, and what firebrick knows, or heavily implies, is that what happened last week was not police murdering another black person, but the officers involved are having a hard time proving it because their body cameras popped off like the monocle from a started Victorian.
posted by gilrain at 7:22 AM on July 14, 2016 [13 favorites]


Reminder: You cannot be compelled to unlock your phone via a passcode/PIN/pattern/etc, but you can if you use a fingerprint unlock. Although even the latter requires a warrant. And with the caveat that this is still an evolving area of the law and subject to change; so far, that's based on two cases in Virginia and California which have not gone beyond the Circuit Courts.
The case highlights ... how the law treats something you know (a passcode) as being quite different than something you are (a biometric). Under the Constitution, criminal defendants have the right not to testify against themselves—and providing a passcode could be considered testimonial. However, being compelled to give up something physiological or biometric (such as blood, DNA sample, fingerprint or otherwise), is not.
It's a bit of a tossup because the fingerprint is probably better if you're just worried about someone stealing your phone and unlocking it because they were looking over your shoulder when you unlocked it before, but worse if you're concerned about privacy against government agencies.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 7:22 AM on July 14, 2016 [7 favorites]


I'd like to add a counterpoint to the argument that cameras just "fall off": I have a helmet cam on my motorbike, and it withstood a direct hit at 30 mph. The argument that cameras are impractical or unreliable is frankly bullshit.
posted by Acey at 7:44 AM on July 14, 2016 [6 favorites]


> It is absolutely true that I am only speaking about my experience, and to a lesser extent my agency. I am not insisting anything whatsoever about all Police.

And yet you say the only problem is "a few crusty old cops, probably in rural areas, that haven't got it figured out yet." That's bullshit, we all know it's bullshit, you know it's bullshit, but you say it anyway because of the circling-the-wagons instinct that's endemic to humanity. I'm not being hostile here; MeFites are the same way—see any MetaTalk thread responding to some mention of MeFi elsewhere that might be interpreted as a putdown. But if you're hoping to influence anyone here, you might want to change your approach.

I'll give you an analogy. I'm a copyeditor. Authors tend to have strongly negative feelings about copyeditors, because they all have stories about carefully crafted sentences that were wrecked by editors mindlessly following some rule in the Chicago Manual. Now, I'm not like that! And I know other editors who aren't! I could perfectly well do what you're doing and say "maybe there's a few crusty old editors, probably in rural areas, that haven't got it figured out yet." But I don't, because that's bullshit. I say "Look, I know there are too many editors like that, and it's a crying shame; all I can tell you is that I and editors I personally know respect the texts we edit and query authors about any change that we think might do harm to their intentions, and I try to encourage other editors to think that way and not stomp all over texts because of Rules."

If I were you, I'd say "I realize there are too many cops who yell at people behaving in ways they don't like and demand things they have no legal right to demand, like turning off cameras or turning them over. That's a shame; all I can tell you is that where I work, we try our best to avoid it." That would at least avoid the eye-rolling response, even if not everyone believed you. (I hope you are aware that there are good reasons a lot of people have a hard time believing what police say.)
posted by languagehat at 8:09 AM on July 14, 2016 [29 favorites]


re: 30lbs of gear - Police Or Army: Who Wore It Better?
posted by nadawi at 8:28 AM on July 14, 2016 [3 favorites]


This discussion is consistent with a long history of police refusing oversight, from fighting against citizen reviews boards, stalling their own IA departments, and creating the notorious blue wall of silence that discourages even good cops from addressing bad cops. Especially for people of color, the police essentially act as a militarized invading force, but one that is not beholden to international laws regarding the treatment of civilians, in part because civilians, especially civilians of color, are presumed to be enemy combatants, and there is nothing they can do to prove otherwise.

This is what the black community has been telling us, and, hey, surprise surprise, it is backed up by mountains of data. So when a representative of the police force comes here and says, no, we're trained, no, we respect civilians, it is denial. It's on par with climate deniers and anti-vaxxers coming in here, and I don't have to respect it, because it doesn't further the discussion but arbitrarily limits it around a convenient lie. We're not hearing an insider's view of policing here. We're seeing that blue wall being built, and we're told that we should just assume the wall is there for a good reason and should not question it.

Screw that. Especially now, right this moment. This is a bad god damn time to tell people they are wrong when it flies in the face of their lived experience, documented evidence, and mountains of statistical data.
posted by maxsparber at 8:32 AM on July 14, 2016 [33 favorites]


It used to be that if you were a defendant in a courtroom, and it was your word vs. a cop's word, you were assumed to be the liar.

That table should have been turned a long time ago.
posted by prepmonkey at 8:40 AM on July 14, 2016 [1 favorite]


You cannot be compelled to unlock your phone via a passcode/PIN/pattern/etc, but you can if you use a fingerprint unlock.

Good point. If you power off an iPhone (not just put it to sleep), it will require the passcode when you turn it back on and thereby be protected, no?
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 8:42 AM on July 14, 2016 [1 favorite]






It used to be that if you were a defendant in a courtroom, and it was your word vs. a cop's word, you were assumed to be the liar.

That table should have been turned a long time ago.


Yeah, I mean have seen three different occasions where officers straight up lied on the stand about interactions that I personally witnessed. On one of those occasions I was called to the stand to testify. Of course the three beers I had had earlier in the evening were cause to disregard my testimony completely because we all know the reality destroying effects of drinking three beers.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 9:32 AM on July 14, 2016 [3 favorites]


Speaking of places where people might want to be live streaming their interactions with both cops and counter protests, The WaPo has an article about the city prepping for disaster via the republican convention. The city is armed for bear, and some folks are itching for trouble to start.

As well, apparently the Feds are making a concerted effort to visit BLM leaders, and other protesters, to warn them away from attending, despite enshrined rights like Assembly and Free Speech. I'm not sure how that jibes with "enforcing" the law, so much as it seems to be "making up stuff and enforcing that instead". Years of reports seem to prove that some percentage of law enforcement believe themselves to either Be the law or above the law. And courts seem to always believe the word of law enforcement above the word of witnesses or victims. Video is the only current effective defense against an officer who believes that citizens have few rights worth upholding.
posted by SecretAgentSockpuppet at 9:54 AM on July 14, 2016 [3 favorites]


That's not a denial. Right? Its a characterization, not "it doesn't exist". I may not agree on that characterization, but it probably shouldn't be read as "hooray for evil oppression" either.

That's almost worse. If one acknowledges that some cops are spreading misinformation about video recordings, but can't see that it is a problem that needs to be addressed (especially in light of all the other problems these recordings bring to light), and if one perceives it as such a non-problem that those who are working to fix it in some small way should be dismissed as overdramatic, then how on earth will the problems ever be fixed?

People don't have to be evil oppressors in order to perpetuate a rotten system, they just have to have the right blinders on and dismiss anyone with clearer vision as overdramatic.
posted by ghost phoneme at 9:56 AM on July 14, 2016 [6 favorites]


The four factors that cause me to despair:

1. The law enforcement officers perpetrating these crimes, abusing their authority and rarely, if ever, facing any consequences. Still on the job, still getting their pension. Trying to stop them feels impossible.

2. The law enforcement officers not like this, and unable or unwilling to fathom a world that this is really happening. They can't or won't choose to see it. Every logical fallacy is employed, from minimizing to straw men arguments (it's a few rural cops, white people are killed too, well if black people just followed the rules this wouldn't be happening). While they aren't in positions of power to stop this at a policy level, but they can be a game changer if they're partnered with a cop who is like this. For us to succeed, they have to be part of the solution. Trying to convince them is exhausting.

3. The law enforcement officers who are not like this, and have the power to stop it, but have chosen not to. They read statistics like: "131 killed in prison since Sandra Bland" and it spurs them to….nothing. Black people keep 'mysteriously' dying in prison, at routine stops; in parks, in states where someone is carrying a weapon in an open carry state. Trying to wrap my head around this horrifies me about good men doing nothing.

4. The law enforcement officers who are not like this, in senior leadership or on the front lines, who are trying to stop it, and apparently, can't. Even with their collective efforts; here we are. Trying to understand how deep this toxicity must run that even with good people on the inside doing something have insufficient power to stop this, just brings me to my knees.

I'll be honest with you - when I talk to my friends, we're all on the same page: When I thought that police brutality might just mean that I, or even my mother or my brother could be shot, I could live with it. But now that we've got kids, the stakes have changed. What I am willing to do to increase the chances of my kid's safety scares even me.

Perhaps it's the limits of humans. The mind can only take in so much. No matter how many ways it's explained, those #alllivesmatter folks don't seem to be able to see what's happening to black people, because they won't or can't fathom living in a world where getting shot at a police stop in a high statistical probability for them. Conversely, I seem to be mentally incapable up to this point to process how how someone like MLK faced that injustice with patience and courage. Every time I try to kind that wellspring of hope in myself, my child's face flashes in front of me and I am brought down by blinding rage.

I don't know how this is going to all turn out.Those four factors are a lot to fight through every day and still have the energy to do anything else. I imagine we will either find a way to deal with it as a nation, or we won't and it ail be the thorn that brings down a superpower from the inside. And yet I suspect that 'we're all part of the solution' concept includes me as well. I truly don't know.
posted by anitanita at 10:14 AM on July 14, 2016 [28 favorites]


From languagehat's link:

What happened when you got to the police station? What were you charged with?

I was never told what I was charged with. [Kailath only learned about the charge Sunday morning when the local paper was delivered to his cellblock.] I was never told that I was under arrest. I was never read my rights.


Oh, there are probably circumstances behind this that would make this incident okay if only we knew about them! Or maybe Kailath was asleep or somehow not paying attention when he was formally placed under arrest, read his rights, and charged?

There is no possible justification for this. None.
posted by rtha at 11:01 AM on July 14, 2016 [17 favorites]


What anitanita said times a million.
posted by yoga at 11:40 AM on July 14, 2016 [2 favorites]


firebrick - thank you for your comments here, and your service.
posted by davidmsc at 12:42 PM on July 14, 2016 [1 favorite]


I'd like to add a counterpoint to the argument that cameras just "fall off": I have a helmet cam on my motorbike, and it withstood a direct hit at 30 mph.

I'm not a physicist, but I think you'll find a direct hit at 30mph is nothing compared to the power of a protective hug.
posted by nom de poop at 1:37 PM on July 14, 2016 [8 favorites]


I had (and still have) the same question about why the ACLU Mobile Justice apps need to be per-state. I get that laws vary by state (and I'm not willing to start anything about this federation right now), but needing a state-specific app to know which state-level ACLU affiliate needs to receive the video? These run on phones that know your location, so wouldn't they know where to send the video?

What happens if I'm travelling? What happens if I have multiple apps on my phone and I accidentally open the wrong one?

What do I do, given that I live in Massachusetts? I'm of a demographic that's less likely to get into a nasty situation by following these rules, but without an app, I'm supposed to do what? Use the built-in video recorder and find a place to upload the video before my phone is taken away?

†: Yes, okay. That can be turned off, or the information can be denied to the app.
posted by cardioid at 2:29 PM on July 14, 2016


Former King County Executive stopped 8 times by Seattle police — "not because I'm a bad driver"
posted by epersonae at 2:44 PM on July 14, 2016 [2 favorites]


And I too would like to know about options if the ACLU app isn't in your state. (Washington, FWIW.) I have Dropbox set to not upload photo/video if I'm not on wifi, because data, but I'd like to be able to say, yes please upload this now.
posted by epersonae at 2:45 PM on July 14, 2016


On the Senate floor, black GOP senator talks of disrespect from police:
South Carolina’s Tim Scott, the sole black Republican in the Senate, delivered a bristling and personal speech Wednesday in which he talked of being questioned by police simply because of his race.

“There’s a deep divide between the black community and law enforcement — a trust gap,” Scott said. “I do not know many African American men who do not have a very similar story to tell, no matter their profession, no matter their income, no matter their disposition in life.”
Mind you, Scott is a Republican, and:
As recently as last September, Scott defended the use of the term “All Lives Matter,” which the Black Lives Matter movement views as another way to diminish the threats that black people live with in America, telling CNN that “if that is somehow offensive to someone, that’s their issue, not mine.”
The whole story is worth reading, and anyone who's going to try to say cops are overwhelmingly not racist, that it's just a few bad (or rural) apples, has to explain why this guy is so pissed off.
posted by languagehat at 3:36 PM on July 14, 2016 [7 favorites]


To answer my own question about "what happens if I'm travelling?", the Mobile Justice CA FAQ says
Officially, Mobile Justice CA is intended for use by people in California. However, the app does work in other states and will send videos and reports to an ACLU of California office. If you do use Mobile Justice CA outside of California, we will forward your submissions to your local ACLU if there appears to be a civil rights issue.
posted by cardioid at 4:56 PM on July 14, 2016 [1 favorite]




(Related, not exactly the same thing. Great mega-post!)
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 4:59 PM on July 14, 2016


I had (and still have) the same question about why the ACLU Mobile Justice apps need to be per-state. I get that laws vary by state (and I'm not willing to start anything about this federation right now), but needing a state-specific app to know which state-level ACLU affiliate needs to receive the video? These run on phones that know your location†, so wouldn't they know where to send the video?

According to my state's app, the "broadcast your location" setting has to be selected and if it is, is only used to broadcast if someone else is filming near you. I know I basically never have my location enabled on my cellphone (unless I'm using google maps) because it eats up my battery like nothing else. I'm not sure if cellphone location info would be used to determine location in the absence of any other identifying info.

The ACLU California version's FAQ says the following:

Officially, Mobile Justice CA is intended for use by people in California. However, the app does work in other states and will send videos and reports to an ACLU of California office. If you do use Mobile Justice CA outside of California, we will forward your submissions to your local ACLU if there appears to be a civil rights issue.

It is important to note that the Know Your Rights materials in the app, including (and especially) those about interacting with and video recording police are tailored to California state law. Other states may have different state laws that affect your rights, including your right to film police. Do not rely on the Know Your Rights materials outside of California.


As soon as the app stops recording, it asks you to fill out an incident report. The video is sent either way to the ACLU office with which the app is associated but if no incident report is filled out, it is sent anonymously. The report is optional, but is helpful for them if they need further info. If you fill it out and you're in a different state, I'm guessing the incident report is where you could say that. It looks like there are also options for people to contact the ACLU after a video is submitted to discuss the incident (another way to clarify location if a user submits a video anonymously from another state for whatever reason).

Also, it's a little older (May 2015), but this Nation article provides a little more detail.

(on preview, I see cardioid found the info, but I'll post this anyway)
posted by triggerfinger at 5:08 PM on July 14, 2016 [1 favorite]


firebrick, you wrote, regarding me telling police that I'm watching or recording everyone because I'm concerned about whether people are okay, "To be fair, I doubt you'd like it either. I don't like the fact that I have to try to divide my attention between this new person and whatever I'm doing. I don't like the assumption that I'm out there to hurt people (please save your response to this sentence, I'm aware). I don't try to stop it, but that doesn't mean I like it. I'm a lot more indifferent to it when something actually significant is occurring. But when, for example, a couple college students call 911 on someone passed out in the street and then breathlessly record me helping Paramedics load him into the rig, I have a hard time not rolling my eyes."

I'm a lawyer. I work in a courtroom. Literally every word I say in court, all day long is recorded or transcribed. And my courtroom work, like the parts of your job that happen in public, can be observed by anyone who cares to take the time to watch, even if the reason they're there is to criticize what I'm doing (and that's not uncommon--people really do not like defense attorneys). But one of the purposes of the public record of court proceedings is to keep me and the others in that courtroom accountable and to make sure that people can check to make sure we're doing a good job, and can make things right for my clients if I screw up. I welcome that. Having those transcripts and records, and having them reviewed by others, both within my own agency and in the courts, helps make me better at my job. We lawyers read transcripts like athletes watch game tape, looking for places where we could do better the next time.

And even where my childish, egotistical, prideful side might be wounded by the insinuation that I'm anything less than amazing at all times, much less that I might have harmed someone through my actions, I try to tamp that down. The reasonable, caring, adult part of me that made me take this job in the first place is grateful for the accountability that records bring, because I work for vulnerable people, and when I screw up it hurts people, and I don't want to hurt people. I want to be the best I can be at what I do. And so when I find myself feeling irritated when I feel criticized by fellow attorneys, or by the press, or by observers, or by my clients and their families, or even by random gawkers who come in and watch court because they think it's entertaining, I try to swallow my pride and be humble about it and welcome those critiques. Because being good at my job and caring for other people is a responsibility I take seriously, and if someone else has an idea for how I can do it better, I want to hear that idea. So yeah, while my raw ego is sometimes wounded by criticisms, overall, I do like being recorded when I'm working, because it's another tool I can use to get better.

I can't help but notice that you had literally nothing to say about the rest of my post.
posted by decathecting at 11:56 AM on July 15, 2016 [31 favorites]


From : The New iPhone Might Shut Off Next Time You Try to Film the Police in Public

"Apple was granted a patent Tuesday for a new system that would allow people and institutions that are equipped with a certain infrared light emitter to shut down photo and video recording on nearby iPhones."

I look forward to police deploying this technology and believing that it is working while everyone just adds IR filters to their phone cases and keeps uploading damning examples of misconduct.

I also like the idea that this could be used as de facto evidence that the police are engaging in something that they want to keep hidden. Because if they aren't doing anything wrong, they shouldn't have anything to hide. Right?
posted by quin at 2:05 PM on July 15, 2016 [6 favorites]


« Older We can only go up from here   |   Bulldogs on skateboards Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments