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  • Should photography of police be illegal?

    http://usefularts.us/2010/02/22/bost...rrest-wiretap/

    This week the ACLU filed a lawsuit against the Boston Police Department for using “wiretapping” laws to prevent citizens from taking video footage of police arrests. Some would naively think such laws were passed to protect the people from the authorities, not vice versa. (details in Law.com)
    http://www.law.com/jsp/article.jsp?i...0&rss=newswire

    Massachusetts lawyer Simon Glik is suing three Boston police officers and the city in Boston federal court for arresting him after he used his cell phone to record an arrest.
    The lawsuit says Glik is suing the city for "failing to properly train Boston police officers that they cannot arrest people for openly making video or audio recordings of their conduct in public."

    The suit also claims the city "failed to supervise and discipline" Boston police officers to ensure that they made arrests that complied with the state's unlawful wiretap statute.
    The Massachusetts statute bars only secret audio recordings of police activity, not open audio recordings or any type of video recording, said Friedman, who specializes in civil rights and police misconduct claims.
    http://www.aclum.org/news/20100201.php

    During the incident, Glik stood about ten feet away from the officers while they were they were making the arrest. He did not interfere. Glik did not speak to the police officers nor did they speak to him until the suspect was in handcuffs. The police officers were identified later as John Cunniffe, Peter J. Savalis, and Hall-Brewster (first name unknown). They are defendants in the civil rights case along with the City of Boston, which the suit argues is responsible for not adequately training, supervising, and disciplining officers who arrest people under the wiretap statute for openly recording the police carrying out their duties in public.
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  • #2
    Re: Should photography of police be illegal?

    Only if it is actually preventing the police from doing the peoples work. I think (hope) that would be very difficult to impossible to prove.
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    • #3
      Re: Should photography of police be illegal?

      The police were just wrong for trying to use an obscure provision in the law to arrest this guy, the case against him was dropped, I'm assuming because it was pointless to begin with. I hope the ACLU -although I'm not a fan of some of their litigation- wins their case to force precedent regarding any futher arrests under this statute.
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      • #4
        Re: Should photography of police be illegal?

        Originally posted by El_Gringo_Grande View Post
        Only if it is actually preventing the police from doing the peoples work. I think (hope) that would be very difficult to impossible to prove.
        A third party simply recording a public servant doing public work in public cannot prevent anything. All it does is record the event.
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        • #5
          Re: Should photography of police be illegal?

          Originally posted by snooggums View Post
          A third party simply recording a public servant doing public work in public cannot prevent anything. All it does is record the event.
          Quite frequently it also results in said third party being arrested, and his recording confiscated. And sure, the charges will be dropped later -- but he's still been arrested and his recording is still gone.

          If I was being cynical I'd say the police do that intentionally to limit recordings, even though they know full well the extra arrests won't result in anything. If I was being less-cynical I'd also warn you that most of my information on that topic comes from people who complained about these arrests online, which may or may not be the most credible type of source. :)

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          • #6
            Re: Should photography of police be illegal?

            As long as there's no obstruction of justice going on along with the photography, then, no, it should not be illegal. I often see punk, knowitall, wanna-be-lawyer kids that don't realize that disturbing the peace while filming an arrest is a step over the line. Politely recording=fine. Provoking a crowd while recording=illegal. Uttering obscene insults while recording=illegal. Interfering with an arrest while recording=illegal.
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            • #7
              Re: Should photography of police be illegal?

              Police should get a better formation if they can't run their arrestation without being fear of doing mistake. If they're doing their job well, they have nothing to fear to be catch on camera or photography.

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              • #8
                Re: Should photography of police be illegal?

                Originally posted by CingularDuality View Post
                As long as there's no obstruction of justice going on along with the photography, then, no, it should not be illegal. I often see punk, knowitall, wanna-be-lawyer kids that don't realize that disturbing the peace while filming an arrest is a step over the line. Politely recording=fine. Provoking a crowd while recording=illegal. Uttering obscene insults while recording=illegal. Interfering with an arrest while recording=illegal.
                What makes the obscene insults illegal, and why should it be so? Would you assert that the insults should be illegal if a camera wasn't present? Interfering, yes, I don't think you'll see too much argument there.
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                • #9
                  Re: Should photography of police be illegal?

                  Originally posted by CingularDuality View Post
                  As long as there's no obstruction of justice going on along with the photography, then, no, it should not be illegal. I often see punk, knowitall, wanna-be-lawyer kids that don't realize that disturbing the peace while filming an arrest is a step over the line. Politely recording=fine. Provoking a crowd while recording=illegal. Uttering obscene insults while recording=illegal. Interfering with an arrest while recording=illegal.
                  If an act is illegal without a camera, the act is already illegal and having a camera while doing so should have no bearing.

                  Wearing a blue shirt while disturbing the peace has as much relevance as filming while disturbing the peace. Any logic that says the camera is part of the reason for disturbing the peace is irrelevant as there is almost always a reason for disturbing the peace and the only illegal portion is the disturbance itself.
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                  • #10
                    Re: Should photography of police be illegal?

                    Originally posted by snooggums View Post
                    If an act is illegal without a camera, the act is already illegal and having a camera while doing so should have no bearing.

                    Wearing a blue shirt while disturbing the peace has as much relevance as filming while disturbing the peace. Any logic that says the camera is part of the reason for disturbing the peace is irrelevant as there is almost always a reason for disturbing the peace and the only illegal portion is the disturbance itself.
                    Agreed. But, all too often, we see idiots that claim that they know their rights, and that their freedom of speech is effectively a "you can't arrest me" pass... It's not, and the police will arrest you for breaking the law, regardless of whether or not you're trying to exercise legitimate rights.
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                    • #11
                      Re: Should photography of police be illegal?

                      Originally posted by CingularDuality View Post
                      Agreed. But, all too often, we see idiots that claim that they know their rights, and that their freedom of speech is effectively a "you can't arrest me" pass... It's not, and the police will arrest you for breaking the law, regardless of whether or not you're trying to exercise legitimate rights.
                      Filming yourself breaking the law only gives the police more to work with, so I fully support antagonistic people who are actually breaking the law and filming themselves doing so. It also allows people who would normally be arrested for using their free speech without breaking a law to have evidence of the false arrest.
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                      • #12
                        Re: Should photography of police be illegal?

                        Originally posted by snooggums View Post
                        Filming yourself breaking the law only gives the police more to work with, so I fully support antagonistic people who are actually breaking the law and filming themselves doing so.
                        Unfortunately, it doesn't work that way. We see time and time again, that the court of public opinion/media opinion is more powerful than police administrations and district attorney's offices. You and I and the DA and the Chief of Police might all know that an arrest was legit, but if the media and the public are vocal about how unfair someone is being treated, the criminal is freed, and sometimes a cop's career is ended. For enforcing the laws that he swore to uphold. This happens nearly every single day somewhere in the United States. I see it multiple times a week here in Dallas. It's not always high profile, and it's usually for non-egregious crimes, but when our system caves in to this kind of pressure time after time, well, it can't be a good thing.

                        You know, we have threads in this forum all the time where people bash cops left and right, and it's pointed out that I, and a few others, always start out on the cop's side, always give the cop the benefit of the doubt, even when it initially looks like the cop might be wrong. Watch the news and read the paper. Somebody needs to be on the cops' side sometimes...
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                        • #13
                          Re: Should photography of police be illegal?

                          I agree with recording silently and unobtrusively as a check against police misconduct. Now if the person was inciting a riot against perceived or real police action, would it be legal to confiscate the film for use in his trial? I say let the jury decide from the evidence whether he is guilt or not (assuming he has a jury trial).
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                          • #14
                            Re: Should photography of police be illegal?

                            Originally posted by CingularDuality View Post
                            Unfortunately, it doesn't work that way. We see time and time again, that the court of public opinion/media opinion is more powerful than police administrations and district attorney's offices. You and I and the DA and the Chief of Police might all know that an arrest was legit, but if the media and the public are vocal about how unfair someone is being treated, the criminal is freed, and sometimes a cop's career is ended. For enforcing the laws that he swore to uphold. This happens nearly every single day somewhere in the United States. I see it multiple times a week here in Dallas. It's not always high profile, and it's usually for non-egregious crimes, but when our system caves in to this kind of pressure time after time, well, it can't be a good thing.
                            I don't believe that legit arrests caught on video cause cops to lose their jobs, every example I have seen where a cop got in trouble they violated some very serious laws and even cops then a lot of them get away with it (ie Rodney King incident). Any examples of legit arrests punishing the cop, since it happen every day? I'll even take old Sandbox threads.

                            You know, we have threads in this forum all the time where people bash cops left and right, and it's pointed out that I, and a few others, always start out on the cop's side, always give the cop the benefit of the doubt, even when it initially looks like the cop might be wrong. Watch the news and read the paper. Somebody needs to be on the cops' side sometimes...
                            It may not seem like it because I normally stand up for individual rights, but I side with the cops more often than not. I just don't assume their authority is a reason ti give them credit, I just assume joe public is even less upstanding than the average cop.
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                            • #15
                              Re: Should photography of police be illegal?

                              Even if in a public space there should be a (however small) right to privacy. If I'm walking down the street and someone take a picture or a video and I happen to be in frame that is one thing, but if someone decides to follow me with a camera, don't I have a right to tell them to stop? Yes I understand in this situation these are uniformed police, people who work in the community. When the uniform is on they are not individuals per-say, instead they are public officials who serve the community as a whole

                              Okay so what do I mean by all of this? Well I for one would not want to be filmed while being arrested, at least not by some would-be citizen journalist who just wants the video to throw it up on you-tube for everyone to see. I view actions like that no better than the paparazzi in Hollywood chasing down whoever the 'item-of-the-week' is. Think about it, how would you like it if someone followed you around all day with a camera 'just because?' Heck some people can't stand having others look over their shoulder, let alone a camera lens pointed at them. Now does this excuse the actions of the officers in this situation? No it doesn't, nor does it mean that the recording an arrest is right.

                              Should it be illegal to photograph an officer? No it shouldn’t. Under no circumstances should it be illegal to take a picture or video of a uniformed officer in public, while on duty in service to the community; however as with all things just because it is legal doesn’t mean its right, and there are instances where people really should just put the cameras away.

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