Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Cops, Cameras and Crime Scenes

Some cops just don't get it. "To serve and protect" does not include "...but we'll be a--holes while we do it." Chicago News Bench loves police officers, but like any group, that one has its bad apples too. The video below examines police reaction to video cameras. It was produced by The Cato Institute, a conservative think tank, and it gives their position on cameras and provides an advocacy for citizen journalists (yes, conservatives care about this stuff, too). With a hat tip to, we present the video here. One of the case studies in the video involves a motorcyclist named Brian Kelly, who was pulled over by a cop, gun drawn and not displaying his badge. Kelly had a helmet cam recording the incident, and later the authorities tried to charge him with violating an obsolete Pennsylvania wiretapping law - yes, wiretapping. (Read more about Brian Kelly's case here.) While not nearly as bad as in much of the world, the abuse of citizen journalists by public officials in the U.S. has gotten to a level that most Americans should find offensive and frightening. As a blogger in Chicago, I've had a number of run-ins with police officers over the recording of their actions. Cops are usually nonchalant about my camera, which I always have in plain view, but far too many get beligerent with me when they don't like being recorded. Cato has provided a good informational video for every citizen journalist. Watch this video, and then see one of my own below it. Below is one of my videos, made on June 28, 2008. On that day, I was with another Chicago blogger named Craig. We were videotaping the botched response to a "man down" (see story here) just outside of an alderman's office. The paramedics did not like us videotaping them, and you'll see one of them physically attacked Craig and try to forcefully take away his camera. The cops just watched that assault and attempted robbery in progress and made no effort to intervene. Then, one of the cops tried to grab my camera. Mayor Daley promised an investigation, but if that actually happened the results were not made public. In fact, it seems to have been covered up. RELATED: Videotaping Police Is Often Cause for Arrest ABC News Should Videotaping the Police Really Be a Crime? Time Chicago Cops, CTA Employee Don't Know CTA Photo Policy CNB Open Letter to CPD 23rd District Commander CNB Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) Blogger's Legal Guide by EFF United States Constitution, full text Chicago Cop Watch on Facebook