The police can film citizens using body worn cameras, and the audience can the film the police of mobile phone cameras. It is not always a social tradition, but the cell phone of the prevalence, the technology, the law and the support of the right to record police activity is a regular norm.
Today, a street cop is akin to being in every scene of a Hollywood movie hit, minus the mega-millions payout, and the box office royalties. In fact, many of the police activities filmed by the public dwarf a production Hollywood has to offer. Who can deny the spontaneity, the authenticity, the true grit? These attributes are all juicy snacks, and the theater is, where the police are present. And, just as the misplaced opportunities rolled out on film awards event, thorny and snarky political statements in abundance. Hey, welcome to the 21st century!
In the Frame
In August 2014, a New York City Police Department (NYPD) chief distributed an agency-wide memorandum entitled, “the Recording of the Police Action by the Public,” recalls her contingent of the police that citizens have the right to record the police in public, so that there is no one physically interfere with or obstruct law enforcement. It has become a part of doing police business, not only in the NYPD, but also among the 18,000-plus law enforcement agencies in the united states.
The NYPD memo concluded with “just a recording of an incident is not a malfunction” and referred to the rights granted by the First Amendment. Still problems haunt some cop shops. The NYPD has dealt with lawsuits (some still pending), which is the result of a number of police allegedly arresting citizens for recording police actions in public space.
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In May 2012, the Department of Justice (DoJ) disseminated “DoJ Guidance” to the members of the PD and the other law enforcement agencies to follow, summarily stating: “While the courts have only recently begun to refine the contours of the right to record police, the justification for this right is anchored in the longstanding First Amendment principles.”
Whether it be through the media crew or John Q. Citizen, American police are largely accustomed to just about anyone with a mobile phone and the regularity of the video-recording law-enforcement. The practices are threads in the American tapestry, in spite of any other instances.
In an interview conducted by Isidoro Rodriguez of The Crime Report, NYPD police Officer Daniel Bavuso described the era of the recording of police officers:
“I worked in Manhattan, and everywhere people are recording. Even if we were not to talk with someone, or making an arrest, even if we were just walking down the street, people would stop and take pictures and record us. Just walking in the street, not even in interaction with others. But, it is the NYPD. Sometimes they just like the department, sometimes, they are trying to get us to do something. It is not a big deal. That is your right, you record, you are allowed to stand and watch. Go for it.”
Although a police officer is the point of view of the others do not agree with that recorded by the citizens (as implied in the NYPD lawsuits cited above). Arizona State Senator John Kavanagh, a former new YORK cop who politics, introduced SB1054 (“with Regard to the Video Recording of Law Enforcement Activity”) in 2016, looking for a widening of the gap of the citizens recording police. Senator Kavanagh author of his bill to impose a minimum of 20 metres between that recording and the police in action, creating distance between all the elements. The ACLU does not care for Sen. Kavanagh’s bill.
Mike Borland, president of the National Press Photographers Association (NPPA), said: “It is mindboggling that there are still law enforcement officers in urban departments who do not know that they can be photographed doing their job in public.” The point of a case in Boston, Borland continues, “It’s downright crazy of the steps that will be taken in Boston as a result of this ignorance. This snowball of a public relations disaster would not happen if the officers were well trained and well disciplined when they break the rules.”
In August 2014, NPPA lawyer Mickey Osterreicher issued with the following statement: “There is no law anywhere in the United States of america prohibits people from recording the police on the street, in a park or other place where the public is generally allowed.”
The Cops’ Point of View
Understandable, not a law enforcer wants to be an object pointed at them. Unnecessarily, it requires an agent taking the time to decipher the object (mobile or not), and that requires the act of robbing the police officer of safety protocols, and derives from control of dangerous, violent.
Although it is perfectly legal, exciting, and acceptable in the minds of the citizens armed with mobile phones recording the police, the police are not stroking their ego when it appears that they harbour anxiety about such actions; they are involved in the disturbances caused by the activity. Although reprimanded by the ACLU, it is precisely this proposition which Senator Arizona Kavanagh based SB1054 law: unnecessary distraction for the police.
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