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"DC police chief announces shockingly reasonable cell camera policy"

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  • "DC police chief announces shockingly reasonable cell camera policy"

    http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2...camera-policy/

    DC police chief announces shockingly reasonable cell camera policy
    She bans DC cops from confiscating cell cameras or harrassing their owners.

    We've written a number of stories about police officers interfering with citizens who are trying to record the actions of police in public places. In some cases, cops have arrested citizens for making recordings in public. In others, they've seized cell phones and deleted the recordings.

    The courts and the Obama administration have both said that these activities violate the Constitution. And at least one police department has gotten the message loud and clear.

    In a new legal directive first noticed by DCist, Washington DC Police Chief Cathy Lanier explains the constitutional rights of DC citizens and gives her officers detailed instructions for respecting them. She addresses a number of scenarios that have led to controversy in recent years.

    Don't interfere with recordings

    "A bystander has the same right to take photographs or make recordings as a member of the media," Chief Lanier writes. The First Amendment protects the right to record the activities of police officers, not only in public places such as parks and sidewalks, but also in "an individual’s home or business, common areas of public and private facilities and buildings, and any other public or private facility at which the individual has a legal right to be present."

    Lanier says that if an officer sees an individual recording his or her actions, the officer may not use that as a basis to ask the citizen for ID, demand an explanation for the recording, deliberately obstruct the camera, or arrest the citizen. And she stresses that under no circumstances should the citizen be asked to stop recording.

    That applies even in cases where the citizen is recording "from a position that impedes or interferes with the safety of members or their ability to perform their duties." In that situation, she says, the officer may ask the person to move out of the way, but the officer "shall not order the person to stop photographing or recording."

    She also notes that "a person has the right to express criticism of the police activity being
    observed."

    No seizing cameras or deleting recordings

    Lanier's directive addresses another scenario that is becoming increasingly common: a civilian takes a photograph or recording that a police officer believes could constitute evidence of a crime. Under Lanier's directive, an individual cop cannot take a recording device away from a citizen without his or her consent. "Consent to take possession of a recording device or medium must be given voluntarily," she writes.

    In the event that the cop believes the recording is needed for evidence but its owner isn't willing to part with it, the officer is required to call his supervisor. The device or recording media can be seized only if the supervisor is present, only if "there is probable cause to believe that the property holds contraband or evidence of a crime," and only if "the exigencies of the circumstances demand it or some other recognized exception to the warrant requirement is present."

    In non-emergency situations, Lanier directs her subordinates to obtain a search warrant before accessing any information on a seized device. And, she writes, "photographs or recordings that have been seized as evidence and are not directly related to the exigent purpose shall not be reviewed" by the police.

    Finally, she emphasizes that police officers "shall not, under any circumstances, erase or delete, or instruct or require any other person to erase or delete, any recorded images or sounds from any camera or other recording device. [Officers] shall maintain cameras and other recording devices that are in Department custody so that they can be returned to the owner intact with all images or recordings undisturbed."

    If Chief Lanier's subordinates follow her instructions, it will not only help to avoid the expensive lawsuits that other cities have faced, it will also make for a more accountable police force. We hope that police chiefs around the country follow Chief Lanier's excellent example.

    Update: The order was part of a settlement with Jerome Vorus, who sued the city after he was told to stop taking pictures of a traffic stop in Georgetown two years ago. The lawsuit was filed with the help of the American Civil Liberties Union.

  • #2
    On today's addition of "can you spot the bias based misconception", we present:

    Originally posted by Carbonfiberfoot View Post
    And at least one police department has gotten the message loud and clear.
    1department, out of the 18,000+ in the United States. This is the "author's" attempt to convince the reader that the "problem" they have taken so much of their precious and irreplaceable time to highlight is somehow "common" and "widespread".

    Cop haters and others outside law enforcement routinely display perceptions that are out of context or just plain wrong. In this case, it's the "author" seeming inability to grasp to most American Law Enforcement agencies already have policies (formal or informal) regulating Officer's behavior regarding "public place recordings".

    But because (the vast majority of) cops don't make the news when they DON'T take cameras from people, the context-less/biased outside observer (seeing only the most egregious rights violations committed by a tiny segment of the law enforcement population) jumps to the standard conclusions: "Cops across the country routinely violate people's right to record things in public".

    The outsiders always want us to try to understand their point's of view, while simultaneously holding ours as irrelevant...
    ~Gun control has always been about punishing the people that didn't shoot anyone.

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by BigMyk View Post
      But because (the vast majority of) cops don't make the news when they DON'T take cameras from people, the context-less/biased outside observer (seeing only the most egregious rights violations committed by a tiny segment of the law enforcement population) jumps to the standard conclusions: "Cops across the country routinely violate people's right to record things in public".
      You're right and that fact is not irrelevant. The media reports negativity because "lawyer gets pulled over and puts cell phone away when asked" just doesn't quite make the headlines.

      However I don't see why that would make this new policy a bad idea. I'm confused if you are actually against the policy or just against Carbonfiberfoot.

      The policy sounds like a decent idea. It seems better for the department to have a unified stance, rather than each officer being left on their own to figure it out.

      I'm sure in some ways officers will feel handcuffed. For example, the restrictions on checking cell phone data without a warrant.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by Fëanor View Post
        You're right and that fact is not irrelevant. The media reports negativity because "lawyer gets pulled over and puts cell phone away when asked" just doesn't quite make the headlines.

        However I don't see why that would make this new policy a bad idea. I'm confused if you are actually against the policy or just against Carbonfiberfoot.
        What would make you think I'd be against a policy where a department is simply following the law/constitution?

        I'm simply pointing out the obvious bias of the "reporter" (and by extension the poster, who thinks it's a good idea to post on these forums such a biased article, simply CFF just doesn't "get" it), you notice there is no mention of the fact that MOST departments already have or follow such polices.

        The working of the article suggest that "law enforcement" is somehow just now doing this, because of Obama administration pressure of some type. It is materially false. My department has had such a policy since before I joined in 1998.

        The policy sounds like a decent idea. It seems better for the department to have a unified stance, rather than each officer being left on their own to figure it out.

        I'm sure in some ways officers will feel handcuffed. For example, the restrictions on checking cell phone data without a warrant.
        Yea, a "decent idea" that is not new. That is the point of my post.
        ~Gun control has always been about punishing the people that didn't shoot anyone.

        Comment


        • #5
          Most depts don't need this policy because Officers for the most part already know they can't go around taking cameras or stopping people from filming....are there Officers out there that will ignore it....more then likely but it's not some wide spread problem that every agency needs to address

          Comment


          • #6
            Well, here it is and right on schedule. Yet another thinly veiled example of fubar's anti-LE bias. No real news here, concerning either the poster or the topic. Fubar has been posting his crap for a considerable period of time. The issue he references has been discussed on these boards "ad infinatum", and is essentially a "non issue" Fubar simply saw another opportunity to do some cop-bashing. Things must be a little slow in the IT industry, as evidenced by fubar's apparently having so much time on his hands. Geez, it takes a lot of time to locate and post all the anti LE bulls....t that he does. But at the parties he no doubt attends where the odor of pot can be detected from blocks away, fubar can tell all his pot smoking cohorts how once again he told those cops off. All from the security and comfort of his keyboard.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by PhilipCal View Post
              Well, here it is and right on schedule. Yet another thinly veiled example of fubar's anti-LE bias. No real news here, concerning either the poster or the topic. Fubar has been posting his crap for a considerable period of time. The issue he references has been discussed on these boards "ad infinatum", and is essentially a "non issue" Fubar simply saw another opportunity to do some cop-bashing. Things must be a little slow in the IT industry, as evidenced by fubar's apparently having so much time on his hands. Geez, it takes a lot of time to locate and post all the anti LE bulls....t that he does. But at the parties he no doubt attends where the odor of pot can be detected from blocks away, fubar can tell all his pot smoking cohorts how once again he told those cops off. All from the security and comfort of his keyboard.
              Philip I was thinking the same thing.

              CFF doesn't seem to understand that continuing to post such stories isn't going to win him any points with you all (and perhaps even some of my fellow civilians for that matter).
              It is better to keep your mouth shut and appear stupid than to open it and remove all doubt.

              Comment


              • #8
                That "announcement" was really a no brainer and a waste of oxygen. A small % of officers out of the hundreds of thousands gets bent out of shape over being recorded and suddenly there needs to be decree issued? I could absolutely care less and if I end up on YouTube....Awesome!! if you're going to jail, you're going to jail and some loud mouth with a camera yelling to me that they are recording me is NOT going to stop a damn thing. Hell I'm already mic'd up and videoing myself some ****** bag with a camera phone means as much as the price of tea in china to me. This is a waste of "news space" I'd rather watch paint dry or Obama talk
                Last edited by creolecop; 07-26-2012, 12:26 AM.
                Ignored: Towncop, Pulicords, TacoMac, Ten08

                Comment


                • #9
                  CFF, when you're done playing with yourself after posting the story are you going to move to DC and starting a new career as a video documentary recording cops? It'll probably get boring watching them all day every day.

                  You know all that exciting footage on youtube? That's just someone in the right place at the right time. Take enough people everywhere and you get youtube. Who knows, you stand around the cops long enough recording on your phone maybe a gangbanger will jack your stuff. At least there'll be a cop nearby to report it quickly. If they'll talk to you. Best of luck to you.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    So in other words,do just what we've all been doing. Gotcha.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      And just one day after the DC chief announced the policy, the DC cops seized a guy's camera for recording them making an arrest.

                      http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2...s-still-taken/

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        It's morons like the above cop who took the camera device away that necessitates this policy. Hate to say it but swift disciplinary action is in order here. I was not there. But there is no reason to stop a citizen from filming. Some people did not get the memo.

                        It makes us all look bad. Can you say another lawsuit. I for one don't give a chit who films me. I am not winding up as a defendant in a civil suit.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I don't agree with calling a supervisor if the officer reasonably believes the recording device contains evidence of a crime. All you need is PC. If it turns out there's nothing on it then return it to the owner, but evidence is evidence. It's no different than arguing the exigency (Carroll) requirement involving evidence in a vehicle. There's a likelihood the clown is going to erase anything that is implicating him or his buddies in a criminal act on his little camera phone.
                          I'm 10-8 like a shark in a sea of crime..

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            This is just embarrassingly awful from a journalistic standpoint. Biased, poorly written, poorly sourced, more opinions than facts, etc. Then it tries unsuccessfully to explain its existence in the final four lines after rambling pointlessly for 500 or so words.

                            A middle schooler could have done a better job and not written it in present tense like a child's picture book.

                            Why would anyone use this empty shell as some sort of evidence of making their point when it has absolutely zero substance?




                            edited to add: Sorry, I should have clarified, I didn't particularly like the article.
                            Last edited by MargeGunderson; 07-27-2012, 04:50 AM.
                            "Snort-laughter is the best medicine"
                            ----- Mussel Bound


                            Don't forget to laugh today. The more implausible it seems, the more you need to.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by MargeGunderson View Post
                              This is just embarrassingly awful from a journalistic standpoint. Biased, poorly written, poorly sourced, more opinions than facts, etc. Then it tries unsuccessfully to explain its existence in the final four lines after rambling pointlessly for 500 or so words.

                              A middle schooler could have done a better job and not written it in present tense like a child's picture book.

                              Why would anyone use this empty shell as some sort of evidence of making their point when it has absolutely zero substance?




                              edited to add: Sorry, I should have clarified, I didn't particularly like the article.
                              Because CFF hates cops and derives some sort of perverse pleasure from coming here to antagonize us.

                              Comment

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